A Guide to Growing Pepper Plants

Un guide pour cultiver des plants de poivrons

In most American vegetable gardens, peppers are second only to tomatoes in popularity, and it's easy to see why.
Few vegetables offer as much variety in terms of size, shape, color and flavor.
Beyond the familiar pepper, you'll find a huge selection of cultivars – some sweet, some spicy, and a few a little of both.

If you don't like the taste of peppers, you can always grow them for their ornamental attributes.
With their white flowers, colorful fruits and upright habit, pepper plants are just as popular in flower beds and borders as in the vegetable garden.
In fact, many new cultivars have been developed specifically for their decorative appearance.


  • Botanical names:
    Capsicum annuum (the largest variety of plants)
    Capsicum chinense (the hottest peppers, including habañeros and ghost peppers)
    Capsicum frutescens (better known for Tabasco pepper)
  • Zones :
    Perennial in zones 9-11, grown as an annual elsewhere.
  • Height :
    Typically 45 to 90 cm, except for dwarf varieties, which measure 15 to 30 cm in height.
  • Exposition :
    Full sun (6 to 8 hours per day)
  • Days to maturity:
    Most sweet peppers mature 60 to 90 days after transplanting to the garden. Hot peppers can take up to 150 days to ripen.
  • How intense are they?
    The heat value is often expressed in Scoville Heat Units (SHU), ranging from mild (0 to 700) to volcanic (above 800,000!). Most peppers fall in the moderate to hot range.
    Ratings may fluctuate depending on climate and growing conditions. They can even vary on the same plant, with one pepper having an extremely strong flavor and another mild.

    Planting pepper plants

    • When to plant:

    Transplant peppers after all danger of frost has passed, the weather is consistently warm, and the soil has reached a temperature of at least 65°F. Before transplanting, acclimate your pepper plants outdoors at increasing time intervals.

    • Cold climate planting tip:

    Speed ​​up soil warming by covering it with black plastic for at least a week before planting.

    • Where to plant:

    In full sun (at least 8 hours per day), in nutrient-rich, well-drained soil containing plenty of organic matter.

    • How to plant:

    Before planting, incorporate organic matter into the soil. Dig holes deep enough to plant your plants at the same level as they were in their pots. Immediately after transplanting, water thoroughly. To help retain moisture and control weeds, cover the soil around your plants with a layer of finely ground organic mulch.

    • Pepper plant spacing:

    Space the plants 45 to 60 cm apart, depending on their size at maturity.

    • Planting pepper seeds:

    Start pepper seeds indoors 8 to 12 weeks before transplanting. Pepper seedlings need warm soil temperatures (around 27°C) for germination, daytime temperatures averaging 21 to 27°C, and nighttime temperatures not lower than 15°C. Keeping the soil evenly moist and providing adequate light exposure (see: Starting Seeds Under Fluorescent Lights) is also essential to getting your seedlings off to a good start.

    • Growing peppers in pots:

    Due to their upright, bushy growth habit, pepper plants are well suited to growing in containers – a great option if you have limited garden space. Choose a container that allows adequate space for root development and has holes for good drainage. Most plants, except dwarf varieties, will need a pot of at least 19 liters. In general, the larger the fruit, the larger the pot required.

    • Companion of peppers:

    Some mutually beneficial plants are: carrots, basil, parsley, tomatoes, onions, eggplant, beets, and Swiss chard. Keep your kohlrabi and fennel plants away, traditional enemies of peppers due to the pests they attract. Peppers, tomatoes and eggplants are all members of the nightshade family (Solanaceae) and should not be planted together in the same bed every year. This could encourage the spread of soil diseases and deplete the soil of important nutrients. Rotate these crops into another bed the following season.

    Caring for and harvesting pepper plants

    • Size of pepper plants:

    Generally, pruning pepper plants is not necessary. Peppers can be susceptible to sunburn, so removing foliage can expose them to too much sun.

    • Watering:

    The key to watering peppers is moderation. Too little water will cause leaves to wilt and flowers to drop; too much water will result in waterlogged roots. Keep your plants evenly moist by giving them the equivalent of an inch of water per week. They may need more water when the weather is hot and sunny.

    • Fertilizer for pepper plants:

    Fertilize your peppers with a well-balanced plant food when you plant them and again later in the summer when the first flowers appear. Avoid fertilizers high in nitrogen, which will stimulate foliage growth but result in less fruit production.
    If you notice that your plants are producing lots of flowers but few fruits, this is often caused by a lack of magnesium. To give your plants a boost, spray the leaves with a solution of Epsom salts (using about 2 teaspoons per gallon of warm water) or add 1 tablespoon of Epsom salts per plant. plant height.

    • Staking pepper plants:

    Most pepper plants, except dwarf types, must be staked or caged to support them and prevent their fragile branches from breaking and to prevent the plants from falling under the weight of the fruit as they grow. they mature. When tying plants to stakes, use a stretchy material, such as strips of nylon stockings, that can expand as the stems grow larger. Do not use wire or twine, which can strangle the plant as it grows.

    • Harvesting peppers:

    Peppers can be harvested at any time, but they will not reach their full color or flavor until they are fully ripe. Picking some of your peppers early, while they are still green, will encourage the plant to develop more fruit. Strive for a balance by leaving a few peppers on each plant to fully ripen and harvesting more as soon as they reach the desired size. Cut your peppers cleanly with garden pruning shears, rather than pulling them up, to avoid breaking fragile branches.

    • Harvesting advice:

    When harvesting and preparing super-spicy peppers such as habañeros and ghost peppers, always protect your skin by wearing gloves.

    Diseases and pests

    The same pests and diseases that attack other members of the nightshade family sometimes attack peppers. Common diseases include bacterial leaf spot, blossom-end rot, tobacco mosaic virus, and anthracnose.
    Pests to watch out for include cutworms, tomato caterpillars, aphids, mites and thrips. You can avoid many of these problems by planting disease-resistant pepper varieties and practicing crop rotation.

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