Pepper Culture

From SESE here.

  • Sow seeds 8-10 weeks before planting out after last frost.
  • Plant seeds 1/4 in. deep in well-drained soil in shallow flats. Maintain soil temperature at least 75-85 degrees F for good germination. Peppers won’t germinate in cold potting soil–heat makes a big difference in seeds germinating in 5 days, or seeds taking up to 20 days! Don’t overwater seeds or they may rot.
  • Transplant to 3 in. pots as soon as several leaves have developed. Maintain day temperature 75-80 degrees F, and night temperature at least 65 degrees F. Water plants with warm water.
  • Transplant again to larger pots if the seedlings become too large. Peppers need to have an uncrowded root system or subsequent yields will be reduced.
  • Harden the plants by giving them plenty of light and setting them outside for a few hours on warm days. Be careful not to let the plants wilt. Don’t rush the season: a good rule of thumb is to transfer peppers to the garden when average soil temperature is 65 degrees F or above (usually a month after last frost).
  • Space plants 18-24 in. apart in rows or blocks. Wait a month to mulch peppers so that the soil can heat up. Small-fruited varieties tolerate hot humid conditions better than large-fruited varieties.
  • Once flowering begins, fertilizer should be withheld; otherwise, flowers may drop without setting fruit. Other factors causing flower drop:
    • are low humidity (sometimes caused by wide spacing),
    • poor pollination,
    • full fruit set, or
    • night temperatures above 80 degrees F or below 65 degrees F.
  • Maintain high levels of phosphorus for sustained yields.
  • Once fruit production begins, short stakes or small tomato cages may be necessary to prevent large-fruited varieties from falling over.

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