Poblano Pepper Growth Stages (and When to Pick them?)

Poblano peppers are mild chili peppers with an elongated shape. They are normally slightly twisted and have a pointed tip. These plants need to be grown in summer because they are not cold-tolerant. In USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11, they can be grown as perennials, but in other zones, they are grown as annuals.

Here are the various growth stages.

Seed Germination

Poblano peppers can be grown from seed either started indoors or planted in the garden once the danger of frost is over. Seeds should be planted ¼ deep in moist soil.

If you’re starting your plants indoors in a seedling tray, transplant them into larger pots once the roots reach the bottom of the tray.

It should take around 6 to 12 days for the seeds to germinate. You can start them indoors around 7 to 10 weeks before the last predicted frost date. This gives the plants plenty of time to become established enough to plant outdoors.

The seeds require plenty of warmth and moisture to germinate effectively. For this reason, you may want to place them on a heat mat and cover the seedling tray with a cloche or plastic cover to keep them moist.

Once the seeds germinate, you’ll see two cotyledons or seed leaves. These will not resemble the true leaves of the plant.

If you don’t want to start your peppers from seeds, you can purchase seedlings from your local garden center.

Seedling Stage

After the cotyledons appear, you’ll soon start to see the true leaves growing to replace these seed leaves. The roots will also start getting longer. Make sure that your young plants are getting plenty of bright light at this stage. They need around 6 hours of bright light every day.

You can either put your plants on a bright windowsill or place them under a grow light. If your young seedlings don’t get enough light, they will become leggy.

Keep an eye on the roots of the young seedlings, and if you see them coming out of the bottom of the seedling tray, it’s time to transplant them into larger pots. This gives the roots plenty of room to grow and will result in stronger seedlings.

Planting your Peppers Outdoors

When your average outdoor temperatures reach 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 29 degrees Celsius), you can plant your peppers outdoors. You can either plant them straight into the garden or into large pots.

At this stage, the plants should have plenty of green growth with at least two sets of true leaves and a good strong root system. The plants should be around 5 to 6 inches (12.5 to 15 cm) tall.

Make sure you harden them off before planting them out into your garden. To do this, start by putting your plants outdoors for 1 hour the first day and then increase this time by one hour every subsequent day.

When planting numerous peppers in your garden, make sure that you give them plenty of room to spread. Once established, your plants will produce multiple branches off the main stem. As a general rule, they should be planted 1 to 2 feet (30.5 to 61 cm) apart.

The Flowering and Fruiting Stage

Once your poblano peppers are growing outdoors and have been exposed to plenty of sunshine, they will start to bloom. At this point, your plants could be around 2 feet (61 cm) tall. Each plant will have a central stem that is densely branched.

The off-white flowers will then lead to fruit production. In general, it takes around 65 to 80 days to have mature peppers from when the seeds first germinated.

Mature peppers are around 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) long. They start out being dark green and then go through a range of color changes until they eventually turn red.

When to Harvest your Poblano Peppers

Poblano peppers can first be harvested when they are around 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) long. This usually takes around 65 days from seed germination. Look out for slightly curly stems at this stage. These indicate the fruit is ready to be picked.

The peppers will also have a nice glossy sheen once they’re ready to be harvested.

If you plan to use your fresh peppers, you can pick them at the dark green stage. They will be milder at this stage as more heat develops as they change color.

Wait to Harvest Hotter Poblano Peppers

If you want poblano peppers that have a little more heat, wait until they turn red in color. At this stage, they will be fully matured and will be as hot as they’re going to get. This total color change will take around two weeks.

Additionally, if you want to dry your peppers, you should wait until they turn red.

You can easily air dry your peppers by stringing them up by their stems and hanging them in a sunny spot. Leave them to air dry until they turn brittle. These dried peppers are commonly referred to as ancho peppers and can be ground up to produce chili powder.

How to Harvest your Peppers

It’s best to use a sharp pair of secateurs or garden scissors to harvest your poblano peppers. This ensures that you don’t accidentally break any other parts of the plant by just pulling them off.

Just take the pepper in one hand and then snip the twisted stem close to the main part of the plant.

How to Store your fresh Poblano Peppers

Ideally, you want to pick your peppers as you need them. This ensures that they are nice and fresh. However, if you have a bumper harvest and want to encourage your plant to produce many more fruits, you can store any peppers that you’ve picked in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.

They should keep quite well for around 7 to 10 days. You can even store roasted peppers in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days.

If you would like to know more about storing poblano peppers, I wrote an article about that.