Jalapeno season is here once more, and what better way to grow your jalapenos than in pots? You can grow all sorts of jalapenos, such as lemon spice, traditional green jalapenos and even Farmer’s jalapenos!
You will likely be pleased to learn that it’s super simple to grow jalapenos at home - arguably, they are the easiest plant to grow! Today, we’re going to show you all the things that you need to know about how to grow jalapenos in pots so that you can maximize your harvest.
Of course, it’s important to note that this is specifically a guide for growing your jalapenos in pots and other containers, not in the ground. It’s also based on the assumption that you are growing the jalapenos from scratch, starting with planting the seeds during the late winter months. You can skip ahead if you’re buying a plant rather than the seeds.
Buying the Seeds and Gear
Jalapeno plants don’t come from nowhere, you know! They will all start off as just a little seed. Or sometimes you may get a whole packet of seeds so your whole garden can be overrun with jalapenos!
It’s pretty simple to find the seeds for jalapeno plants - just visit your local plant nursery or any Home Depot and you’re ready to go.
You can also get more varieties of jalapeno plants online though, all with varying levels of heat, so you should certainly check online if you want to mix it up.
In fact, we’ve bought a wide range of seeds from a large number of retailers online. Sites like RareSeeds are especially good, since they sell a variety of jalapeno seeds. For instance, they even sell pumpkin spice jalapeno seeds, lemon spice, and orange spice. Neat, huh?
They seem to have new types of jalapeno seeds on a regular basis, so it’s certainly worth checking them out. They aren’t super expensive either, and you’ll get delicious jalapenos!
How to Plant the Jalapeno Seeds
It’s actually rather simple to plant jalapeno seeds. There are a couple of things that you need to keep in mind before you try to plant the seeds, however. Primarily, you need to know when you should be planting them, and what sort of environment you should be planting them in.
What’s The Best Time To Plant Jalapenos?
If you’re growing your jalapenos in the Northern Hemisphere, you will usually have to plant the seeds roughly 2 to 2.5 months before the last possible chance of frost in your region. If you do this then the plants will have the best possible chance of reaching maturity and giving you the best possible yield before the growing season is over.
You can look at online tools and enter the zip code of your home to see when would be best to plant the seeds based on your specific region.
Let’s say that you live in the Northeast US. In this case, you should be okay if you plant the seeds in the first few weeks of March. In fact, you can probably plant them a little later if your jalapeno variety grows quickly.
How Do I plant Jalapeno Seeds?
You shouldn’t have much of an issue with getting the jalapeno peppers to germinate. There are some kinds of pepper that are going to require specific forms of germination, but this is not the case with a jalapeno.
Here’s what to do. First of all, get the seed trays that you are using and fill them up with some pre-moistened seed starter soil. Once you have done this, you should then plant around 2 to 3 seeds in every cell. It doesn’t need to be much deeper than roughly 0.5 centimeters, and only a little bit of soil needs to go into it. You then need to water the seeds when you have planted them.
There are a couple of things that you can do to ensure that the plant has the optimum chance of germinating.
First of all, make sure that the soil remains humid and moist. You can actually get some seed trays that come with humidity domes that are designed to stop the soil from drying out at an excessive rate. Make sure that you’re spraying the tray once a day at least. It can be handy to fan it out too.
In addition to this, you should ensure that you keep the soil warm. If you want the pepper seeds to germinate properly, they should be around 80 degrees fahrenheit. You can use things like seed heating mats if your home is especially cold.
How Long Will It Take for Jalapenos to Germinate?
In general, jalapenos tend to sprout after roughly 4 to 7 days. Of course, this can depend on how old the seeds are and what sorts of conditions they are in when you are germinating them.
Make sure that you are allowing lots of light to touch the plants when they start to sprout. A little sunny window isn’t necessarily going to cut it. Allow the seedlings to have around 12 to 16 hours of light every day once they have started to sprout.
What Soil Should I Use for Jalapenos?
It can sometimes be challenging to buy the right soil for jalapenos. After all, there are a bunch of different kinds of soil out there, and every one of them will market themselves as the best type of soil for your plants.
In reality, your best type of soil will be one that is sandy and loamy, containing a lot of organic matter. You’re probably going to need to invest in some high quality compost if you want to give your jalapenos the best environment possible.
