Jalapenos lend themselves perfectly to growing in pots. This makes them ideal for gardeners who have limited space in the garden or those who only have a small balcony or patio.
Another benefit of growing your jalapenos in pots is that you can move them around easily to follow the sun. These plants are sun-lovers in most climates. However, in very hot climates, they do prefer some shelter from the blazing midday and afternoon sun. You can even grow these plants indoors, but you’ll need a grow light to ensure that they get enough light and heat.
Here’s a step-by-step guide for growing jalapenos in pots.
1. Start from Seed or Transplant
Whether you start your jalapenos from seed or you purchase a seedling or two from your local garden center is entirely up to you. Bear in mind that plants grown from seed will take a little longer to bear fruit, while purchased seedlings will fruit a little earlier.
2. Select a Suitable Pot
The next step is to select a suitable pot for your jalapeno plants. Ideally, you want one pot per plant, so if you want to grow a few different varieties, you’ll have to gather several pots.
Because these plants can get quite large, a 5-gallon (19-liter) pot is best. This will give the roots of the plants plenty of room to grow. In turn, the plants will grow larger and have the ability to yield more fruit.
However, if you’re short on space or want to try growing jalapenos indoors, it’s fine to use a 2-gallon (7.5-liter) pot. Just remember that a smaller pot will result in a smaller plant and less fruit.
The next important thing to remember is that the pot or pots should have good drainage holes. This means that your plants won’t be growing in soggy soils because the excess water can drain away freely. Jalapeno roots don’t like sitting in water as it reduces their ability to breathe.
What type of pot you choose is entirely up to you and depends on where your jalapenos will be growing. If you’re growing outdoors, terracotta pots are ideal because they’re porous, so they allow water to drain away freely. However, these will also require more frequent watering.
If you plan to grow your jalapenos indoors, plastic or ceramic pots might be more suitable. You could even consider using grow bags. However, these are better suited to outdoor growing as they tend to lose water from the base of the bag.
3. Choose a Great Quality Potting Mix
For healthy and strong growth, you want to use a high-quality potting mix that is free-draining. There are many commercial mixes that are ideal for this. Select one that is designed specifically for vegetables, as this will already have some valuable nutrients added.
You can even make your own potting mix if you have a handy supply of matured compost. Make sure that you add some sand, perlite, or composted wood chips to the mix to increase the drainage.
4. Plant your Seeds or Transplants
Once you’ve gathered the necessary materials and have filled your pots with good-quality potting mix, it’s time to plant your seeds or seedlings. Here’s what to do.
If you’ve chosen to start your jalapenos from seeds, these seeds should be planted around 8 weeks before the last frost is expected in your area. Seeds can be planted either in small pots or seedling trays, whichever is more convenient for you.
In colder climates, you want to sow your seeds indoors as they won’t be ready to go outside until temperatures are above 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius). Remember that jalapenos are summer-growing plants and really need the warmth. If they’re exposed to too much cold weather, it will stunt their growth, and you won’t get the results that you’re hoping for.
After around 6 to 8 weeks, your seedlings should be large enough to go into the large pots that you’ve already prepared. Remember that you don’t want to put them outside until the danger of frost is over and the nighttime temperatures won’t drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius).
If growing from seed, you should expect to be able to harvest your first jalapenos in about 3 months from the time of germination. Germinating of the seeds can take anywhere from a few days to around 2 weeks.
Tips for Seed Sowing to Achieve Optimum Results
- Use a seed-raising mix to fill small pots or seedling trays.
- Plant 2 or 3 seeds in each pot or each cell of the tray.
- They should be planted no deeper than 1/4 inch (0.5 cm). The seeds are quite small and will run out of energy to break through the surface of the mix if they’re planted too deeply.
- Make sure you water the mix after sowing the seeds, taking care not to dislodge them.
- Ensure the mix is kept nice and moist for optimum germination. You can use a spray bottle filled with water to achieve this easily.
- The soil should be kept quite warm to encourage germination. The best germination temperature is around 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius). If your house is not warm enough, you can place a heat mat under the pots or trays to ensure that the mix stays warm enough.
- Once the seeds have germinated, place them under a grow light for around 12 to 16 hours per day.
Whether you’ve grown your own seedlings or you’ve purchased them from your local garden center, these can be planted into your prepared pots once they’re 6 to 8 inches tall. They should reach this height in about 7 to 8 weeks if they’ve been grown from seed.
This means that if you’ve used seedling trays to start your seeds, you may have to put them into 3 or 4-inch (7.5 cm or 10 cm) pots first to allow them to grow to the ideal size for transplanting into the larger pots. Experienced gardeners have found that this produces better results than planting the small seedlings straight into the larger pots.
