How to Grow Peppers from Seed to Harvest
You consider growing peppers on your balcony or in your garden? Good news!
It’s quite a lot of fun and also not difficult at all if you know what you are doing!
In this grower’s guide, I give you all the tips and instructions that are needed and show you how to grow your peppers step by step from seed to harvest!
Pepper Plant Profile
|Size (Height, Spread)||2 to 4 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide.|
|Climate||Peppers grow best in moderate climates with optimal temperatures between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.|
|Sun Exposure||Peppers grow best with a healthy mix of sun and shade.|
|Soil Requirements||Peppers prefer acidic to neutral soil with a pH of 6.3 – 7.|
|Country of Origin||Asia.|
|Perennial?||No, most pepper plants are grown as annuals.|
|When should you start to grow?||In spring between March and May, depending on your region and the pepper variety you want to grow.|
|Expected Yield & Harvest||2 to 4 pounds of peppers per plant.|
|Time from Seed to Harvest||65 to 100 days to grow peppers from seed to harvest.|
|Pests & Diseases||Mites, Aphids, Crickets, Pepper hornworm, Nematodes, Bacterial leaf spot, Mosaic virus, Blight, Powdery mildew.|
|Use||You can use peppers for salads, soups, fried vegetables and so on.|
What Varieties and Types of Peppers can you grow?
There are numerous different pepper species out there. The most popular for growing purposes are
- Bell pepper
- Tabasco pepper
- Poblano pepper
- Habanero pepper
- Thai Chili pepper
- Bhut Jolokia pepper
- Anaheim pepper
- Fresno pepper
- Jalapeno pepper
- Cayenne pepper
- Scotch Bonnet pepper
I personally like to grow bell peppers since you can use them for a huge variety of different dishes.
However, if you are not sure yet what variety you want to grow, I recommend you try many different ones. You can also go for a pepper seed mix so that you will have many different pepper plants.
When should you start to grow Peppers?
Depending on how big you want to grow your peppers, on the type of pepper and also on your climatic zone, you can start to grow your peppers anywhere between the beginning of March and the end of April.
However, keep in mind that the earlier you start to grow your peppers indoor, the bigger your plants tend to get and the higher your yields will generally be.
Thus, if you want to maximize your yields, I would suggest you start in March so that your peppers will have enough time to grow and to develop to a size that is suitable to provide you with a decent harvest.
How long does it take to grow Peppers from Seed to Harvest?
In order to give you a rough estimate, it can take from 65 to up to 100 days until your peppers will be ready to harvest. However, keep in mind that this also depends on various different factors.
For instance, if you want to grow your peppers in a climate zone that is optimal for peppers, you can expect that the time from seed to harvest will be quite short.
However, if you grow your peppers in a climatic zone that is not suitable for those plants, chances are that it can take much longer and that the yields will also be rather limited.
Moreover, the time from seed to harvest does not only depend on the climatic zone, it also depends on how much soil and fertilizer your plants will get and also on the lighting conditions.
Hence, there are many different factors that play a role in this regard and you have to figure out for yourself how long it will take for your individual circumstances.
However, the sooner you start, the more likely it will be that your pepper will get ripe in time.
What is the best Climate to grow Peppers?
While this also greatly varies across the different varieties of peppers, most peppers will grow best in moderate climatic zones with temperatures between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
For instance, if you live in the US or in Western Europe, you should be just fine and will be able to get decent yields from growing peppers if you follow the instructions in this article.
What do you need to grow Peppers?
Although growing peppers is not too difficult, you still need some equipment for it. This includes
- Pepper seeds (you can either extract your own seeds or buy them in a garden center or through my links on Amazon)
- Growing bed (to grow your seedlings)
- Big flower pots (the bigger, the better, since more soil implies more nutrients for your plants and therefore better growth; alternatively, you could also grow your peppers in your garden and don’t need a pot)
- Potting soil (you can either buy it or use compost from your garden)
- Sticks and cord (to stabilize and stake your peppers)
- Fertilizer (necessity depends on the potting soil and the soil structure in your garden)
- Garden shovel
- Watering cans
- Passion and patience for growing your own plants
What Yield can you expect when you grow Peppers?
