When it comes to gardening, there are many different theories regarding the correct maintenance and care for certain plants. Although it isn’t necessary for the production of peppers, pruning your pepper plant can have many benefits.
The process involves cutting off any flowers that form in the first 2 to 3 weeks of planting so long as the plant is at least 31cm tall.
The slight adjustment to the shape of the plant is believed to make them more productive and as a result, the yield of the pepper plant will improve.
If you have never pruned a pepper plant before you may be looking for reasons as to why you should consider doing it.
It is also important to identify the section of the plant that you need to prune and the tools that you are going to require. Below, we have created a guide that covers each of these issues.
Why should you prune your pepper plant?
The time at which you prune your plant will determine how well it grows. When done at the right time, pruning promotes the growth of strong stems and branches, ripe fruits, and it can also reduce the risk of your plant becoming infected with a disease.
Pruning simply involves cutting certain branches and altering the shape of your plant. By removing the unwanted parts of your pepper plant it will be able to grow better.
You can top your pepper plant. The process involves cutting off the growing tip on the main part of the stem. The sections that you remove will regrow and recover fairly quickly.
As a result, you can expect your plant to appear stronger and sturdier. You are also likely to witness an improvement in the plant’s yield.
Some gardeners may choose to prune the lower section of their pepper plant to remove any leaves that are dragging in the dirt.
Also depending on where your plant is located, reshaping it can help to make it more resistant to wind.
Is pepper plant pruning necessary?
Now you may be questioning whether it is necessary to prune your pepper plant. Whilst it isn’t a necessity, it most certainly has its benefits. Adopting the right technique will result in improved growth.
There are a few different stages of growth when pruning your pepper plants may be beneficial. They typically fall in different seasons and the time of year that you prune your plant will decide on the technique that you need to use. They are as follows:
The first time that you should attempt to prune your pepper plant is after 4 to 6 weeks of growth. If your plant has been grown in an indoor environment under the projection of lights at this time, your plant should be at least 6” tall with a couple of true leaves.
These are the leaves that develop after the first lot of leaves that sprout from the seeds.
This is an ideal time to prune your plant because at this point it is likely to appear a little leggy or floppy. Cutting away part of your plant will stimulate fuller long-term growth.
You will also find that the majority of gardeners prune their plants at this stage and often this is the only time when a homegrown plant will be pruned.
Pruning the lower section of your plant is also recommended. You simply need to take your tool and cut away the plant's lower branches.
This will ensure that as the leaves grow, they travel away from the soil rather than into it. Soil can be a feeding ground for diseases that can have irreversible effects on your pepper plant.
By keeping your plant well maintained you will eliminate the risk of these diseases presenting any issues to the health of your plant. The best time to bottom prune your plant is during spring when the plant has been transferred outdoors.
However, you can then proceed to prune the bottom of your plant as and when it is required.
2-3 weeks ahead of expected frost
Cold, wintery temperatures can damage the tissue of your pepper plant and can even be fatal. At this time, it is likely that your plant is coming towards the end of its life cycle.
As mentioned, pruning your plant helps to encourage new growth, and doing it ahead of expected frost will promote the ripeness of any remaining peppers on the plant.
This is because the plant's energy will be focused on the growth of the peppers that remain. You should cut away any sections of your plant that are free of peppers.
After the first frost has passed
Pruning is essential if you want to keep your plant alive for winter. At this stage, you will notice the biggest change in the appearance of your plant as it will look very bare with only a couple of leaves remaining.
Fewer leaves are more likely to endure and survive the harsher conditions of the winter.
The best method for pruning your pepper plants
The method of pruning that we have identified below is also referred to as topping your plants. The best time to top your plants is following their initial 4 to 6 weeks of growth.
We have listed each step of the method so that you will confidently be able to prune the correct section of your plant.
Find the nodes of the plant
First, you will need to locate the nodes of the plant. The node is the part of a leaf or twig that attaches to the stem. They are also known as the growth zone.
The elongated sections between these nodes are called the internodes. They essentially refer to the section of the plant where there is an interval before the node.
The more the plant grows, the more nodes and leaves it produces. Finding the nodes of your plant will allow you to ensure that you begin to trim the leaves at the correct point.
Remove the right stems
Once you have located the nodes, you will then need to select the stems that you will be removing. Before jumping straight in and making any cuts, think of how you imagine the plant to look once these cuts have been made.
If possible, you should prune your plant just above the 3rd or even 4th node. In doing so, you will promote better growth of the lower section of your plant as it will have access to a greater amount of light.
If you are going to be keeping your plant indoors, pruning it and keeping it compact will make it easy to care for.
Select your tools and make your cuts
To prune your plants, you will require the use of sharp scissors. It is important to ensure that the scissors are very sharp because those with dull blades are likely to cause the leaves to become damaged.
Now that you have decided which section of your pepper plant you want to trim, you will then need to take your sharp scissors and make a clean cut. Continue to make these cuts until the plant has been pruned and it looks like how you envisioned it.
Do early flowers need to be picked off the plant?
This depends on how long you have currently been growing your pepper plant. If you started to grow your plant fairly early on then you may wish to pick the early flowers.
Make sure that you have allowed them sufficient time to grow rather large, otherwise, there is a risk of the young leaves of the plant getting damaged.
If you leave it too late to pick the early flowers off your plant, you may find that towards the end of the season, you do not have as many actual peppers as you were anticipating.
Is pruning required for all pepper plants?
Pruning is not required for all pepper plants, whilst it can have many benefits on the growth of your plant, it is not a necessity.
For maximum yield, it is recommended that you prune your plant during the early stages of growth.
If you decide that you do not want to prune your pepper plant, you will be pleased to know that this will not affect the overall growth of your plant but doing so can help to maintain its health.