How to Grow Chili Pepper Plants


Chili peppers require the same basic care as sweet peppers when planted in the home garden. These tender plants cannot tolerate even light frosts and prefer warm temperatures. Although they can be started from seed inside during late winter, purchasing seedlings from the nursery is typically preferred. Due to their long growing season of 100 days or more, direct seeding generally is not an option for most of the United States.

Step 1

Prepare the soil in sunny location that receives at least six to eight of direct sunlight a day. Till to a depth of 6 to 8 inches and remove sod, rocks and other debris.

Step 2

Spread the soil with a 2- to 3-inch layer of compost or well-rotted manure. Work it into the soil with a garden tiller or hoe. This improve soil texture, promotes drainage and increases aeration. Organic matter also releases nutrients slowly during the growing season.

Step 3

Dig holes twice the size of the rootball of your chili pepper plants, spaced 12 to 18 inches apart in rows. Allow 24 to 36 inches between rows for cultivation if you intend to use a garden tiller. Otherwise, space rows 18 to 20 inches apart.

Step 4

Plant pepper plants after all danger of frost has passed in your area and nighttime temperatures remain above 50 to 55 degrees F. According to the University of Illinois, pepper plants exposed to cold nighttime temperatures grow slowly, their leaves may yellow and leaves and blossoms may drop.

Step 5

Place the seedlings into the hole so the plant rests at its original planting depth. Fill in around the plant with soil. Firm down with your hands to secure the plant.

Step 6

Fertilize each pepper plant with 1 tsp. of 5-10-10 fertilizer by sprinkling the fertilizer on the soil encircling the plant. Repeat when blossoms appear. An application of 1 tsp. of Epsom salts dissolved in a quart of water at this time also promotes good fruit formation. Repeat application of Epsom salts in 10 days.

Step 7

Water thoroughly to saturate the soil to the root level. Keep soil evenly moist until the seedlings show signs of new growth. Once growth appears, reduce watering to deep watering once a week or whenever the soil dries. Check soil moisture by inserting your finger into the soil to a depth of 1 inch. If soil feels dry, your chili pepper plants require water.

Step 8

Mulch to retain moisture and control weeds. According to the University of Minnesota Extension, brown plastic has been shown to be more effective than clear or black plastic in increasing the yield of peppers.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden tiller
  • Compost/manure
  • Garden spade
  • 5-10-10 fertilizer
  • Mulch


  • University of Illinois Extension: Peppers
  • University of Minnesota Extension: Peppers

Who Can Help

  • Pacific Northwest Extension: Salsa Recipes for Canning
Keywords: grow chili peppers, plant chili peppers, transplant chili peppers

About this Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with 4 years experience in online writing and a lifetime of personal journals. She is published on various sites, including Associated Content. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.