While the average yield of your pepper plants will be around 4 pounds, this average number is just a rough indication of how other growers are doing.
In fact, how high your yields will really be greatly depends on your own effort and also how good you follow the instructions in this article.
Moreover, the more space you provide for your peppers, the more likely your pepper plants will be to provide you with higher yields.
What should you grow with Peppers?
If you want to learn what to grow with peppers, check out my article where I show you the best and worst pepper companion plants.
Why should you grow your own Peppers?
Growing your own peppers can have many important advantages.
In fact, when you grow your own peppers, you can not only learn a lot during the growing process, you can also grow really healthy organic food that is not contaminated with any chemical pesticides like the food that is often offered in conventional shops.
Moreover, apart from the positive health effects of growing your own peppers, it can also be quite a lot of fun to see your own peppers grow.
In fact, for me, I enjoy my food much more if I know I did everything by myself instead of just getting it from the local grocery store.
Seeing your own food grow has something quite peaceful about it and can also greatly reduce your overall stress level.
Thus, if you currently suffer from plenty of stress at work, chances are that you can reduce your stress by just planting and see your peppers grow.
In fact, it can be quite nice if you come back home from work and sit in the garden beside your plants.
If you want to learn even more reasons to grow peppers at home, you should also have a look at additional advantages and disadvantages of growing peppers.
Growing Peppers: Step-by-Step
1. Select a Site for your Pepper Plants
As we have seen before, growing your own peppers can be a quite nice experience.
In the following, I give you all the instructions that are necessary to grow your peppers in an optimal manner and I also show you some pitfalls so that you can avoid them.
Do Peppers like Sun?
Peppers generally like a sunny environment with a lot of light. In fact, many peppers like to have sun all day long in order to develop in the best possible manner.
However, this is only true for pepper plants which are already big enough to deal with the sunlight.
Smaller pepper plants may have serious trouble with too much sunlight and may even die off if those plants are exposed to too much sun.
Thus, if your pepper seedlings are still rather small, you may want to protect them from the sun to a certain extent so that they can adapt to outside conditions over time.
What are the Soil Requirements of Peppers?
Peppers are not too demanding regarding the soil. If you buy conventional potting soil, chances are that you are just fine.
If you want to grow your peppers in your garden, you may also want to mix your garden soil with soil from your garden store or through my links on Amazon so that you can ensure a good soil structure.
Hence, don’t be too worried about the soil requirements of peppers.
Chances are that you will be just fine if you buy a conventional potting soil from your local garden store. Sure, everything can be optimized.
Yet, in my opinion, other factors are far more important than changing minor things in the soil structure and you should therefore not focus too much on this topic.
What Temperatures do Peppers like?
Peppers like a sunny place in your garden or in a pot. They not only like the sun, they also like medium to hot climates. Thus, if you currently live in a region with a hot and rather dry climate, you will be just fine.
However, while hot and dry climatic zones may be the optimum for growing peppers, most pepper varieties will be quite tolerant towards other climatic zones as long as you don’t live in freezing cold or too tropical climatic conditions.
Consequently, if you live in our Western world or in other rather moderate climate zones, chances are that you will be just fine and ready to grow your own peppers.
How much Space do Peppers need?
The short answer is: The more the better. In fact, the more space you give a pepper plant, the more nutrients and the more sunlight it will get.
Since nutrients and sunlight will be crucial components when it comes to growing peppers in a successful manner, you should offer your pepper plant as much as possible of those components.
Thus, make sure that you give your pepper plants enough space to develop in a healthy manner. However, what does “enough” really mean?
To give you a rough estimate, you should make sure that your pepper plant had around 3 feet space in every direction in order to be able to grow in an optimal manner.
As I mentioned before, the more the better and in case you have a big garden and sufficient space, you may want to give your pepper plant even more space.
Should you plant Peppers in a Pot or in the Garden?
Whether you should grow your pepper plant in your garden or in a pot is an interesting question. Both options have pros and cons related to them.
