Indoor Pepper Care: Growing Hot Pepper Plants Inside
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By: Becca Badgett, Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden
Are you looking for an unusualhouseplant for your country décor? Maybe something for the kitchen, or even apretty plant to include with an indoor herb garden tray? Consider growing hotpeppers indoors as houseplants. These are great specimens for the situationsmentioned.
Growing Hot Peppers Indoors
Foliage of ornamentalhot pepper plants is attractive, peppers are ornamental, and they growfairly well indoors. Of course, take advantage of warm, sunny days to give themthat extra boost by putting them outside for a few hours.
Ornamental pepper is possibly thebest hot pepper to grow indoors. Fruits are green, yellow, orange, and finallyred. You may use them in cooking, but they are extremely hot. If you’re lookingfor a pepper plant to use regularly, try growing the colorful cayenne‘Carnivale’ in a pot. Really, any hot pepper type will work well but stick withcompact varieties, as these adapt better to containers.
You may start seeds of peppers inclean containers or purchase seedlings or small plants to grow indoors.Transplant into a permanent container. When growing small plants or seedlings,provide 10-12 hours of sunlight per day or locate plants six inches (15 cm.) undera grow light 14 to 16 hours.
When starting from seed, you mayuse a warming mat to sprout seeds. Start seeds in a warm spot out of directsunlight and keep the soil moist. A plastic covering helps hold moisture.Increase sunlight as seedlings sprout. Proper lighting is essential to keeppepper plants from growing spindly when reaching for light.
Indoor Pepper Care
Care for hot peppers in pots willinclude turning the pots as seedlings lean toward the light. This won’t beneeded if seedlings are directly under an artificial light. Pinch the firstflowers down to the stem to encourage heavier fruit set. Only pinch the firstfew blooms so as not to interrupt the 70-day growing cycle. Flowers areperfect, meaning each one is both male and female, so they self-pollinate.
Indoor pepper care includeswatering a couple times a week. Let the soil dry out between watering. Checkdown a couple of inches (5 cm.) with your forefinger before watering to makesure the soil is dry or usea moisture meter.
Fertilization is also animportant step for the most attractive indoor pepper plant. Sources advisefertilization with fishemulsion or composttea. You may also use a houseplantfertilizer diluted to half strength.
Keep an eye out for pests. Theyare rare on pepper plants, especially those grown indoors, but occasionallyattack if they have a chance. If you see aphidshovering near new growth, use a soapy spray to get rid of them. Fungusgnats are often a sign that soil is too wet. Decrease watering to stopattracting them.
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How to Grow Chili Peppers Indoors
Last Updated: September 2, 2020 References Approved
This article was co-authored by Lauren Kurtz. Lauren Kurtz is a Naturalist and Horticultural Specialist. Lauren has worked for Aurora, Colorado managing the Water-Wise Garden at Aurora Municipal Center for the Water Conservation Department. She earned a BA in Environmental and Sustainability Studies from Western Michigan University in 2014.
There are 18 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.
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Growing your own chili peppers is a great project if you're a container gardener looking to spice things up, want to take on a new gardening challenge, or just love hot peppers and want to have your own supply. Chili peppers can be grown inside, but you shouldn’t expect your plants or your peppers to be as large as outdoor- or greenhouse-grown ones. The key to successfully growing a chili plant is to ensure it gets plenty of light, heat, moisture, and humidity.
Growing Requirements for Peppers-Indoors
Long season hot peppers are similar to other chilies and have the same growing requirements. Chilies prefer hot temperature during the day-80 to 90 F plus, and night time temperature of about 70 F. When you take chili peppers indoors, your indoor greenhouse temperature should be an optimum range of within 20 F from high to low.
- –The most important factor for growing chili peppers indoors is the “right light”. Having the right light means the grow light technology that provides the correct light spectrum. The light also needs to be adjusted at the right distance from the plant to support growth (vegetation, flowering, and seedling).
