Grow Guide Conditions:
Peppers are a warm season crop and grow best with warm nights, which increase flower and fruit set. Fruit set in many sweet peppers can be low at temperatures over 90°F, but most chile peppers are more heat tolerant. Production is best in fertile, well drained soils with a pH of 6–6.8. Ensure adequate calcium availability and avoid wide fluctuations in moisture to prevent blossom end rot. In cooler climates, cover seedlings with floating row cover for extra warmth, but remove prior to flowering. Isolate hot and sweet peppers to prevent cross-pollination, which can result in heat in sweet varieties. Hotter growing conditions increase heat in chile peppers. Plants may need to be trellised or supported in favorable warm climates.
Grow Guide Seed:
Peppers are most often started indoors and transplanted due to the relative difficulty of starting them successfully. Peppers are highly susceptible to fungal diseases that can be in the soil, so be sure to use a sterile, peat moss based seed starting mix. Optimum germination occurs at 75–85°F soil temperature, which can be provided by our seedling heat mat. Plant seeds in starter trays 1/4 inch deep and keep the soil evenly moist without waterlogging. Peppers typically take 10-14 days to germinate. Transfer into 2-4 inch pots if necessary. Harden off seedlings for 7-10 days before transplanting, but do not expose them to temperatures below 55°F. Transplant 8-12 week old seedlings outside, 4 weeks after the last spring frost, when daytime temperatures reach 70°F and nighttime temperatures are above 55°F. Space plants 12-18 inches apart, allowing 24-36 inches between rows.
Grow Guide Pests:
Use disease resistant varieties or Serenade, an OMRI-approved resistance-stimulator, to control Bacterial Leaf Spot (BLS) in humid climates. Incidence of this and other diseases can be reduced by using drip irrigation and mulches, ensuring adequate air flow through increased plant spacing, and staking or supporting plants, if necessary. Practice 3-4 year crop rotations with all Solanaceae species (tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, potatoes) to manage soil borne pathogens such as Fusarium and Verticillium Wilts. Use floating row covers to prevent insect damage, but remove prior to flowering or in hot weather. Plant peppers in double rows and/or next to a taller crop that shades them in the afternoon to reduce sunburn on fruits.
Grow Guide Harvest:
Harvest when fruits are full grown, firm and crisp. They can be consumed when green or fully ripened to their final color. Snap fruits off by hand, being careful not to break branches or damage plants. Harvest frequently to encourage additional fruit set. Store in the refrigerator.