While your plants will often have more space and more soil when you plant them directly in your garden, you will also not be flexible in case you want to move your pepper plant to a different location.
Moreover, many people also don’t have a big garden or no garden at all and don’t have sufficient space to grow their peppers straight in the garden soil.
Consequently, depending on your individual circumstances, you have to decide whether you want to grow your peppers in your garden or in a big pot.
2. Plant Pepper Seeds
After you learned what’s important to determine the optimal site for your pepper plants, it is now time to actually plant your pepper seeds.
Should you buy Pepper Seeds or Seedlings?
The first question you should ask yourself is whether you want to grow your pepper plant from seed to harvest or if you rather want to use seedlings that had already been grown by your local garden center.
While this depends on your individual taste and the level of work you want to put into your pepper growing project, in my opinion, it can be quite a lot of fun to see the whole picture and to grow your own seedlings instead of buying them from the store.
In fact, if you have never grown seedlings before, I definitely recommend that you do it now since you can learn quite a lot from it and can also use this knowledge for various other growing projects you might undertake in the future.
And trust me: Growing your own seedlings is not too challenging. In fact, if you follow the instructions I give you in this article, it will be quite easy for you to learn it and to apply this method to various other sorts of plants.
Should you buy Pepper Seeds or produce your own Seeds?
When you come to the conclusion that you want to try to grow your peppers from seed to harvest instead of buying seedlings from the store, you will now also have to decide whether you want to buy seeds from the store or if you even want to use your own seeds.
In fact, extracting your own pepper seeds is quite simple and you don’t need any knowledge for it.
You just have to get your favorite pepper from the store, cut in in half and you will see plenty of seeds inside the pepper.
You will just have to collect those seeds and you are ready to go. I know, many people claim that you have to dry your seeds before you can use them.
However, I used fresh seeds many times and honestly, I didn’t see any difference between fresh and dried seeds.
Hence, if you want to use your own pepper seeds, it is quite simple and only takes a few minutes until you are ready to go.
How to plant Pepper Seeds
Now that you either got your pepper seeds from your garden store or through my links on Amazon or extracted them by yourself as I mentioned before, it is time to think about how exactly to plant your pepper seeds.
In order to plant the seeds, you need to use a growing bed and fill it will soil. However, don’t fill it to the top, but rather leave an inch or two unfilled.
In the next step, you can place your seeds just on the top of the soil layer. Please make sure that you leave some space between your seeds so that your seedlings can grow in an optimal manner.
I would suggest that you leave a few inches between each seed so that your pepper seedlings can grow in an optimal way.
After you placed your seeds, just cover them with one layer of additional soil of around one inch in height so that your seeds are covered properly.
Finally, make sure to water them every day and that the soil never dries in order to assure that your seedlings can develop in an optimal manner.
How long does it take to see the first Pepper Seedlings?
It usually takes around one week until you will see the first results. However, this doesn’t mean that all seeds will have developed into seedlings at that time.
In fact, some seeds will be far faster than others and it can take several weeks until the last seedling will become visible.
Moreover, please also note that there will never be a 100% success rate.
In fact, if you plant 100 seeds, not all 100 seeds will turn into seedlings. Many of them will fail and you can be lucky if you get 30 healthy seedlings out of 100 seeds.
Consequently, if you want to get a certain number of seedlings, factor in that you plant around 4 times more seeds in order to be sure that you reach this number of seedlings.
How to protect your Pepper Seedlings
In the beginning, your pepper plants will be quite sensitive and will not be able to withstand any negative events.
This also implies that it will never be a good idea to plant your seedlings outside since they will be far too vulnerable against the cold.
Moreover, there are several other pests and plant diseases outdoors which could potentially hurt your pepper seedlings and those seedlings may even die off due to that.
Consequently, make sure that you keep your seedlings inside the first weeks until they get bigger and stronger. Only then will they be suitable for the outside environment.
When should you transplant your Pepper Seedlings?
There are many different opinions on when it is time to transplant your seedlings into bigger pots or in your garden.
