Growing hot peppers in containers is so easy and productive. Here’s everything you need to know!
Actually a short living perennial in tropical and subtropical areas (USDA Zones 9-11), this productive vegetable can live for a couple of years. Also, with care in winters and by keeping them indoors, some varieties can be grown as perennials in Zones 7 and 8.
Due to the compact growing habit, pepper plant grows successfully in containers. The plant remains under 1 to 3 feet height (depends on the variety). Whereas, on the ground, in its favorable conditions some cultivars can grow up to 4 feet tall.
Choosing a Pot
For growing chili peppers in containers, choose a container that has sufficient drainage holes (You can also use grow bags). A 5-gallon pot (12 inches deep and wide similarly) is sufficient for a single plant for most of the varieties. Use a 3-gallon pot for small varieties and a little larger 7 or 10-gallon pot for growing a large variety or if you live in a warm climate as peppers are a perennial plant there.
When is the Right Time to Sow Seeds
You can start to sow seeds 6-10 weeks before the last frost date indoors or anytime when the nighttime temperature starts to stay around or above 55 F (12 C). If you live in a tropical or subtropical climate, you can plant pepper seeds anytime except the peak summer.
Either buy young plants from a nearby nursery or start your own seeds. The germination usually takes 1-3 weeks, depends on the warmth and humidity.
Sow the seeds almost ¼ inch deep in a seed starting mix. Place seed trays in a spot that is warm, temperature above 60 F (15 C) is important for germination. Keep misting the seed tray frequently and keep the soil evenly moist. To make germination of seeds easier cover the seeds with a plastic wrap and keep it in a warm location.
Requirements for Growing Hot Peppers in Containers
Growing hot peppers in containers need a position that receives full sun. They are heat loving plants like tomatoes and eggplant. If you are short of space, try growing peppers indoors on a sunny windowsill. Also, choose a spot that has good air circulation to avoid diseases. *Provide shade in the afternoon in summer if you’re growing pepper in tropics.
Good soil is the key to productive pepper plants. Buy best quality potting mix that is well drained and loose, or make your own. It must be rich in organic matter and fertile. For this, you can add well-rotted manure or compost into it at the time of planting. It’s also a good idea to mix 5-10 gm of neem cake at the time of soil preparation; it will protect the young plants from soil-borne diseases and pests.
Keep the soil slightly moist constantly and never allow the plant to dry out completely. Also, avoid overhead watering as this may lead to wet foliage, which can cause fungal infections. At the time, when flowers start to appear and fruits begin to form reduce the watering a little. But be careful, drying out of soil completely results in flower drop.
Soil temperature above 60 F (15 C) is required for best growth. The optimum seed germination temperature is above 68 F (20 C). It can tolerate temperature up to 95 F (35 C) and down to 50 F (10 C) easily. The ideal growing temperature is between 70-90 F (21-32 C).
Chili Plant Care
Like all other plants in tomato family, chili peppers are heavy feeders. The best simple way is to use tomato fertilizers to feed this vegetable. Application of compost and well-rotted manure is also favorable. Feeding once in a month with compost or manure tea boosts the plant’s growth.
Pinching in early growth makes the plant bushier. When the plant is around six inches tall, clip the growing tip, which helps it to be more bush type. If you see the flowers appearing early, remove them. Do this also at the time of transplanting. During the growth, look out for diseases or infected foliage or branch and remove it too. Here’s an excellent article on it, check out!
Growing hot peppers in containers require support especially if you’re keeping your plant in a windy spot. Simply poke a stick near the main stem and tie the plant to it
If your plant is flowering too early deadhead the flowers, it is important. This will direct the plant’s energy into growing and becoming healthy.
Like tomatoes, pepper plants are self-fertile, and you don’t need to do anything.
Pests and Diseases
Aphids are the biggest enemy of pepper plants, so keep an eye on them. Also, in dry and hot weather spider can affect the plant. Other pests to look at are cutworms, hornworms and flea beetles. Common diseases are rot, mildew and bacterial spot.
Time to harvest may vary and depends on the cultivar you’re growing and conditions, but most of the varieties take 2-4 months. You can identify this when they are ready from their size. The longer you leave chilies on the plant, the hotter if flavor they become, but at the same time leaving them on the plant after it’s ready for harvest will decline in further fruiting.