Peppers are popular for their bright color, crunchy texture, and many nutrients, including vitamins A and C, potassium, and fiber. Bell peppers are delicious raw or roasted, while hot peppers add a kick of heat to salsas and chilli. Learn how to grow peppers indoors to enjoy homegrown veggies in your recipes and brighten up your living area.
Pepper aficionados measure their level of spiciness on the Scoville scale. Mild bell peppers have a rating of 0 and contain no capsaicin, which is the chemical that gives peppers their heat.
The Scoville scale works its way up through the different chilies to the Carolina Reaper, which people believe to be the world’s hottest pepper.
Among bell peppers, at least, green peppers are fruits that have not yet developed their mature red color. Although green peppers are fine to eat, red bell peppers tend to have a sweeter flavor and be more nutritious.
- Can You Grow Peppers Indoors?
- Preventing and Treating Pests and Disease on Pepper Plants
Can You Grow Peppers Indoors?
It is possible to grow peppers at home in your living room, although the fruits probably won’t get as large as they would in the garden.
When growing peppers indoors, it’s essential to provide enough light and the correct soil temperature. You may need to use artificial light when planting peppers indoors to ensure proper germination and growth.
Choosing a Pepper Variety
The Capsicum genus contains over 30 species. One of the most popular, Capsicum annuum, includes favorites like the bell pepper, jalapeño pepper, and cayenne pepper. Growing habanero at home is much the same as growing poblanos or other pepper varieties.
Unless you have lots of space indoors, it makes sense to grow a smaller pepper variety. Note, however, that smaller pepper varieties are generally hotter. Ornamental peppers are often also surprisingly spicy.
Be careful when working with chili-peppers. Wear gloves, wash your hands after you have finished, and avoid touching your eyes or face. If you have young children or pets, plant one of the many sweet peppers, like banana peppers, or place the pot out of reach.
Growing Peppers Indoors from Seeds
Start pepper seeds indoors in seed trays in mid-spring. Fill the cups with a sterilized potting mix. Before sowing the seeds, soak them in warm water for two to eight hours—until they sink to the bottom of the cup—to speed up germination.
Whether you grow ghost peppers indoors or bell peppers, poke quarter-inch-deep holes in the soil and insert one seed per cup. Cover the seeds loosely with soil.
Keep the trays in a sunny spot with a soil temperature of at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Water until liquid comes out of the drainage holes on the bottom.
Transplant the seedlings when they have two sets of fully grown leaves. The new pots should be at least ten inches deep and ten inches wide with good drainage.
The best soil for peppers in pots is loose, well-drained soil that’s rich in organic matter or a combination of equal parts peat and perlite.
Transplanting Pepper Plants Indoors from the Garden
Don’t worry if you planted pepper seeds or seedlings from a garden center outside but then changed your mind. It’s possible to bring a potted pepper plant directly indoors and even to remove a plant already in the ground.
In the evening, when temperatures are cool—but well before the first frost—carefully dig up the pepper plant. Transfer it to a plastic pot.
Water the plant, then place it in a shady spot for several days. Remove any pests, such as aphids. After several days, move the pepper plant to an in-between spot like a porch. Once the plant has acclimated, bring it indoors.
How to Grow Peppers Indoors: Light and Temperature
Can you grow peppers indoors? Yes, it is possible, but indoor pepper plants require lots of light and warm temperatures. Outside, they need full sun.
Try to give the plants 14 to 16 hours of sunlight daily. Put them by a south or west-facing window if you have one. If necessary, use fluorescent grow lights hung at least three inches above the plants. The ideal temperature depends on the pepper variety.
However, when growing cayenne pepper in pots indoors or another variety, most peppers enjoy daytime temperatures of approximately 80 ℉ and cooler nighttime temperatures—about 70 ℉. Increase the temperature by using a heat mat or placing the pots on top of the fridge.
Growing Peppers Indoors: Watering, Fertilizing, and Pollinating
Keep the soil moist but not wet. Overwatering may cause diseases like root rot. When the soil surface is slightly dry, water with a spray bottle, spraying the soil, not the plant.
The ideal soil pH is between 5.5 and 7.5. Increase the pH with ground agricultural lime or lower it with compost or fertilizer. You may add mulch in the summer to prevent your plants from getting too hot.
Fertilize after planting and then monthly until fruiting starts. At that point, switch to fertilizing weekly. Use a balanced fertilizer (equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium).
When the flowers appear, use a cotton swab to rub pollen from the anthers onto the stigma, the large central stalk. Pollinating increases pepper plants’ yield.
How to Grow Peppers Indoors: Staking and Pruning
If your pepper plant starts bending, support it with stakes or a tomato cage. When growing habanero peppers indoors or out, pruning peppers is not necessary but does encourage a strong central stem and discourage pests and diseases. Wait until your plants are at least one foot tall before pruning them.
When small-fruiting varieties, like habanero and jalapeno, are small, clip the top half-inch to an inch of growth. Early in the growing season, all pepper plants benefit from the trimming of side shoots and flowers.
As the season progresses, remove damaged or low-lying foliage. For large-fruiting varieties, like bell peppers, remove suckers—the small shoots where leaves meet stems.
To encourage ripening late in the growing season, prune leaves or stems blocking light from reaching fruits. Consider trimming off the top three to six inches of branches, plus any flowers and fruits that won’t ripen in time.
The answer to “Can you grow peppers indoors?” is yes! Indoor pepper plants sometimes produce fruit for several months. Expect to see fruits about 60 to 90 days after planting.
Pick peppers once they’re shiny and firm and your desired size and color. Use a sharp knife so as not to damage the plant. Leave one to two inches of stem on the fruits.
Store homegrown peppers in a plastic bag in the crisper. They typically keep for one to two weeks in the fridge.
Preventing and Treating Pests and Disease on Pepper Plants
Unfortunately, peppers are susceptible to several pests and diseases. Try to plant disease-resistant pepper varieties and seeds.
Proper plant care is a good part of pest and disease prevention. Ensure that the pot drains well and that the soil has the correct temperature, pH, and nutrient levels. Add compost and mulch and keep the pot well-weeded.
Water consistently and near the soil to avoid spraying the plant. Do your best to leave the roots intact. If you’re concerned about diseases, disinfect your tools between uses.
Treatment varies depending on the pest or disease. In general, destroy infected plants and pick off insects like Colorado potato beetles or little green bugs on pepper plants like aphids.
You now know the answer to questions like “Do you need to prune indoor pepper plants?” and even “Can you grow peppers indoors?”
Growing peppers indoors is possible but demands some planning, from starting peppers from seed to ensuring the seedlings receive enough light.
Once you’ve set the plants up, their care requirements are not onerous. Learn how to grow peppers indoors to conquer the indoor gardening process, from sowing seeds to savoring crunchy peppers raw or in recipes.
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