In my opinion, it is a waste of time to transplant your pepper seedlings multiple times since it does not bring too much value to your plant anyway.
If you transplant your pepper seedlings multiple times, this only leads to unnecessary stress for your plants since they always have to adjust to new environments.
When should you transplant your Pepper Seedlings outdoor?
Instead, I recommend you only transplant them one time and the time for it is when it is warm enough outside that you can transplant your seedlings in a safe manner in your garden or also in a pot outside.
Warm enough means that the temperature should no longer fall below the freezing mark.
Even though bigger seedlings may survive a little bit of cold, they are still sensitive enough to die off if temperatures get too extreme.
Long story short: Transplant your seedlings one time into your garden or into a big pot when it is warm enough outside.
What kind of Protection do Pepper Seedlings need outdoor?
If you finally come to the conclusion that your pepper seedlings are strong enough and that also the weather is suitable to transplant them outside, you now have to think about additional protection.
In fact, while the indoor environment is a rather protected space, the outdoor environment is not at all.
Outdoors, there will be snails and other animals that may try to consume your pepper plants.
Moreover, there will also be additional pests around.
Consequently, for this harsher environment, you will also need additional protection for your seedlings.
While you could use chemical pesticides and other components that hold back snails and other pests, I would not recommend it since you can greatly harm our environment in the long run.
Instead, if recommend using slug fences which you can buy or even build by yourself. By using those natural measures, you can protect the soil and also the local wildlife around you.
3. The Pepper Growth Process
When your pepper seedlings reach a certain height, the hardest part lies behind you. Thus, if you made it to this point, congrats! 😉.
Now your seedlings will no longer be that vulnerable to outside conditions.
However, it is still necessary that you comply with the additional tips and information I share with you in the following in order to get the best possible outcome.
How fast do Peppers grow?
Especially if you are new to growing peppers, chances are that you will be rather impatient and that you want to see your peppers grow as fast as possible.
It is therefore logical that you also want to have an answer on the question of how fast your peppers will grow. However, the best answer I give you is: It depends 😉.
There are so many different factors involved in the pepper growing process and depending on how good you followed the instructions in this article, your pepper plants will grow faster or slower.
Hence, just make sure that you follow the tips and information in this article and you can be pretty sure that your peppers will get ripe in time.
Should you prune your Pepper Plants?
If you know how to grow tomatoes, you know that many people who grow tomatoes also prune and pinch out their plants on a regular basis.
While this can make sense for tomato plants under certain circumstances, it does not make much sense for pepper plants at all.
In fact, I would not recommend you to prune your pepper plants. Instead, let do nature its work and you will be surprised how good the results will be without any intervention on your side.
Do you have to pollinate your Pepper Plants by Hand?
No. You don’t. At least it does not make sense most of the time. The reason for this is that you will have many insects outdoors which will collect pollen and do the job for you.
In fact, bees and other insects will fly from one pepper flower to the other and will therefore pollinate your pepper plants in a fully natural manner without the need for any intervention on your side.
How to stake your Pepper Plants
In order to stabilize your pepper plants, it will also be necessary to use bamboo sticks or other sticks and put them deep into the ground right next to your pepper plant.
After that, you can tie your pepper plant with a cord to the stick and therefore stake it step by step.
In fact, you should make a new tie every few inches so that your pepper plant will be protected against heavy winds in the best possible manner.
4. The Pepper Harvest
You did all the work over the course of the year and now it is finally time to harvest the fruits of your labor.
In fact, while I really like seeing my plants grow, the harvest is one of my favorite parts of the whole growth process since you can actually see for what you worked the whole year.
When should you harvest your Peppers?
Then, when it is actually time to harvest your peppers? In most cases, the answer to this question is fairly simple. In fact, you will often see from the color of the pepper whether it is ripe or not.
Most peppers will turn red when they are finally ready to harvest. However, there are also some other pepper species with different colors.
Especially if you have peppers that stay green, you may have a rather hard time to figure out the optimal harvesting time.
In such a case, you should follow your intuition and harvest one fruit when you think it is ready.
