By Jennifer Poindexter
Do you enjoy growing your own peppers? Would you like a few tips to speed up the process from planting to harvest?
If so, you’re in the right place. Though it’s true that nature must take its course many times when gardening, there are also some things you can do to ensure the plant has everything it needs to perform optimally.
Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or new and looking for tips before you begin, I’ve got you covered. Here are fifteen tips you can use to make peppers grow faster when raising them in your garden:
1. Consider Your Pepper Variety
If you’re looking for faster peppers, you should pick a milder variety. The hotter the pepper, the longer it takes to reach harvest. In most cases, you’ll be harvesting peppers within eight to ten weeks after transplant.
However, a general rule of thumb is bell peppers take approximately sixty-five days to harvest after transplant, jalapenos take around seventy days, and habaneros can take up to one hundred days to harvest after transplanting!
2. Start Your Seeds Early
The next tip for getting your pepper plants to grow quickly is to start your seeds early. By starting your plants indoors before the temperatures are adequate outdoors, you’re speeding up your harvest time once transplanted in the garden.
Consider starting your pepper seeds indoors eight to ten weeks prior to transplanting. This will not only speed up harvest time, but it also makes for larger and stronger plants at the time of planting outdoors. This should help them thrive even through the initial adjustment to new growing conditions.
3. Don’t Be Afraid of Artificial Light
Some gardeners shy away from grow lights. There was a time that they were big, bulky, and quite intimidating. Now, they’re affordable, condensed, and provide wonderful amounts of light for growing plants.
You can use your grow light to grow plants indoors year-round, and they’re helpful when starting seeds indoors. Just be mindful of the distance between the plant and the light as the plant can become leggy if there’s too great a distance between it and the light.
4. Harden Your Seedlings Off
After you’ve put in all the work to start plants from seeds, don’t skip the step of hardening them off prior to transplanting outdoors. This is vital because it’s the period where the plants have time to acclimate to new growing conditions little by little.
Hardening your seedlings off prior to transplant could keep them from going into shock when moved outdoors permanently which will keep their growth rate steady and avoid any delay of harvest.
5. Pick a Large Enough Container
Did you know some people grow peppers in containers? If you’re low on growing space, it’s a great idea to place them in containers outdoors. Other gardeners place them in containers to overwinter the plants or grow them inside year-round.
Whatever your reason for selecting this growing method, ensure you provide a large enough container. The planter should be between three and five gallons, and the larger the variety of pepper, the larger the container should be. This is vital as a large enough container should keep the roots from becoming bound which will slow the plant’s growth rate.
6. Prune When Necessary
This next tip will depend upon your growing location. If you live in a warmer area with a longer gardening season, consider topping your pepper plants when they’re two months old. This should create stronger, sturdier plants which should discourage setbacks in the growing process.
However, if you live in a colder climate with a shorter growing season, it may not be worth the time it takes the plants to grow back for you to incorporate this step. Though the peppers grow back quickly, every day counts when you have a short growing season.
7. Provide More Heat
Peppers love heat! The more heat you provide, the more encouraged they are to produce. When growing seedlings, ensure the seeds are kept at approximately 85-degrees Fahrenheit for germination to occur.
When you’re deciding when to move your peppers outdoors, ensure the daytime temperatures are around 70- to 85-degrees Fahrenheit and the nighttime temperatures are around 60-degrees Fahrenheit.
8. Balance the Soil’s pH
Our next tip is to balance the soil’s pH prior to planting. Peppers enjoy growing in soil that has a pH between 5.8 and 6.8.
However, if the soil is too alkaline or too acidic it will discourage the plants from taking in nutrients. When a plant can’t receive the nutrients it needs, it delays the growth of the plant. Take the extra step to check your soil prior to transplanting to give your peppers every reason to thrive.
9. Pick Early Blooms
Have you ever had small pepper plants try to bloom early? You don’t want this because all the effort of the plant goes into producing fruit instead of producing a stronger plant.
If you see a plant trying to bloom early, pick the blooms. This will encourage it to continue to grow and become stronger prior to fruiting. This creates a healthier plant which is the fastest growing kind.
10. Water Correctly
I typically recommend using the deep watering method when growing most plants. The reason being is it helps develop a strong root system without oversaturating the plant.
Peppers are no different. Water them deeply and test the soil before adding more water. When the soil is dry to your first knuckle, water the plant deeply again. If you apply too much water, it encourages a weaker root system. If you underwater the plant, it can lead to slow development and nutrient deficiencies. Find the balance in watering by utilizing this tip to encourage optimal growth in your plant.
11. Fertilize as Needed
Providing the right nutrients for your pepper plants is vital to their efficient growth. Therefore, be sure to amend the soil prior to planting.
However, once planted, consider providing fertilizer on a regular basis. When the plant is initially growing, apply a fertilizer higher in nitrogen to encourage plant growth. Once the plant starts producing blooms, add a fertilizer higher in phosphorus to encourage greater production.
12. Transplant in a Timely Manner
When you grow your plants from seeds, you might be hesitant to make the move outdoors out of fear that they won’t thrive.
Don’t delay when the plants have outgrown their containers. If it’s still too cold to move the plants outdoors, move them to larger containers. If the temperatures are right, transplant them in their permanent growing location. This step will ensure the plants don’t become root bound and have their growth stunted.
13. Choose Plenty of Sun
Peppers love heat and plenty of sunlight. If your pepper plants are slow to grow, look at their environment. Do they have too much shade?
If so, make changes to the area to provide more sunlight. If they’re in a container, move them. If they’re in the ground, trim surrounding plants to provide more sun. Pepper plants need at least eight hours of direct sunlight each day. Ensure they’re getting this to encourage ideal growth.
14. Harvest at the Right Time
Some people forget that the timelier you harvest a plant, the more you encourage the plant to thrive. In some cases, plants will produce more the more they’re harvested.
Peppers don’t quite fit into this category. However, the timelier you harvest the fruit of the plant, the faster the other fruit grows to catch-up. If your pepper plants are slow to produce, consider harvesting the fruit of each plant at peak ripeness to speed up the process.
15. Choose Alternative Growing Methods
The last tip to consider is to grow your peppers using alternative growing methods. One option is to try hydroponics. This is where the roots grow over a liquid which provides the right amount of nutrients and water for the plant to grow at its best.
One of my favorite ways to grow peppers is in a greenhouse. This provides plenty of sunlight and lots of heat which peppers love. Just be mindful, in this setting, it’s common for the plants to become huge. Make preparations for this at the time of planting.
You now have fifteen different ways to help your pepper plants grow faster. Though there’s no magic potion to make these plants produce as quickly as we’d all probably like, there are some things you can do to keep them healthy and thriving.
Healthy plants face fewer setbacks which leads to a faster growing plant. By providing the best growing conditions, your peppers should have what they need to prosper.