What does it take to grow peppers?
Peppers are pretty easy to grow. If you start from seed they take 5 months before harvest so it's usually best to start them indoors. When your temperatures are up past freezing its ok to plant them outside. Peppers don't like to be wet all the time so make sure you let the dry out a bit before watering, usually 1 or 2 times a week. Check the growing guide below!
Are there lots of different peppers?
All peppers are in the genus Capsicum. There are a few common species Annuum, Baccatum, Chinense, and Pubescens and many more less popular ones, list. There are thousands of pepper varieties with a range of heats, colors, and flavors; They are found all over the world, much work continues to go into finding new species and cataloging them. PepperDatabase is a public crowd-sourced site for cataloging and reviewing all the different varieties, check it out.
What makes peppers hot, is there a scale?
Capsaicinoids, most notably Capsaicin, make peppers hot. Capsaicinoids work by binding to a receptors that detect heat that's why your mouth feels like it's burning. The Capsaicinoids do not actually cause burn or any direct tissue damage at all they just simulate the feeling. The Capsaicindoid content of peppers is mesaured by the scoville scale. Peppers are measured in a HPLC test which weighs the amount of capsaicinoids in a pepper.
How to grow chile peppers
Peppers are a full sun vegetable. Indoors this means we can run lights 18 hours on, 6 hours off or 24/7. Outdoors this means you should place them somewhere with southern exposure so they get sun all day. In very hot arid climates (dubai, arizona, west texas) peppers will appreciate shade during the hottest summer months. light is a pretty complicated subject, view the more in-depth guide here.
Peppers flourish in temperatures 60F-90F (15C-32C). In a freeze(32f 0C) they will die. In very hot temperatures(110F/43C +) they will be stressed and wilt usually requiring shade / water to help cool them off.
Peppers do not like to be wet all the time. Your soilmix / soil / medium should be fast draining and have spaces for oxygen. This is commonly achieved with perlite. In hydroponics this means making sure you are aerating the solution. Peppers will grow in about any size of medium, 5 gallons (18L) is standard.
Peppers do not like to be wet all the time. You should only be watering when your medium starts to get dry. usually once every 4-5 days. In the hottest summer months this may increase to every other day.
Peppers continuously grow and flower once they reach maturity. They need a balanced nutrient profile. When peppers are fruiting they will need more calcium to prevent blossom end rot.
Stages of growth:
Peppers start from seeds. Seeds come from the middle of a fruit and are small, there are usually many seeds per fruit. For storage seeds should be stored in a dark dry space. Seeds start losing viability the longer they are kept 5+ years sees significant losses in viability.
picture(see the little white roots poking out of the seeds)
Germination is the act of a sprout emerging from the seed. Seeds germinate in warm(70f - 90f) moist places. There are many ways to achieve this environment: See the germination guide.
Once the seed is germinated it becomes a sprout. The first leaves are called seed leaves aka cotyledons. We need the plant to be in a more normal environment now not super warm and moist like in germination. If you keep the area too moist you will get damping off which will kill the sprout.
Now the plant is a bit bigger with some true leaves but it's still not mature. In this stage of growth the plant is focusing all it's energy on root and leave / branch growth. If we haven't started giving it nutrients we should now.
Now the plant is big and it will continue to grow foliage and leaves but now it will also focus on producing buds / flowers / fruit! Now we can really ramp up nutrients and focus more on fruits than the actual plant. Peppers will fruit and flower continuously until exposed to harsh conditions (a freeze for most of us who aren't in tropics).
Plants are started indoors or bought from greenhouse then planted out after last freeze date. Peppers are usually put in rows and spaced with 2ft^2 (.18 m^2) of space for each plant.
Plants are started indoors and transplanted once or twice from plugs, to 3in pots, to final home. Final containers of peppers are usually 5 gallons(18L) but can go up to any size. If you want ridiculous monster plants you can use 50 gal (180L) containers.
There are tons of different techniques of hydroponic techniques you can use, see /r/hydro. Peppers need lots of root space so larger systems / reservoirs are preferred. Many of the hydro weed systems can be used for peppers as well since plants are similar size. NFT, DWC, RDWC, ebb/flo, and kratky are popular.
Step by Step Noob Grow
Here is an easy to accomplish grow anyone should be able to follow. Many products are sourced from amazon for convenience, best if you have prime. You can follow along and switch out stuff for products you prefer, or can find locally. (say switch nutrients for something) (or switch coco coir to promix hp)
- seed from reputable vendor
- Coco Coir 5kg block
- bag of perlite
- Solo/Party cups (16 or 18oz party cup, find at local supermarket)
- t8 flourescent fixture + bulbs (best sourced at local hardware store) (fixture)(bulbs)
- Dyna Gro Foliage Pro or FloraNova Grow
- 5 gallon bag (HD, amazon)
Your grow area needs to be a good temperature, indoors somewhere is great for your first grow. I did first grow in a closet lol. If you need a heater, milkhouse heaters are good.
Set your light up and plug it in, it should be about 12inches away from tops of cups. It comes with chains to hang it or you can just rest it on something on each side.
Get half your solo cups and poke a few holes in the bottom. (heat something up to poke through like a hot dog / marshmellow / screwdriver) pic
Expand your coco, into a tub or wheelbarrow pic
dump perlite and mix it up with coco
Put your coco into cups with holes
put the cups with holes into cups without holes.. stacked
Mix a little foliage pro / water (instructions on bottle) in a jug or big cup..
Poke a hole in coco in cup with your finger about an inch. Drop 1 or 2 seeds in the hole. cover up hole.
put water in bottom cup to where it touches bottom of cup with holes. (you will get hang of this after a couple times)
put cups under light. keep coco damp at this point do no let it dry out or seeds die. Keep doing this for 2 weeks, you should see sprouts by then, if not something bad happend, ask in post with pictures.
Now just keep adding water+dynagro mix to bottom cup every 4 days or so as plant grows. pic
when plant has about 10+ leaves its ready to plant into 5 gallon bag, plants will be too big so put them outdoors after mothers day(USA) or when there is no more freeze, night time temps 3c+.
Put coco in 5 gallon bags, make hole, empty cup and stick it in there and cover it up some. pic
Water every few days with water+dynagro mix. Eventually you will get flowers / fruits, you don't have to do anything special just wait for them to ripen.