If you are right, you can also harvest the rest. If you are wrong, you can wait a little bit longer.
By doing so, you will have the best chances to harvest as many ripe peppers as possible.
How to store your Peppers?
Peppers can be stored quite easily. In fact, there is no need to put your peppers in the fridge.
Instead, you should harvest them and eat them the next days since they will often taste the best and will also contain the highest amounts of nutrients right after the harvest.
If you don’t want to eat your peppers, many sorts are also excellent to dry.
In fact, especially hot peppers will not lose too much flavor if you dry them and you can store them for many years in a box and use them for cooking whenever you want.
What to do with your Peppers?
In fact, there are many different areas for which you can use your peppers.
While bell peppers are often used for salads or also for stews, other pepper species like habaneros are often used to make dishes spicy.
Thus, depending on the type of person you are, you can grow and use various different sorts of pepper species.
Pepper Plant Care Tips
While you already got almost all the information you need to successfully grow your peppers, I give you some additional helpful tips in the following to further optimize the growth behavior of your pepper plants as well as of your yield.
How often should you irrigate Peppers?
Peppers love water. In fact, if you grow a pepper plant in your garden, there it will be hard for you to irrigate your peppers too much.
In fact, especially on hot summer days, you should water your plants on a daily basis.
If you are not sure whether you should irrigate your pepper plants or not, you can dig a small hole with your finger in the soil.
If the soil sticks to your finger, the soil is still moisturized enough. However, if the soil doesn’t stick to your finger, it is time to water your plants.
You can also see it from the leaves of your pepper plants. If the leaves start to hang, chances are that it is time to provide your plants with additional water.
At what Time of the Day should you water your Pepper Plants?
The best time of the day to irrigate your plants is in the early morning. However, if you think that you have to water your plants multiple times a day due to extreme heat, just go for it!
Chances are that you will be better able to determine when it is time to water your plants in person.
How often should you fertilize your Peppers?
While fertilizing your pepper plants may increase your overall yields a little bit, I would not recommend that you use excessive amounts of fertilizer.
In fact, if you use too much fertilizer, chances are that you will burn the roots of your pepper plants, which can do much more harm than good.
Moreover, if you give your plants enough soil and space to develop in a healthy manner, chances are that you will not have to use too much fertilizer at all.
In fact, in my opinion, the quality of the soil is the most important part and if you get high-quality soil, you will often not have to use any fertilizer at all.
What kind of Fertilizer should you use for your Pepper Plants?
However, if you still come to the conclusion to use fertilizer for your pepper plants, at least make sure that you use natural fertilizer instead of chemical ones.
By using natural fertilizer, you will be able to protect our environment and also ensure better soil quality in the long run. One example of natural fertilizer is stinging nettle liquid.
In order to produce this fertilizer, you just collect stinging nettles and put them in a bucket full of water.
After a few days, you remove the stinging nettles and have a nice natural fertilizer which can be quite beneficial for the overall plant growth of your peppers.
Should you use Pesticides or Herbicides for Growing Peppers?
Similar to the use of chemical fertilizers, I highly recommend you not to use any chemical herbicides or pesticides. Instead, try to destroy weeds by hand.
Moreover, if you choose the right spot for your peppers, chances are that they will also become quite resistant to pests and no further actions may be required from your side.
If you urgently want to use pesticides, you can get them from your local garden center.
You should also check out my article on how to get rid of pepper pests and diseases.
What’s left to say?
If you made it up to this point, I am really proud of you! 😉 Honestly, I am honored that you read my articles and that you consume my content.
If you liked this article, chances are that you will also love my other growing guides.
Hence, also make sure to check them out when you are ready for additional growing action! 😉
You want to get more specific information about bell peppers? Make sure that you also check out my
Grower’s guide how to grow bell peppers
Grower’s guide how to grow chili peppers
About the author
My name is Andreas and I’m really passionate about our environment and also about growing plants. In fact, I have grown several different plants over many years. I love to see my own plants grow and always try new things.
In my blog posts, I want to share my experiences with you so that you can become successful in growing various different plants, even if you are still a beginner right now.