Learn how to grow black pepper (peppercorn) in your garden; it is one of the most popular and most essential spices in the world.
Other Names — Blanc Poivre, Extrait de Poivre, Grain de Poivre, Hu Jiao, Kali Mirchi, Kali Mirch, Kosho, Krishna, Marich, Maricha, Pepe, Pepper, Pepper Extract, Pepper Plant, Peppercorn, Pfeffer, Pimenta, Pimienta, Pimienta Negra y Pimienta Blanca, Piper, Piper nigrum, Piperine, Poivre, Poivre Noir, Poivre Noir et Blanc, Poivre Noir et Poivre Blanc, Poivrier, Vellaja, White Pepper.
Growing Conditions for Black Pepper
- The pepper plant is native to South India and is extensively cultivated there and in other tropical regions like Brazil, Myanmar, and Indonesia.
- Black pepper loves extremely hot and humid climates where the temperature never falls below 60 F (16 C).
- It is a vine with beautiful heart-shaped leaves (like betel leaf), it grows on support from hanging aerial roots and produces small spike-like white flowers in summer before setting fruits.
Also Read: Growing Spices at Home
How to Grow Black Pepper Plant
Sowing black pepper seeds can be done, but only fresh seeds are germinated, seeds are viable for a very short period.
To propagate it from seeds fill the container with a quality potting mix that contains a good amount of organic matter. Use your finger to poke holes, each 1/2 inch deep and about 1 to 1.5 inches apart. Drop a seed in each hole, then cover it with soil. Water the seeds often and keep the soil moist.
Note: It can also be propagated from cuttings.
Mix compost and coarse sand to the soil before planting. Make a hole in the soil and plant the seedlings or plants at the same depth as it was grown in the previous post. Pack the soil firmly around the base of the plant to hold it in the right position and water thoroughly.
If planting in pots, use a pot that is large enough as black pepper plants have an extensive root system.
Requirements for Growing Black Pepper
While planting pepper plant always remember to choose a location that remains humid and temperature mostly be maintained constantly around 75 to 85 Fahrenheit (24-30 C).
However, pepper plant can tolerate temperature between 50 F-104 F (10-40 C)
Black Pepper plants do best in fertile and medium clayey soil that retain slight moisture. Good drainage is always the essential need while growing black pepper in pot or ground. Waterlogged soil can damage the plant. Soil pH level could be anywhere between 5.5 and 7, add lime if the soil is too acidic and sulfur if alkaline.
Look for dappled shade, a spot that receives daylong filtered sunlight is optimal as the plant can be damaged if exposed to too much direct sunlight. If planting in a sunny area must use a shade cloth that filters the sunlight to at least 50%.
If growing in a cool climate, provide full sun.
Be sure to give the pepper plant plenty of water to keep the soil slightly moist always, not allowing the soil to dry out between watering spells.
Black Pepper Plant Care
Peppercorn plant loves humidity, the more, the better. For this, mist the plant often with soft water. If you’re growing black pepper in pots place them on a saucer filled with water, this will also increase the humidity level.
When growing on the ground, apply 10 kilograms of well-rotted manure or compost per year on a mature plant so that the soil remains rich in nutrients. In pots, side-dress the plants with compost.
Fertilize it with balanced 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 slow-release fertilizer, according to the product’s instruction at the beginning of the growing season. Application of Epsom salt is also beneficial.
Note: If cultivating in a large amount, it is best to get your soil tested before fertilizing.
Do mulching with organic matter to prevent evaporation and weeds.
The black, white or green peppers are actually harvested from a single plant. The color depends on the different degrees of maturation and how the black pepper is processed.
Pepper fruit is harvested before maturity and dried in the hot sun. After drying it becomes wrinkled and black.
To learn in detail about harvesting and processing read this guide.
Pests and diseases
The most common disease that infects it is root rot, which happens due to overwatering.
In pests, it can be attacked by aphids, slugs and scale insects. Also, beware of spider mites during indoor cultivation.
Also Read: How to Grow Cardamom