Light requirements: Full sun.
Planting: Space 12 to 48 inches apart, depending on type. (See information above for specific recommendations.)
Soil requirements: Peppers need well-drained, nutrient-rich soil. Amend soil with 3 to 5 inches of compost or other organic matter prior to planting. Soil pH should be 6.2 to 7.0.
Water requirements: Keep soil consistently moist throughout the growing season. Mulch soil to reduce water evaporation.
Frost-fighting plan: Pepper is a hot-weather crop. A light frost will damage plants (28º F to 32º F), and temps below 55º F slow growth and cause leaves to look yellowish. If a surprise late spring frost is in the forecast, protect newly planted seedlings with a frost blanket.
Common issues: Plants drop flowers when daytime temps soar above 90º F. Few pests bother peppers, but keep an eye out for aphids, slugs, pill bugs, and leafminers. Humid weather (especially in gardens with heavy soil that doesn’t drain well) can invite fungal diseases like leafspot.
Harvesting: Check image on plant tag (or at the top of this page) to learn what your pepper looks like when mature. Some peppers turn red, yellow, or other colors at maturity. Others are ready in the green stage, but will turn red if left on plants. Use pruning shears or a sharp knife to cut peppers with a short stub of stem attached. Pulling peppers by hand can cause entire branches to break off. Fruits store longer for fresh use if you don’t remove the stem, which can create an open wound that’s ripe for spoiling.
Storage: Store unwashed (or washed and dried) peppers in the refrigerator in a loosely closed plastic bag. Moisture is a pepper’s enemy and hastens spoiling. For peak flavor and nutrition, use within a week.
For more information, visit the Peppers page in our How to Grow section.
- Calories: 34
- Carbohydrates: 8g
- Dietary fiber: 4g
- Protein: 2g
- Vitamin A: 20% DV
- Vitamin C: 79% DV
- Vitamin K: 15%
- Folate: 9%
- Manganese: 10%
- Potassium: 9%
This small hot chile pepper will add a lot of heat to your salsas and sauces and brings a punch of important vitamins and minerals as well. Serranos are especially high in vitamins C and A, two very powerful antioxidants that fight off disease, as well as vitamin B6, important for heart health. Lots of research has been done on capsaicin, the compound in the seeds and ribs of hot peppers that causes the heat. Capsaicin is thought be a strong anti-inflammatory agent, helpful in digestion of fats, and effective against sinus infections.