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The best tips for growing pepper plants encourage a healthy, productive crop. It is important to ensure proper seed germination and to plant in soil that is balanced and well-drained. Keeping the pepper plants free of pests, feeding them with quality plant food, and providing proper lighting all encourage good plant growth.
Ideally, the process of growing pepper plants — whether the sweet bell variety or hot varieties such as cayenne, chili, and jalapeño — can be started in the early spring indoors. Both seedlings and established plants in pots require plenty of sunshine. Pepper plants can be transplanted outdoors when there is no longer any danger of frost in the gardener's growing zone.
Growing pepper plants of any variety requires plenty of water for moist soil. Though it’s important to keep the soil moist, plants allowed to stand in water might develop root or stem rot. This can be prevented by supplying the plants with soil that drains well and by not over-watering. Properly designed containers or pots can provide optimum drainage indoors or outdoors.
Growing pepper plants that are healthy and productive requires maintaining proper soil balance with fertilizer or compost. When transplanting peppers outdoors, each should be planted with nitrogen-based fertilizer mixed into the soil. This rich mixture provides nutrients the plants need to encourage growth and promote budding. Once the plants begin to produce peppers, feeding them again will replace depleted nutrients. Gardeners should follow the fertilizer manufacturer’s instructions for the recommended amount to use.
Aphids are a particularly active pest on pepper plants. To keep pepper plants aphid-free, gardeners should spray them with a mild soap and water solution on the leaves. This will also prevent the sticky residue left by aphids. Some unhealthy conditions affecting pepper plants caused by infestation may require the use of a commercial insecticide to eliminate pests and disease.
Plants that are unhealthy can result in smaller peppers, leaf dropping, and wilted leaves. Unhealthy pepper plants may lose buds, have discolored and disfigured stems or leaves, or exhibit powdery growth on the stems. Some causes of these conditions are viruses transmitted by aphids, bacteria, and fungus. Plants will need to be treated with the appropriate insecticide.
Pepper plants are sensitive to seasonal climates and changes in temperature. New plants should be protected from cold weather and planted in locations where they will receive full sun. Extremely hot daytime temperatures combined with moderate night temperatures may cause a loss of blooms. Plants dropping blooms in the early spring is also possible if seasonal temperatures remain cool longer than forecast.
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