Growing peppers: The 5 most common mistakes

Green pepper
Green pepper

Whether yellow or red, elongated or roundish, mild or hot: peppers impress with an enormous variety. Peppers, hot peppers and chili peppers originated in Central and South America. To ensure that the heat-loving vegetable from the Solanaceae family also thrives in temperate climate, the following mistakes should be avoided.

Choose a sowing date that is too late

If you want to harvest plenty of peppers in summer, you should start growing them early in the year. If you wait too long to seed peppers, the fruits will ripen late and yields will be correspondingly low. A guideline for sowing is eight to ten weeks before the last frosts. In many regions, these can be expected in mid-May. The seeds should therefore be planted between mid-February and mid-March. The mini-greenhouse or seed tray should be placed in a very bright location, ideally in a conservatory, heated greenhouse or large south-facing window.

Not enough soil heat

In addition to light, heat also plays a crucial role in germination. If the temperatures are too low, bell pepper seeds germinate poorly or fungi quickly develop in the substrate. Therefore, regularly check the soil temperature: for peppers, it should be 25 to 28 °C / 77 to 82 °F. Also make sure there is sufficient moisture and good ventilation. Even after pricking out, which is done about three to four weeks after sowing, continue to cultivate the plantlets at 20 to 22 °C / 68 to 72 °F.

A young pepper plant
A young pepper plant

Not using a good sowing soil

Another mistake when growing is choosing the wrong substrate. The seedlings do not yet have good defenses and are very susceptible to rot. Therefore, use permeable sowing soil of high quality: it allows easy rooting and is largely germ-free, i.e. free of pests and fungal spores. Even if you make potting soil yourself, the mixture should be sterilized in the oven before use. If, by the way, even after pricking out, it turns out that the plantlets have only a weak root system, they are placed again in nutrient-poor growing soil. If they have developed strong roots, they can move to more substantial soil.

Wrong location

In very warm regions such as wine-growing areas and in a sheltered spot, peppers actually grow well planted out in the garden. In cooler regions, however, growing them outdoors is not recommended. If temperatures are below 15 °C / 59 °F for a prolonged period, most bell pepper plants will slow their growth, resulting in lower fruit yields and quality. The required humidity should also not be underestimated: If the temperatures are high, but the humidity is below 60 percent, the plants will drop flowers and fruits. It is therefore advisable to grow them in a greenhouse. Alternatively, a cultivation in tubs in a sheltered, warm place on the balcony or terrace is also possible.

Watering too little in summer

Similar to cucumbers, peppers also need a lot of liquid to grow. If you neglect watering, the plants will not thrive optimally and the fruits will remain small. During the summer months, you usually have to reach for the watering can every day in the greenhouse and when growing in pots. To reduce evaporation, the soil in the greenhouse can be mulched with lawn clippings. As soon as the plants start to bear fruit, you can additionally strengthen the strong growers with plant soaks.

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