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The joy in walking outside and watching your own pepper plants grow… and then the pure delight in harvesting your own crop! Sun and heat are the main requirements for growing peppers, but for more details, read on. 

Grow from seed or buy plants?

If you’re just starting out, fired up with enthusiasm and ready to dive into vegetable growing, you’re better off buying plants. Choose varieties suitable to your climate and be sure to select strong, healthy plants.

Starting your pepper plants off from seed requires a little more attention. To be successful, choose varieties adapted to your climate, buy quality seeds and plant in all-natural seed-starting soil.

Steps for seeding:

  1. Start seeds indoors, 10 to 12 weeks before the last frost.
  2. Ensure young plants have a minimum of 12 hours of light (if necessary, opt for artificial light).
  3. Keep soil moist, but beware of over-watering.
  4. Transplant when young plants have a minimum of two real leaves and they’re touching.
  5. Fertilize young plants with seaweed fertilizer once or twice before transplanting.
  6. One week before transplanting, acclimate your plants to outside conditions: have them out during the day and bring them in at night.
  7. Set plants in their permanent location two to three nights before transplanting.

Pepper plants in the garden

Not everyone has a large property and space to plant a vegetable garden. If you already have flowerbeds, use them! Here are a few tips to successfully grow sweet and hot peppers in the garden.

Steps for planting out in the garden:

  1. Wait until the risk of frost has passed.
  2. Locate your garden where plants will receive at least 8 hours of sun exposure.
  3. Loosen the soil surface.
  4. Add 1.5 to 2 cm of compost (note: in very nitrogen-rich soil, plants will tend to produce an abundance of leaves, but fewer fruit).
  5. Add a natural granular fertilizer if necessary.
  6. Use a rake to mix the compost and fertilizer into the soil.
  7. Put plants in the soil, leaving a 30 to 60 cm space depending on the variety.
  8. When pepper plants reach a height of 60 cm, stake with tomato cages.
  9. Water regularly.
  10. Cover the soil with organic straw, which will cut down on weeding and watering.

Container growing

When space is at a premium, you’re living in the city or time is a factor, container-growing is the answer. Use all vertical and horizontal surfaces on the patio, deck, or balcony to grow a few pepper, tomato, and even cucumber plants! The soil in containers warms up quite fast in the sun.

Steps for container-growing:

  1. Choose a location that will receive a minimum of 8 hours sunlight. Six hours is probably sufficient, but you won’t get as many peppers.
  2. Plant your containers when all risk of frost has passed.
  3. Opt for containers (pots etc.) with a diameter of 20 to 30 cm depending on the variety, dark in colour, and that drain well. Geotextile Smart Pots are an excellent choice.
  4. Use a soil mix specifically for growing vegetables.
  5. Moisten the soil before putting it in the container.
  6. Mix a natural, granular fertilizer into the surface of the soil.
  7. Plant!
  8. Water on a regular basis.

Protect plants from the cold

Sweet and hot peppers are fearful of the cold and adore the heat! Sweet pepper plants are particularly sensitive to cool temperatures and winds that blow off their flowers, with a smaller yield the result. To maintain your pepper plants in the protected warmth they crave, and to ensure a good yield of peppers, follow this advice:

  • Hold back on planting for two weeks after the risk of frost.
  • After planting, protect your plants (pepper plants in particular) from the wind and cold by wrapping a sheet of clear plastic around several plants in such a way as to create a fence, or wrap a single tomato cage (one plant) at a time in clear plastic.
  • Grow sweet and hot pepper plants under shelter, such as a tunnel or greenhouse.
  • In the garden, opt for a black geotextile sheet installed before planting instead of organic straw.
  • At the beginning and at the end of the growing season, night-time temperatures often dip below 10 °C. Protect your plants with a floating cover or garden fabric – or bring containers indoors.

Summer maintenance

Minimum maintenance throughout the summer will ensure a plentiful harvest of delicious sweet and hot peppers.

Watering: water thoroughly but not to excess. To fine tune the taste of your peppers, space out your watering towards the end of the summer. This concentrates the flavour.
Fertilizing: fertilize with seaweed fertilizer.
  • Garden: once during the growing season
  • Container: twice during the growing season
Insects and disease: in optimal conditions, pepper plants are not generally susceptible. To protect them against slugs, put roughly-crushed egg shells around your plants.

Harvest time – at long last!

For nutritious and delicious sweet and hot peppers, harvest them when they are fully mature. Protecting your plants from the cold and ensuring they get enough heat is paramount all season long, but particularly towards the end of the summer.

When the threat of frost becomes serious, harvest all your peppers even if they are still green.
 
When you harvest your peppers, always use shears and never break the stem, or stalk.

Yields:

Sweet peppers: 4 to 8 peppers per plant, and more for varieties producing smaller peppers.
Hot peppers: under favourable conditions, it is possible to harvest 20 to 30 peppers per plant.