Bell peppers, also known as capsicums, are a delight to grow in the home vegetable garden.
Traditionally grown in outdoor garden beds, did you know bell peppers can also thrive when grown in pots?
With the right conditions, you can successfully grow these tasty peppers on your patio, balcony, or doorstep all season long.
In this guide, I’ll tell you exactly how to grow bountiful bell peppers in containers.
Choosing The Right Pot
When selecting a pot for growing peppers, bigger is always better. Look for a container that is at least 12-14 inches wide and deep, but larger pots up to 25 inches across can allow even bigger pepper harvests.
The extra room means you can fill the pot with more soil to anchor the plant and provide more nutrients.
Make sure the pot you choose has several drainage holes in the bottom to prevent waterlogged soil, which peppers hate.
For best results, use a high-quality potting mix instead of regular garden soil, which can become compacted over time.
To improve drainage, amend the regular potting mix with added perlite or vermiculite.
Starting Seeds And Potting Up
It’s important to give peppers a head start by sowing seeds indoors. This gives them time to establish before being moved outdoors.
Start seeds 8-10 weeks before your last expected spring frost date. Sow 2-3 seeds in small starter pots or cells filled with seed starting mix.
Keep warm and moist until germination, which takes 7-14 days. Thin down to one strong seedling per pot after sprouting.
Let the peppers grow for 3-4 weeks until the first true leaves appear. Now it’s time to repot into larger containers.
Move up to 4-inch, 1-pint, or 1-quart pots, depending on the current size of the plant.
Then, on transplant day, fill the final pot about three-quarters full with moistened soil mix. Create a hole and carefully remove the young pepper plant, keeping the root ball intact. Place it in the pot and fill around with additional mix.
Set the plant a little lower than it was growing previously and gently firm the soil. Give the plant a thorough watering until it drains from the bottom to settle the roots.
Further reading: Growing your own peppers from store-bought ones.
Location And Support
Peppers need at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily to produce well.
To maximize light exposure, pick a spot against a sunny wall or railing where the pepper plants are protected from wind, which can damage them.
Also, consider adding stakes or cages when planting to provide extra physical support once fruits develop. The staking helps keep plants upright and prevents breaking.
As the peppers grow, gently tie the main stems to the stakes using soft plant ties, taking care not to damage delicate stems and leaves.
Consistent soil moisture is key for potted peppers. Check pots daily and water whenever the top inch of soil becomes dry. To check, stick your finger into the soil to feel.
Avoid overwatering, which can lead to root rot.
Adding 2-3 inches of mulch like straw or compost around plants helps retain moisture, so watering is less frequent.
Always avoid wetting the leaves when watering, as this can promote fungal diseases.
Feeding And Fertilising
Peppers are heavy feeders and need consistent nutrients from transplant through harvest.
Feed container pepper plants every 2-3 weeks with a balanced liquid fertiliser mixed according to label instructions.
For slow-release feeding, you can also add time-release pellet fertiliser to the soil at planting time. This provides a steady supply of nutrients over many weeks. Fast-acting liquid feeds are ideal for giving plants an extra boost during fruiting and harvest.
Caring For Plants
Potted peppers thrive in consistently warm weather, around 70-80°F once established.
In really hot climates, partial shade in peak afternoon sun may be beneficial. Move pots to their sunny outdoor spot after day and night temperatures stay above 50°F.
Provide extra warmth early and late in the season by moving pots to a sheltered location or indoors at night if frost threatens.
Likewise, small cloches or horticultural fleece can give added frost protection.
Inspect plants frequently from top to bottom for common pests like aphids, spider mites, or pepper maggots. Treat any pests promptly and organically with insecticidal soap or neem oil before they can spread.
Also, check for diseases like blights, mildew, and bacterial spots. Remove any spent or damaged growth to keep plants healthy and productive.
Maximizing Your Harvest
Bell peppers mature 60-90 days from transplanting, but you can test readiness earlier by gently squeezing fruits. When ready to pick, peppers should feel firm and full.
Use a sharp knife or pruner to cut (don’t pull) the pepper from the vine to avoid damaging plants. Harvest frequently because the more you pick, the more the plant produces.
Leave any damaged or colour-changing peppers on plants to ripen fully.
While yields from container plants are smaller, you can grow a mix of different coloured peppers in an arrangement for a pretty and productive container garden.
Keep freshly picked peppers refrigerated and try to use them within 5-7 days for the best flavor and quality. At the end of the season, pull spent plants after harvest ends and add them to the compost pile.
Key Tips For Success
Follow these tips to get the most out of growing peppers in containers:
- Use the largest pot size possible, at least 12″ wide and deep
- Amend soil with perlite or vermiculite to improve drainage
- Start seeds indoors for a head start on the growing season
- Place containers in the sunniest, warmest, and most sheltered spot available
- Stake or cage plants for support and use soft ties as needed
- Maintain consistent soil moisture through daily watering as needed
- Feed plants biweekly with a balanced liquid fertiliser
- Monitor closely for pests and treat them promptly if found
- Harvest peppers frequently to encourage more production
- Remove spent plants in fall and start fresh with new pots next year
Growing your own bell peppers in pots is easy and rewarding with proper care. Pay close attention to their needs, and you’ll be rewarded with a bountiful container crop. Homegrown peppers fresh from the pot taste so much sweeter than store-bought!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, peppers can grow very well in pots as long as the containers are large enough (at least 12″ wide and deep) and they are given adequate sunlight, water, drainage, and nutrients.
Bell peppers generally grow better and produce higher yields when planted directly in the ground garden, but potted peppers can still thrive with proper care.
Bell peppers typically take 60-90 days to mature when grown in pots, measured from the time seedlings are transplanted into their final containers.
With the right conditions, it’s simple for even beginners to cultivate bell peppers on a balcony, patio, or front steps in containers.
Although yields are lower than garden planting, you can produce fresh peppers on your deck, balcony, or any outdoor space with minimal effort.
Follow these guidelines for choosing an appropriate pot, starting seeds, caring for the plant, and maximizing harvests.
A bit of maintenance like staking, watering, and fertilizing goes a long way in helping potted pepper plants thrive all season long.
Get growing this year and enjoy picking summer’s bounty of colorful, flavorful peppers.
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