Webinar: Growing Peppers 101

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Whether you‘re a pepper aficionado or a first-time pepper planter, this class is for you! Our pepper expert Dan Alexander discusses the different varieties and how to plant for a successful pepper crop. Scroll down for our supply list!


Webinar: Growing Peppers 101

Supply List

  • Sloat organic potting soil/FoxFarm Ocean Forest/Recipe 420
  • EB Stone tomato/veg food
  • Monterey FoliCal if available
  • Down to Earth Oyster Shell
  • 5-gallon size containers (various)
  • Bamboo stakes in packages
  • Pepper seeds, Pepper starts, various
  • Seed starter mix
  • Cow pots
  • Trowels
  • Gloves
  • Animal repellent
  • Bird netting
  • Insecticidal soap

Genus Capsicum

  • 25-30 species, all from South/Central America.
  • Most are perennial, grown as annuals in our climate.
  • Need sun, warmth (even more than tomatoes) and good drainage.
  • Members of the potato family like tomatoes, eggplant.
  • Five species have been domesticated, though some still grow wild.
  • Peppers are self pollinating but cross-pollinate readily, and with their vast genetic library have made many hundred cultivars throughout the world.
  • Bolivian Amazon is the center of biodiversity.
  • As with tomatoes, different varieties of peppers require different lengths of
    time/heat/humidity to ripen.
  • Early varieties are 65-75 days from transplanting seedlings.
  • Mid-season are 75-85 days.
  • Late to very late season are 90-120 days.
  • In our climate, early to mid-season will be most rewarding. But it is possible to
    ripen even very late season peppers.
  • Most pepper varieties are compact, and will easily grow to maturity in a 5-gallon sized
    container (as opposed to a tomato which requires about 15-gallons of space.)
  • Peppers may require light staking, but do not need “tomato cages” for support.
  • Generally, by the end of the season, pepper plants still usually look fresh, but the
    tomatoes will look worn out.
  • Examples of different varieties within the 5 domesticated species:
    ○ C. annuum
    ○ Bell Peppers/mini bells/lunchbox
  • Sweet Italian (Cuban)
    • Jimmy Nardello (My personal favorite – highly recommended)
    • Cornu di Tornu
    • Bergamo
    • Giant Red Marconi
    • Cubano or Cubanel
  • Anaheim (NewMex- many varieties)
  • Poblano (Dried = Ancho)
  • Jalapeno (Smoked = Chipotle)
  • Hot Thai
  • Serrano
  • Cayenne
  • Paprika
  • Fresno (moderately hot Cuban)
  • Shishito (var. Takara consistently sweet, otherwise 10% hot)
  • Pimiento di Padron (10% hot)
  • Cherry
  • C. baccatum – used largely in Peruvian cuisine
  • Aji amarillo (Aji amarillo paste)
  • Aji limon
  • Criolla sella
  • C. chinense – usually very hot
  • Habanero
  • Scotch Bonnet
  • Trinidad Scorpian
  • Carolina Reaper (Ghost x Red Jalapeno, current heat record holder at 1,500,00 to
    2,200,000 Scoville Heat Units)
  • Bhut Jolokia (Ghost) (C. chinense x C. frutescens hybrid > 1,000,000 Scoville units)
  • Habanada (sweet)
  • Flavor is fruity. Most are late to very late season.
  • C. frutescens
    • Fruits usually grow erect. (“Bird Peppers”) believed to have been dispersed by
  • Piri Piri
  • Tabasco (Tabasco Sauce)
    • Still grows wild in Central and South America.
    • May be a parent of C. chinense.C. pubescens
  • Rocoto and Manzano peppers.
    • Cherry and apple shaped peppers.
    • Flowers are purple, seeds are black. Leaves hairy and dark green. Grows as a
      large multi-stemmed vine. Andean – more cold tolerant.
  • Peppers have a self-imposed internal limit on how much fruit will set on the plant.
    • You will get more overall production if you pick the peppers at all stages – green,
      starting to color and ripe – then the plant will continue to set fruit throughout the
  • Peppers require fertilizer but in moderation. Less than tomatoes.
    • Balanced fertilizer, meaning the numbers for the macro nutrients Nitrogen (N),
      Phosphorus (P) and Potash or Potassium (K) should be roughly equal, i.e., 5-5-5
      or 4-3-6, etc.
    • Peppers also require a source of calcium, either in the balanced fertilizer or
      separately from a source like oyster shells. The calcium will limit the problem of
      blossom end rot, a problem for many members of the potato family and for
      squash as well.
  • Peppers are easy to grow from seeds.
    • Start them in small pots indoors or use the moist paper towel in a zip-lock bag on
      the refrigerator technique which I will show you.
  • Peppers do not suffer many diseases, and hot peppers are designed to repel mammals
    from eating the fruit, but rodents will eat the plants themselves.
  • Be sure to check out the “BonChi” (pepper plants grown to be miniature trees like
    Bonsai) at Fatalii.net



ChilePlants.com , Fatalii.net , Marin Library System, sloatgardens.com

Books: DeWitt and Lamson, The Field Guide to Peppers (Timber Press, 2015) Presilla, Peppers of the Americas (Lorena Jones Books (Ten Speed Press,) 2017)

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