The Q&A Archives: Growing Hot Peppers

Question: I am growing several varieties of hot pepper plants in terra cotta pots on my full-sun deck in northern California. I think I have overwatered them because their leaves often turn yellow and fall off. Even so, it seems to me all these varieties of hot peppers are growing as spindly plants, with many fewer leaves than I would expect. Could this be due to the unusually cool summer we are having thus far? (One always hears that peppers are heat-loving plants...) Finally, I do not fertiize these plants at all - might that help?

Any advice you could give me will be much appreciated!

Answer: Peppers are warm-season plants that thrive in full sunshine and warm summer temperatures. It's important to keep pots and containers of plants well watered, but because we water so frequently, nutrients are lost before the roots can use them. Try watering only when the top of the soil has dried out, and fertilize about every three weeks with a diluted liquid fertilizer. This will provide an almost constant supply of nutrients to the plant's roots. Different fertilizer products have different concentrations and different formulas, so read and follow the label directions. Your peppers should perk up in no time at all!

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