Since you will be growing the chilies indoors under grow lights that will mimic the natural light, you should give the plants time under under the light and time to rest. A 16 hours day is good to give your plants plenty of growing time with a proper amount of rest time.
- –The best grow light for your chili pepper is LED grow light. LED grow lights provide years of efficiency, high quality yield of plants, and save 50-60% on the energy bill. The LEDs have no distance issue and can be placed at any angle from the plant moreover you will not need any extra equipment for adjusting and controlling temperature. It’s easy to use with a plug and go system.
- –If you are using containers for growing your chilies indoors, you might have to transfer them to new containers-more than once. 10 to 12 inch pots should be large enough to grow small plants to the maturity phase. If the chili peppers are bigger in size than use pots accordingly, use 16 to 18 inch pots. Ensure adequate drainage of the pots with under-liner, saucer, or a tray.
Water the chilies according to their need. During the growth period the watering requirement becomes less than the start. Keep the pepper plants slightly dry to damp or moist for the suitable growth.
Your indoor peppers will mature after 10 to 12 weeks after planting and will bear fruits within a several months time. You can harvest your very own grown chili peppers as soon as they become bright green and shiny or they have turned yellow, orange, or bright red, depending on their type.
How To Start Pepper Plants Indoors
When starting seeds, they require little or no nutrition to germinate. This is because the seeds themselves contain the necessary nutrients to get started. All that a pepper seed needs to begin germination is water, oxygen and warmth.
For peppers, the best seed starting soil is something organic with good aeration. This mix on Amazon will work well, as it contains peat moss and perlite to promote healthy root structure.
Tip: It is important to use fresh seed starting mix when starting plants indoors to avoid insects and mold. Using leftover seed starter from indoors can invite these pests into your home, so beware!
Starting your seeds generally consists of the following steps. Keep in mind that the germination process is usually pretty quick for peppers, and transplanting to larger pots with nutrient-rich soil is next.
How to Start Pepper Seeds Indoors:
Starter soils have no nutrients and good aeration. We recommend something organic like this one on Amazon.
We love these built-to-last trays from Bootstrap Farmer. The trays should have a humidity dome to keep the seed mix moist during germination.
This helps with root formation and better water absorption in the future. Thoroughly mix with water until the soil is damp and sticks together when squeezed, but doesn’t drip.
Fill containers with soil, compressing lightly.
Compress until you feel resistance, and then add more soil until each cell is filled to the top.
Push a small hole 1/8-1/4 inch into the soil.
Alternatively, place the seeds on the surface and push them below the soil with a pen or pencil tip. Any deeper than 1/4 inch, and pepper seedlings may have trouble properly surfacing above the soil.
Drop 2+ seeds into each hole.
If you have limited seed quantities, just use one seed per cell. Using 2 or more seeds helps increase the odds that at least one will sprout. If you end up having multiple seeds sprout, you can simply pluck one of them.
Use a spray bottle to lightly mist and moisten the soil around the seed. This ensures enough moisture is on the seed to initiate germination.
Keep warm with a seedling heat mat.
We use this affordable heating mat from Amazon to keep our seedlings at a consistent 80°F. It comes with a probe that stays in the soil, measuring the temperature and automatically turning on and off the heating mat to reach the desired temperature. Highly recommended for the best germination rates!
Keep in a dim and warm area.
Pepper seeds typically take around 7-10 days to sprout, and before sprouting they do not require light. The ideal temperature is between 80-90°F. This will ensure that the seeds germinate as quickly as possible.
Mist as necessary, or provide water to the bottom of the trays to keep the soil moist (but never soaking wet). Once the seeds sprout, immediately move them under grow lights and remove the humidity dome.
After your seeds have sprouted, you will need to provide ample lighting. Without enough light, your plants will grow to be leggy and weak. This may translate to a tall, lanky pepper plant that may under-produce.
To give your seed starts the light they need, we highly recommend using a grow light.