Chili peppers (Capsicum annuum) come in many varieties, each with a pungent spicy taste, ranging from mild to extremely hot. It is this spiciness that gives Mexican dishes a punch of flavor and explosive hotness to the taste buds. Chili peppers start off green in color and turn to red, purple then orange the longer they are left to grow on the plant. The peppers can get up to 8 inches long, growing on bushy plants that get about 3 feet tall. The most popular varieties of peppers include jalapenos, ancho, cayenne and red cherry.
Select an area for planting the chili peppers outside where the plants will receive at least six hours of full sun daily. Wait to plant, two to three weeks after the last frost, giving the soil a chance to warm up.
Prepare the area for planting by raking or shoveling the dirt to loosen. Mix in a bucketful of compost to make well-draining soil.
Dig a hole that is twice the width of the root ball and at least three times the depth. If planting more than one chili pepper, space the holes about 1 foot apart and allow 2 to 3 feet in between rows.
Remove the chili pepper plant from the container it was in and place in the hole. The bottom set of leaves on the plant should set right above ground level. Planting chili peppers deeply allows for a strong root system to develop, making for a stronger, healthy plant. Fill in the hole with the soil and tamp down gently around the plant.
Water the well after planting to help the soil settle and get the plant established. Keep the soil constantly moist by watering every two to three days, or more often during the summer if the soil is drying out sooner.
Apply fertilizer about two weeks after planting and use a fertilizer designed for vegetables, such as 5-10-5, following the instructions on the package. Fertilize once a month and stop once the chili peppers are beginning to mature.
Add mulch around each chili pepper plant three weeks after planting. Use fresh compost and mound it up slightly around the stem. This will add needed nutrients to the plants, maintain moisture in the soil and help control the weeds.