Peppers are a diverse plant, ranging in flavor from sweet to unbearably spicy. Provided their desired conditions are accurately mimicked, they can flourish in an indoor environment, allowing you ample pepper harvests throughout the year. In order to ensure the healthiest plant and largest harvest, you need to provide the plant with all that it needs to thrive. Here are some basic tips to help your pepper plants thrive.
When to Start Peppers Indoors
Peppers can be grown entirely indoors or started indoors and transplanted to an outdoor location. If you intend to transplant the peppers outdoors, you will want to plant the seeds about 8 to 12 weeks prior to the date of the last frost in your region. This will allow them to become fully grounded and strong prior to being placed outdoors. They will need to be placed outdoors about 2 weeks prior to the last frost. By this point in their growth cycle, they will be established enough to be able to tolerate the inclement weather and colder soils of an outdoor garden.
If you intend to grow the peppers indoors throughout their entire growth cycle, then they can be started at any time. As long as their needs in terms of water, lighting, warmth, and nutrition are being met sufficiently, they can thrive indoors year-round. You may require the use of a grow light, particularly in wintertime, to help simulate the proper growing conditions.
Tips from Growing Peppers from Seed
There are many different factors that will determine the health of the plant, each of which should be given equal consideration. They will require ample warmth and sunlight, both of which will need to be mimicked when you grow peppers indoors.
Providing Ample Space
Peppers will require a lot of space to grow. They have large, extensive root systems, which will require a large pot in order for them to spread their roots fully. Additionally, the plant itself can grow quite large, depending on the variety. Be sure to pick a place in your home that is open and free of clutter, so the plant can grow unimpeded. If you are short on space, consider growing a smaller variety of pepper. Consider choosing a smaller variety, such as dwarf chili peppers, because they have smaller root systems and require less space to spread out. You can also prune pepper plants if needed to reduce the overall volume.
Peppers require bright, consistent light sources in order to flourish. Place your pepper plants near a window to maximize their lighting source throughout the day. South and southwest facing windows receive the largest quantity of natural lighting. During the hot summer months, consider bringing the plant outdoors during the day, so it can soak in as much light as possible. Also, consider supplementing with a grow light to improve the lighting conditions for the peppers. If you intend to grow the peppers indoors for their entire life cycle, the use of a grow light will be integral in meeting the lighting needs of the plant.
Finding the Ideal Temperature
Every species of pepper is going to prefer slightly different temperature ranges. For best results, research into the particular species you are growing to ensure you can accommodate their precise needs. Most peppers thrive at similar temperatures as humans, making them an ideal houseplant year-round as they can easily acclimate to the temperature of your home. Keeping your thermostat set to around 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal. When growing chili peppers, the plant likes warm temperatures during the day but cooler temperatures in the nighttime. To accommodate this, consider turning the thermostat down overnight or relocating the plant to a cooler location like a closet or temperature-controlled garage.
Humidity Requirements of Peppers
Different species will vary in terms of their desired humidity. Habaneros, for instance, prefer high humidity, whereas many chili peppers require moderate humidity. For plants that are in need of more humidity, consider misting with a spray bottle. The amount that you mist them will depend on the desired humidity of the plant, but generally, you should mist once per day until the water begins dripping from the leaves.
Pepper plants could benefit from the occasional use of fertilizer. A balanced fertilizer at a ration of 15-15-15, nitrogen-phosphorous-potassium, is ideal. The peppers should only need fertilizer one to two times throughout the growth process. Allow the seeds to fully sprout and establish their root systems before applying fertilizer the first time. At about 6 inches to 1 foot of growth, you can add the first fertilizer treatment. The second fertilizer treatment should be done when the peppers first begin forming and are the size of a dime. Composted manure also makes a fantastic fertilizer option for pepper plants. Add a couple handfuls of the fertilizer to each plant and spread it evenly around the base of the plant. After adding the fertilizer, water the plant thoroughly.
Water is quite possibly the most important element in properly caring for a plant. It is essential to the health of a plant, and too much or too little could result in the plant becoming unhealthy and possibly dying. Most peppers require moderate watering and can easily drown from too much water. Because of this, it’s important to plant your peppers into pots with drainage holes and use well-draining soil so that the roots don’t become submerged in excess water. When the top layer of soil in the pot feels mostly dry, with slight dampness, it’s time to water. Add enough water so that it just barely begins trickling from the holes in the bottom of the pot. Empty any excess water in the base of dish so that the plant roots aren’t soaking in the runoff. This could result in root rot over time.
When determining the location of your indoor pepper plants, consider the spot where the air in your home will be the cleanest. Since plants metabolize oxygen to grown, they are sensitive to pollutants in the air and can become unhealthy and diseased if their oxygen supply contains chemicals. For smokers, keep all smoke outside and away from the plants. Tobacco smoke and residue is known to cause a number of ailments in plants. Always wash your hands after smoking and before handling plants to minimize their risk of exposure. Additionally, your pepper plants should be kept in a clean room, free of kitchen odors and smoke, and with easily accessible windows to provide fresh air as needed.
Time to Grow
The time that the pepper plant takes to grow will depend on the species you planted. The seeds can take as long as 2 weeks to 1 month to fully germinate, and an additional 3 months to begin producing their fruits. The size, coloring, and texture of the peppers are all indicative of whether the pepper is ready to be harvested. This will vary greatly depending on the variety. If harvested too early or late, it’s not a big deal as it can still be eaten. However, the pepper will be most flavorful when it is fully developed.
With the right lighting, temperature, humidity, and nutrients, you can grow healthy and vibrant pepper plants that will provide you a large and flavorful harvest. Since they thrive in warm conditions, growing them indoors is easy because you can ensure the temperature remains consistent. Keep in mind, however, that peppers aren’t a low-maintenance plant, and they will require regular attention and maintenance in order to truly flourish indoors.