How to Grow the Perfect Hot Pepper


Hot peppers have increased in popularity as the desire for new flavors and experimentation with ethnic foods have increased. Each pepper variety has a different flavor and heat level. Choosing the perfect pepper depends on your personal taste. Once you have decided which pepper you prefer, you can grow it in your own garden. Favorites include cayenne, jalapeno, red chili, Hungarian wax and large red cherry peppers.

Step 1

Taste an assortment of hot peppers and determine which you prefer. Save the seeds from your favorite pepper, or purchase seeds for that variety.

Step 2

Start the seeds indoors in late winter in a small pot filled with starter mix. Barely cover the seed with 1/8 inch of soil and water it gently. Water lightly to keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate.

Step 3

Transplant the seedlings outdoors when the weather warms to between 70 and 80 degrees F during the day and at least 60 degrees F at night. Plant the seedlings or transplants 18 inches apart and water with a starter fertilizer solution or a one-quarter strength water-soluble fertilizer.

Step 4

Water the peppers regularly to keep the soil moist. Regular moisture is important for peppers. In hot, dry climates, watering every day may be required. Pull weeds by hand when they appear.

Step 5

Fertilize with a side dressing of 5-10-10 or 8-16-16 fertilizer when the first fruits appear. Place the fertilizer in a row beside the plants, but do not allow it to touch the plants. Water after fertilizing.

Step 6

Harvest peppers when they reach the desired size and maturity. Once the peppers appear, they grow quickly, so check the plant regularly. Some peppers are picked green, while other types are allowed to mature and ripen on the plant. Peppers are ready for picking when they break away easily. Experiment to determine which level of maturity your prefer.

Things You'll Need

  • Trowel
  • Small pots
  • Starter mix
  • Water-soluble fertilizer or starter fertilizer solution
  • 5-10-10 fertilizer
  • Gloves
  • Shade cloth (optional)


  • Ohio State University: Growing Peppers in the Home Garden
  • University of Illinois Extension: Watch Your Garden Grow--Peppers
Keywords: perfect hot peppers, grow hot peppers, grow perfect peppers

About this Author

Diane Watkins has been writing since 1984, with experience in newspaper, newsletter and web content. She writes two electronic newsletters and content around the web. Watkins has a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Clemson University. She has taken graduate courses in biochemistry and education.