If your seedlings have been growing in a warm room or you have them sitting on a heat mat, start hardening them off after about 7 weeks by reducing the temperature to around 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius).
Seedlings that you’ve purchased from your local garden center should not require hardening off unless they’ve been kept in a hot house before you brought them home.
When transplanting your jalapenos into their final pots, make sure that you plant each one into its own pot. Remember that the roots will require an ample amount of space to grow if you want to achieve the maximum harvest from your plants.
Don’t forget to water your plants well after you’ve planted them into the pots.
5. Choose the Ideal Spot for your Potted Jalapenos
If you plan to grow your jalapenos outdoors, you want to choose a nice sunny spot. However, if you live in a hot climate, it’s best to give your plants some afternoon shade. One of the best spots for this is along an east-facing wall or fence. This will get the morning sun but receive some shade from the searing afternoon sun.
For apartment dwellers, you’re in luck if you have a south-facing balcony, as this is ideal for growing lots of delicious jalapenos. Those with a west-facing or east-facing balcony should still have good success, though.
However, if you only have a north-facing balcony, you might find that your plants will just not get enough sunlight to give you an optimum harvest. You should still get some fruit but not as many as people who grow them in more optimum conditions.
This brings us to growing jalapenos indoors. If you want your plants to produce fruit, you’re going to have to place them under a grow light. Even a south-facing window will not provide enough light to encourage the plants to fruit.
Choose a grow light with full-spectrum LEDs to get the absolute best results from your plants. These lights are usually relatively inexpensive, and the LEDs are more energy-efficient too.
Keep the light around 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) above the top of the plant so that the leaves don’t get burned. The light should be turned on for around 10 to 18 hours every day.
6. Fertilize your Jalapenos
Jalapenos are quite heavy feeders during their growth stage and as they start producing flowers and fruit. If you’ve used a commercial potting mix, the nutrients in the mix should last for around a month.
After that, you should feed your plants every 1 to 2 weeks with a good-quality liquid fertilizer. You can do this as part of your regular watering.
Once you start to see some buds appearing, it’s time to switch to a fertilizer that’s higher in potassium and phosphorus and lower in nitrogen. This is because the nitrogen helps to promote green growth while the potassium and phosphorus will encourage the plant to start fruiting.
Alternatively, you can use a slow-release fertilizer that is designed for fruiting plants. Any fertilizer suitable for tomatoes is also suitable for using on jalapeno peppers.
7. Keep tour Jalapenos Watered Just Right
It’s important to understand that jalapenos are used to warm and fairly dry summers. This means that you shouldn’t overwater your plants but give them just the right amount when they need it.
Here’s what you need to know about watering jalapenos:
- Check the soil before watering. The top inch or two of the soil needs to be completely dry before you water your plants. You can test this either by pushing your finger into the soil or using a chopstick or popsicle stick. Alternatively, you can use a moisture meter.
- Apply water either early in the morning or in the evening if you’re using a hose with a spray nozzle or a watering can with a rose. However, if you use a watering can with a long, thin spout, just direct the water at the soil and avoid getting the leaves wet. This will stop the leaves from getting burned if the sun hits them while they’re wet.
- Remember that on hot days the soil will dry out much quicker than on days that are overcast or a bit cooler. Therefore, it’s impossible to dictate a regular watering schedule for jalapenos grown in a pot. You just have to keep checking the soil to determine when your plant needs a drink.
8. Watch Out for Common Problems
Although jalapenos are fairly hardy plants and don’t have too many problems in general, there are a few things you should look out for.
Aphids are sap-sucking insects that will feed on the sap in the leaves, stems, and buds. If you spot some on your plants, sometimes just a quick spray with the hose should dislodge them. However, you can also control these pests by spraying them with a solution of neem oil or insecticidal soap and water.
If you notice that the leaves on your jalapeno plant are curling, there could be a number of reasons.
- Your plant is being overwatered. The leaves may also start yellowing if the plant is overwatered. To remedy this, allow the top inch or two of soil to dry out before you give the plant a drink.
- The plant is receiving too much light. This is normally not a problem for plants grown outdoors. However, it can be an issue for those that are grown under grow lights. It usually means that the light is too close to the plant, and the leaves are curling from the heat. To remedy this, raise the height of your light and make sure that it’s on a timer so that it’s only on for 12 to 18 hours per day.
- Your plant has an infestation of insects such as aphids, spider mites, or thrips. To remedy this, spray your plant with neem oil or insecticidal soap.
As you can see, jalapenos are ideal for growing in pots either outdoors or by using a grow light to grow them indoors. These plants are relatively easy to grow, especially if you follow our step-by-step instructions.