Learn how to grow black pepper (peppercorn), growing it is difficult but you can try this. Black pepper is the most popular, most expensive and most essential spice of the world that much pricey that it is also called “Black Gold”.
USDA Zones — 10 – 11
Difficulty — Hard
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
Pepper plant is native to South India, and is extensively cultivated there and other tropical regions like Brazil, Myanmar and Indonesia. Pepper plant is tropical, moreover, it grows mostly in the Southern states of India and these states have very humid climate (almost 90% of pepper cultivation of the world done there). It means black pepper loves extremely humid climates where temperature never falls below 60 F (16 C). It is a vine with beautiful heart-shaped leaves (like betel leaf), it grows on a support from hanging aerial roots and produces small spike like white flowers in summer before setting fruits.
How to Grow Black Pepper Plant
Sowing pepper seeds can be done, but only fresh seeds are germinated, seeds are viable for 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 three 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.
Pepper corn can also be propagated from cuttings.
Mix compost and sand to soil before planting. Make hole in soil and plant the seedlings or plants at the same depth as it was grown in previous pot. Pack the soil firmly around the base of 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 extensive root system.
While planting pepper plant always remember to choose a location that remains humid and temperature mostly be maintained constantly around 75 to 85 degrees 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 most essential need while growing black pepper, 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%.
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 saucer filled with water, this will also increase the humidity level.
Apply 10 kg cow manure or compost per year on a mature plant so that the soil remains rich in nutrients. Fertilize it with 10-10-10 slow release fertilizer according to the product’s instruction in the beginning of growing season. Application of epsom salt is also beneficial. *It is best to get your soil tested before fertilizing.
Do mulching with organic matter to prevent moisture 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
Most common disease that infect is root rot, which happens due to overwatering. In pests it can be attacked by aphids, slugs and scale insects. Also beware of red spiders during indoor cultivation.