Best Place For Sweet or Hot Peppers
Peppers need lots of sun. They do best with 8 to 10 hours a day, although they will grow with as little as 6 hours a day. Locate pepper plants where they are protected from wind. Because they are very sensitive to cold be sure the soil has warmed to over 65F and all danger of frost is past before planting seedlings outside unprotected.
Note - Not Near Black Walnut Tree
Peppers suffer stunting, wilting, or even death when they come in contact with black walnut roots. Allelopathic reactions occur within a circle one and a half times the distance from the trunk to the outermost branches.
Soil Conditions - Peppers do best in fairly rich soil that both drains well and holds water well, such as a sandy loam. Add peat moss or chopped leaves to the soil every year or two to achieve this texture. Like most vegetables, they prefer slightly acidic soil (pH 6.0 to 7.0). Pepper roots normally grow down about 8 inches, but a few varieties penetrate soil as deep as 4 feet if the soil is not compacted.
Starting From Seed
Start pepper plants indoors under fluorescent lights from 6 to 8 weeks prior to the expected final frost in your area. Peppers don’t do well when started on a window sill. The earlier their start, the greater their headstart for production of fruit when they are finally planted outdoors. Since assuring frost free weather requires delaying planting seedlings outside until a month after last frost, they will be in your care for almost two months. Plant seeds in peat pots filled with soilless medium according to package instructions. Germination takes from 8 to 20 days, depending on the variety. After the leaves begin to appear adjust the lights so that they sit about one inch above the plants as they get progressively larger. Operate lights for 10 hours a day. Seedlings like it warm at all times; over 72 degrees is best. By the way, pepper seed will last for 2 years if stored in the refrigerator and kept dry. [See Starting Plants From Seed. We offer a broad range of seed starting equipment and supplies in Yardener's Tool Shed; click here
Starting With Seedling
Choose stocky seedlings with healthy foliage and no blossoms. If blossoms appear, pinch them off over a period of 3 weeks or more, so the plant can spend its energy building roots and foliage. Keep seedlings moist until it is warm enough to plant them outdoors.
Planting Seedlings in the Garden
Peppers are much more sensitive to cold than tomatoes or eggplant. So it is very important to wait until daytime temperatures approach 70 and night time temperatures do not go below 60. If the seedling experiences many nights below 55 their growth will be stunted for the whole season. Soil temperatures need to be above 55. Peppers flourish when soil has warmed to between 70 and 80°F. Choose an overcast day or plant in the late afternoon to protect the young plants from the hot sun while they cope with transplant shock. With a trowel, loosen the soil at the site and (optional) mix in a tablespoon of fertilizer per plant. Dig a hole at least as deep and slightly wider than the container that the seedling is in. Pop seedlings from plastic market packs by pushing gently from the bottom to dislodge the soil and roots together. Plants in peat cups can be set directly into the soil after the bottoms of the containers have been punctured. Tear back the tops of peat pots so that they do not protrude above the soil surface. Set one plant in each hole. Set them in the hole at the same level they sat in the pot. Press soil gently around plant stems and water well.
Amendments In Planting or Transplanting
There are a number of products at the garden center that will help your newly planted or transplanted plants deal better with the stress inherent in the planting process. All healthy plants have beneficial fungi, called mycorrhizal fungi, living on their roots. You can buy these valuable additions to your plant’s ecosystem. See the file describing Using Micorrhizae When Planting.
In addition, there are a number of products such as seaweed, compost tea, and beneficial soil microbes that when added to the planting process will help your newly established plants get going faster. See the file New Technology In Plant Growth Activators
Plant bell pepper plants 18 to 24 inches apart from each other and from other plants. If space is at a premium, set them as close as 12 inches apart but plan to fertilize them a bit more since they are competing with each other for food.
Growing Peppers In Containers
Most sweet peppers grow well in containers as long as they are big enough 12 inches minimum, but larger is better; 5 gallon pail or larger is best. Space-saving sweet pepper varieties include Canape, Gypsy Hybrid, Italian Sweet, and Pepper Pot.
Note about Greenhouse - Sweet peppers do not do well in a greenhouse environment.
[See Growing Plants In Containers
[See Choosing Containers