DIY Network

How to Grow Pepper Plants

Green, red or yellow, peppers make a wonderful addition to any backyard vegetable garden.

More in Outdoors

pepper plant leaves form canopy to protect fruit
  • Time

    Several Months

  • Price Range

    $1 - $50

  • Difficulty



Step 1: Purchase Plants

Garden stores sell pepper plants in a wide variety of colors. Pepper plants are best started from transplants rather than from seed. Look for seedlings that have thicker stems and that aren't flowering yet. It is better for the pepper plant to spend its energy growing roots rather than fruit in its earliest stages.

seedlings are past difficult germination stage

Step 2: Prepare Site

Pepper plants like hot and sunny weather, but the fruits themselves need to be shaded. Choose a location that gets full morning sun, but less afternoon light as the sun can slip under the foliage and scald the ripening fruit. Use a pitchfork to turn the soil and work in some compost or slow-release 10-10-10 fertilizer.

arrate soil for peppers to thrive

Step 3: Plant Peppers

Well after the fear of frost has passed, place plants in the ground at the same level they were in the pot. Space plants and rows about a foot and a half apart. Water well. Mark the plants with garden markers. Place a layer of plastic mulch around the plants to help conserve moisture, provide warmth, and prevent the spread of soil-borne diseases.

peppers will dry out if planted too shallow

Step 4: Feed and Water

Peppers should receive about an inch of water every week. Fertilize or compost when plants reach half size, and again when they begin setting fruit. If plastic mulch was not used, place a thick layer of mulch around the plants to prevent weeds and retain moisture.

newspaper added to base of plants protects leaves

Step 5: Harvest Peppers

Peppers can be harvested and eaten at any stage, though green peppers are normally left on the plants until fully grown. Colored peppers can be eaten green or left on the plant until their colors fully develop. Ripe peppers will easily separate from the plant, but it is a good idea to use pruning shears to remove immature fruit.