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How to Fertilize Pepper Plants

colorful peppers image by MAXFX from

Peppers are warm-season vegetable crops that benefit from light fertilizer applications throughout the growing season. Whether you are growing sweet Bell Peppers or scorching hot Scotch Bonnets, all peppers grow well in nutrient rich but always free draining soil as they abhor wet feet and can quickly succumb to mildew and rot. Always apply fertilizer to the plants as a side-dressing at the root area and never over the head of the plants.

Make the first application of fertilizer to your pepper plants in the late spring or early summer after bloom and when the spent flower heads start to swell to begin forming tiny peppers.

Cast a complete granular fertilizer formula for edible vegetables and fruits like a 5-10-10 or an 8-16-16 alongside the rows of pepper plants. Distribute the label recommended dose onto the surface of the soil keeping the fertilizer at least 6 inches from the main plant stems to prevent burn. Nestle the fertilizer gently into the top inch or so of soil with your hand or a trowel.

Water well at the soil line under the plants, not overhead, until the fertilizer and surrounding soil is saturated to a depth of at least 5 inches. Keep the soil evenly moist and do not allow it to dry out, which will stress and wilt the plants and prevent the distribution of fertilizer nutrients throughout the soil.

Repeat the application of fertilizer once per month during your growing season which in warm climates can be well into late fall and even early winter. If using a slow-release fertilizer fewer applications will be required, so follow the product label recommendation for dosing and timing.

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