Pepper plants are easy to grow in most temperate regions of the United States. They do not tolerate cold weather and must be planted once the air and soil have warmed in spring. Once established, however, peppers require only routine care and maintenance to thrive and produce fruit in the home garden. Care requirements are similar for all types of pepper plants, but harvesting times may vary depending on variety.
Plant container-grown pepper plants or seedlings in the garden after the soil is workable in spring and nighttime temperatures exceed 55 degrees. Choose a planting site that receives full sun and has fertile, well-drained soil. Space pepper plants 18 to 24 inches apart in rows 3 feet apart to allow plenty of room for growth.
Water pepper plants thoroughly after you plant them, and continue to water about twice per week until harvest time. Water early in the morning so the leaves dry quickly to prevent fungal diseases. Uniform soil moisture is important, but never allow the soil to become waterlogged or soggy.
Apply a 2-inch layer of mulch to the soil surrounding pepper plants to conserve moisture and suppress the growth of weeds. Apply the mulch layer about one week after you plant for the best results. Replenish the layer as necessary throughout the growing season to keep it about 2 inches thick.
Apply a side-dressing of granular 12-12-12 fertilizer after the pepper plants begin to fruit at the rate recommended on the package. Spread the fertilizer in a line 3 inches from the base of the plants to prevent root injury. Use a garden hoe to work the fertilizer into the soil, and then water thoroughly to distribute the nutrients to the roots.
Harvest peppers at any time, but keep in mind that immature peppers may not be as flavorful as those allowed to reach full maturity. Research your specific variety to determine the appearance of fully mature fruit for the best results. Use pruning shears to snip the pepper from the stem and store the peppers in a cool, moist place for up to two weeks.