Should I Prune Pepper Plants?


Peppers are diverse vegetables that many gardeners enjoy growing and harvesting throughout the summer and fall. Bell peppers, jalapenos and banana peppers are of the more common types grown. Pepper plants are self-pollinating and require warm air and a daily watering to produce their fruit. Pruning of the pepper plant is not always practiced, yet it may hold benefits many gardeners are unaware of.

Removing first blooms

According to the horticulture department at Texas A & M University, pruning back certain parts of any given pepper plant may help yield additional fruit on the year. In early spring, as the first set of blooms arrive on your plant, it is wise to remove those initial blossoms. A pepper plant will produce blooms while it is still youthful and small in stature. To increase the overall size of the plant, pick the blooms off the plant before they are allowed to grow into fruit. When a plant spends its energy on producing and growing fruit, it is unable to expand as quickly as it would otherwise. By removing the blossoms or even the buds when they first appear, the plant can grow larger and possibly produce more fruit. However, Texas A & M University explains good-care conditions will, in theory, yield the same amount of fruit on a pruned pepper plant in comparison to one that is not.

Pruning for plant health

Pruning back the pepper plant while it is young is often considered a way to increase sunlight exposure and air circulation. However, this may result in sun scald in hot and humid climates such as in the southern United States. Pruning back the pepper plant in late fall to create additional fruits for the season is under the same presumption. As Texas A & M describes, adding an extra layer of fertilizer and pruning back the plant in the fall may increase the fruit yield up until the first frost, when the plant dies out. Pepper plants are also susceptible to various diseases, including blossom-end rot and cracking, according to the University of Florida. When these problems arise, it is best to remove the fruit and discard it to preserve the energy of the plant. Peppers with cracks in their skin or discoloration/spots should be cut from the stem with about 1/2 inch of stem left on the fruit. Blossom-end rot should not be treated until the fruit is mature. By removing a small, youthful pepper with blossom-end rot, the plant will grow vigorously, increasing the chances of more rot by nutrient deficiency.

Keywords: pruning pepper plants, bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, banana peppers

About this Author

Elizabeth Punke began writing in 2008. Her specialties include gardening, parenting and fashion. Her work has appeared in various online publications. Punke also maintains her own blog, which is full of her short thrillers.

Article provided by eHow Home & Garden | Should I Prune Pepper Plants?