It’s worth noting though that you may not have the sort of space required for a compost bin if you are trying to grow the jalapenos in pots. If this is the case, then all you need is to use a nutrient rich potting mix instead.
You can use something like Miracle Gro for this. Just make sure that you’re buying your soil from a reliable source, as they will have the best storage conditions. It’s best to avoid soil that’s full of things like mold spores or insect eggs.
How To Water and Fertilize Jalapenos
Eventually, your jalapeno plants will begin to sprout. When this happens, it is essential that they are given plenty of water and fertilizer full of nutrients in order for them to thrive. You don’t need to give a young jalapeno plant as many nutrients as an adult plant would need though, so don’t put too much fertilizer on the plant.
In addition to this, if you are growing the plants in pots then you’re not going to need to have as much fertilizer as you would apply if you were planting the jalapeno plants right into the ground instead.
During the first couple of weeks that the plant is alive, you should be giving it roughly ½ strength fertilizer. Alternatively, you can just do it until you move the jalapenos out of the seedling cells.
What Kind Of Fertilizer is Best for Jalapeno Plants?
There are a few fertilizers that are great for jalapeno plants, so it can often be difficult to choose which one exactly is going to be the best for your plants. Choosing the right fertilizer can be challenging but there are two main kinds of fertilizers that work well for jalapeno plants.
This is a pretty simple fertilizer that really does pack a punch. You will get three lots of fertilizer with the price, and every bottle is used for a different part of the plant’s growth span. For instance, when your plant is just a little one, you should use the ‘Grow Big’ fertilizer. As the plant begins to mature you can then switch over to the ‘Big Bloom’ fertilizer instead. The last stage requires you to use the ‘Tiger Bloom’ formula, and you can use this until the plant is ready for harvest.
If you want the most versatile fertilizer for your jalapeno plants, then the Fox Farm Trio is your best choice.
If your jalapeno plant is in its earliest stages of growth, it is best that you get the Miracle Gro Organics fertilizer. This fertilizer contains high amounts of nitrogen for your plant, meaning that you can expect a big leafy plant as it grows.
Of course, it’s not necessarily the best choice if you are in the later stages of growth and the plant has begun to make flowers. When this time comes, it’s best to change to a fertilizer that has lower nitrogen levels. Alternatively, you can just feed the plant a little less fertilizer.
Of course, you can get a wide range of other options on the market, but most people find that water soluble options are the best since they provide more assurance that your jalapeno plant is getting all of the nutrients that it needs in order to grow at a good rate.
How To Water Jalapeno Plants
What’s the most common mistake that newbie jalapeno growers make? That’s right - they over water their plants. Look, we know that you want your plant to have a lot of love, but sometimes you can give it so much love that you smother it. You certainly don’t want to do it.
There are a couple of key guidelines that you should be following when you are trying to water the peppers.
First of all, you should give the plants the chance to dry out in between feeding sessions. It’s very important that the first inch of the soil is dry enough before you try to put more water into it. A pepper needs to have a drier environment than a lot of other plants. If you’re confused about how much water your plants need, you should get a water meter online in order to help you out.
In addition to this, you should try to refrain from watering in the middle of the day, since the plant is more likely to get leaf burn at this time of day. Instead, you should be trying to water the plants either in the evening or first thing in the morning.
When you are trying to water the plants, it’s also vital that you water straight into the bottom of the plant. Don’t scatter water all over the plant’s leaves, as this can often result in the sun burning the leaves.
Why is this? Well, the beads of water can refract under the light of the sun. This means that all of the heat is directed towards one singular point on the plant. This can seriously damage the leaves.
You should be watering your plant based on its individual needs too. You will find that a lot of websites will tell you to water your plants every certain number of days, but this is not a hard and fast rule.
For instance, if the weather is incredibly hot then you are going to need to give the jalapeno a lot more water. Learn to understand your plant’s needs, as this will help you to know when it needs to be watered.
How to Transplant Jalapeno Plants
So it’s been around 2 to 3 weeks and your little jalapeno plants are now getting pretty big! At this point, you’re going to need to give your jalapeno plants a new container, since they’re probably getting a little too big for those pots.
You can put them right into the final pot you want to put them in, but it’s usually better to start off by just putting them into pots that are marginally bigger than the original pots.
