If you have successfully grown tomatoes in West Virginia, you will have no problem with hot peppers, as they are cultivated in much the same manner. Varieties that will do well in the West Virginia garden include 'Early Hot Portugal,' habanero and 'Hungarian Wax,' according to master gardeners at the West Virginia University Cooperative Extension. They also recommend purchasing hot pepper starter plants that are no older than six weeks. Set your hot pepper plants out after the danger of frost has passed.
Remove all weeds from the planting area by hand-pulling or hoeing.
Pour well-rotted manure (60 to 70 lbs. per 1,000 square feet) onto the soil and use a gardening fork to mix it well with the existing soil.
Dig planting holes that are 1 inch deeper than the nursery pots in which the hot pepper plants are growing. The holes should be spaced 18 inches apart. If planting more than one row of hot peppers, place the rows 3 feet apart.
Place the roots of each plant into a planting hole and fill the hole with soil. Pat around the base of each plant to remove any air pockets trapped in the soil.
Mix 1 cup of 5-10-10 fertilizer with 4 gallons of water. Use this solution to water the hot pepper plants after planting.
Keep the soil moist at all times. Check the soil periodically during windy or dry periods in your area of West Virginia, as even a short time in dry soil can harm the plants.
Apply 10-10-10 fertilizer when the first peppers are produced. Dig a 2-inch deep trench around each hot pepper plant (place the trench 5 inches away from the stem). Sprinkle the fertilizer into the trench, at the rate suggested on the package, and cover it with soil. This procedure is known as "side dressing." Water the area until the soil is moist.
Inspect the hot pepper plants for aphids--small green or gray insects. You can usually spot an infection because there is a sticky residue on the peppers' leaves. For current pest management advice on food crops, contact your county's West Virginia University Extension office. There is an office in all 55 counties (see Resources).