The Q&A Archives: Fertilizing Hot Peppers

Question: I have been told that you should not fertilize hot peppers. Is this true? If not, when, how often and with what should they be fertilized?

Answer: Peppers grow quite easily and many of them can tolerate abuse because they are indigenous to hot, arid climates. Fertilizing needs will depend on the condition of your soil. If you have fertile, healthy soil, you may not need any mid-season fertilizer. Continue to incorporate plenty of organic material, such as compost, to your planting beds a couple weeks before every planting season to improve your soil. Because peppers are a flowering, fruiting plant, they need phosphorous. (Phosphorous is the middle number of the NPK (Nitrogen-Phosphorous-Potassium) listed on fertilizer bags.) Since phosphorous doesn't move as readily through the soil as does nitrogen, it's a good idea to mix a small amount (follow package instructions) into the hole before transplanting your peppers. Use a balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, or one that has a higher middle number. Bone meal is an organic source of phosphorous. Good luck with your peppers!

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