It’s definitely worth trying to read the book ‘The Field Guide to Peppers’ by Dave DeWitt. In this book, it is explained that your plants will grow significantly faster if they are moved into pots that are the right size for the current level of growth. The science on this isn’t something we’re strictly familiar with, but we can tell you from experience that it’s definitely true!
You should transport the plants out of the seedling trays and into pots that are measuring roughly 3 to 4 inches, and these pots should contain some fresh soil that has already been pre-moistened. They will be living in these pots for quite some time until they need to be moved into their third and final container, so you need to make them comfortable!
The next big thing that you need to do is prune your jalapeno peppers when they reach around 6 to 8 weeks of age. All you need to do is cut away small sections of the plant when you are pruning. This will help the net growth to start developing.
Ultimately, when you are pruning you are helping to make the plant a lot more sturdy and lower. Some people say that plants that are pruned tend to produce a lot more flowers, and thus will give you a more bountiful harvest. Of course, you don’t actually have to prune your jalapeno plants, but it can certainly help in order to ensure that your plants are even healthier.
How to Choose A Container for the Jalapenos
As your plants are in the process of growing, you can spend a little bit of time trying to figure out what container you want to put them in. Now, this is a highly personal decision, but there are a couple of things that are worth keeping in mind while you choose your container.
The biggest question you need to ask yourself is how much space you are going to be able to dedicate to the jalapeno plants.
The container size that works best for your plant will depend on the variety of pepper that you are growing. In general though, if you are growing larger peppers then you are going to need to get a bigger pot in turn.
What’s the Best Size of Container for Jalapenos?
Technically, a jalapeno is a mid-sized pepper. As such, you should buy a medium sized pot. Nothing too big, nothing too small. This is usually a pot measuring around 4 to 5 gallons if you want to get the best possible harvest in return. If you get a pot that’s smaller than this then you may not get the level of productivity that you are looking for from your jalapeno plant.
Naturally, you can plant peppers in pots with over a 10 gallon capacity. Sure, this is a good choice if it is your intention to overwinter the plant. If you don’t intend to do this and you will be tossing them after the jalapeno season is over, however, you don’t really need anything larger than 5 gallons.
Problems With Your Jalapeno Pepper Plant
So now your plants are all settled in their third and final pots. Unfortunately, there may still be some troubleshooting to do if your plants aren’t cooperating the way that you would like. Here are just a few of the things you should keep an eye out for as the plant is in the process of developing and maturing.
Curling leaves are a big problem with pepper plants, but it’s usually fairly simple to solve. Your plant will usually look like it’s developing okay in this case but those distorted leaves don’t look good.
There are a number of different reasons why your plant’s leaves may start to curl. Perhaps it’s because they have been exposed to excessive amounts of light. Maybe they have been watered too much, or they could even have a calcium deficiency. These issues are all fairly simple to fix, thankfully.
You may also begin to notice that the leaves are starting to turn yellow. There’s no need to worry if this happens, as this is another common problem.
You may need to be more concerned if this issue starts spreading across the plant. In this case, you should dig deeper and see why they are turning yellow so you can deal with the issue. We’ve written an article on this subject to help you out!
Insects and Garden Pests
Sometimes pests can cause some real issues for your jalapeno plants. For instance, aphids really like to sap the leaves on your jalapeno plants. These nasty little critters can multiply at an alarming rate. Even more concerning is the fact that it can often be difficult to identify them, meaning that it can be hard to control the problem.
It’s best to prevent insect problems straight away. For instance, spraying neem oil, castile soap and water onto the leaves can help to repel those nasty garden pests. Another option is to put some sticky paper around the plant as this will help to trap the pests. You can also introduce useful insects like ladybugs though, but this may be more challenging for you to do.
Fungus and Bacteria
Keep an eye out for black or brown spots scattered across the leaves of your jalapeno plant - it may be a sign that the plant has a bacterial infection. It’s worth comparing the leaves to see if this is definitely the case since you may need to toss the plant out if it is a bacterial infection.
Now you’re done with growing the jalapeno plants and it’s ready to harvest them! We’ve written an article explaining how you can harvest your jalapeno plants on our website, so be sure to check that out. You can also keep the seeds for future harvests. Growing jalapenos in pots can be super handy and easy to do, so it’s certainly worth giving it a try!