Do you plant peppers deep like tomatoes?
No. There’s no benefit to planting your peppers deep.
Unlike tomatoes, peppers will not produce extra roots along their stem when they’re buried in soil.
What’s more, you’ll create extra problems for yourself if you follow mistaken advice and plant deeper than the recommended depth.
In this article you’ll learn the right way to plant peppers and some tips to take care of your peppers for the healthiest growth.
How Deep Do Pepper Plants Need To Be Planted?
Plant your peppers at soil level.
What does this mean?
When you take a young pepper plant out of its pot, set it in your planting hole so that the soil around the top of the root ball is at the same level as the soil in the rest of your planting bed.
Should I Bury Pepper Stems?
No. Please don’t do this.
The idea that burying pepper stems, just as you would bury tomato stems, has become something of an urban myth, and it’s widely repeated online.
While peppers and tomato’s are both from the Solanaceae family, they are not the same plant, and need different conditions to grow well.
If you look at the stem of a tomato plant, you’ll notice that it’s covered in ultra-fine hairs.
When these hairs touch the ground, or are even close to moist soil, they will turn into roots, that grow and grow.
This behavior makes burying tomatoes deep when planting a really good idea.
They’ll send out more roots, and more roots means more nutrient uptake, healthier plants, and a bigger harvest.
Now, look at a pepper plant stem. It’s smooth and hairless, and has no ability to form extra roots when it’s planted deeply.
Planting Peppers Too Deeply Will Stunt growth
If you plant your peppers too deeply there are several problems that you’re likely to face.
Because the stem isn’t meant to be buried in soil, it can’t cope with wet soil conditions very well.
If your planting bed isn’t full of well draining soil, your buried plant stem will be prone to rotting.
Lower Nutrient Uptake
Pepper plant stems become thicker as they grow. When you bury the stem, it’s surrounded by soil which prevents it from becoming as thick as it would normally become.
A thinner stem won’t carry the full load of nutrients the plant needs, and a thinner stem is also prone to breaking if your plant is buffeted around by a strong wind.
Because your pepper plant can’t grow as vigorously , it can become shaded out by other plants growing nearby.
This shading will compound the poor growth conditions, and you’ll have a weak plant that can’t produce a plentiful crop.
How Deep Do Pepper Plant Roots Grow?
Pepper plants will develop different root systems depending on your seed planting method.
If you live in a warm climate that allows you to sow seed directly into your outdoor planting bed, then your plant’s roots will grow undisturbed, and the result of this is a lovely, long taproot, penetrating as deep 3 feet, if your soil allows.
The long taproot helps the pepper to access moisture deep down in the soil, which makes sense for a plant that originated in a hot climate.
For most of us though, when it’s time to sow pepper seed, it’s far too cold to sow it outdoors. We have to sow in pots indoors instead.
While this gives us the early start that peppers need, it means disturbing the roots every time the young plants are potted on when they outgrow their containers.
It’s hard to avoid breaking the tip off the taproot when potting on, so instead of growing a very long taproot, these plants will develop a broader, lateral root system instead.
These roots will reach a depth of 18 to 24 inches (46 to 60 cm).
While a deep taproot would be essential for the plant’s survival in its natural wild environment, it makes no difference for cultivated plants which are regularly watered and cared for.
How deep Should A Container Be For peppers?
You’ll need a container that’s at least 18 inches (45 cm) deep for bell peppers, although 24 inches (60 cm) is ideal.
The width of your container is important too, so choose one that’s at least 24 inches (60 cm) wide.
What’s The Best Potting Soil For Growing Peppers?
If you want a ready-made potting mix, look for mixes that are rich in humus for good drainage, have added vermiculite or perlite to hold onto moisture and nutrients, incorporate slow-release nutrients, and have the correct pH of 6.3 – 6.8.
Fox Farm’s Ocean Forest is a good mix that meets all of the above requirements, another is Performance Organics from Miracle Gro.
It’s a good idea to ask at your local nursery to see what they recommend too.
How Much Water Do Peppers Need?
Peppers need water, but unlike some very thirsty plants they actually don’t need that much water.
As a general rule, water once a week.
Exactly how much water your plants need will depend of several factors.
Are your peppers in pots, in raised beds, or in the ground?
The soil in containers dries out more quickly than ground soil, or the soil in raised beds. You’ll need to check your containers regularly (daily in very hot weather) to test your soil’s moisture level.
Poke your finger an inch into the soil and if it’s dry, your plants need some water.
Are you growing outdoors, or in a polytunnel or greenhouse?
Temperatures in greenhouses can get very high during the day and your plants will take up a lot of water. But unlike containers, that have a relatively small amount of soil to hold water, growing beds in a greenhouse have a much higher water holding capacity.
You shouldn’t need to water them every day unless it’s exceptionally warm weather. Check the soil a couple of times a week, and water when the soil feels dry one inch below the surface.
What stage of growth are your plants at?
When your plants are still at the seedling stage, provide water from below rather than watering from above, which can damage fragile stems.
Set your seedling trays or pots into a shallow tray filed with water. Give them time to drink, and when the soil at the top of your pots is moist, remove the pots and pour the water away.
Don’t leave young plants sitting in trays of water. The soil won’t drain, and pepper roots don’t like sitting in waterlogged soil.
Older plants can be watered from above, but it’s better to water the soil around the base of the plant to keep the leaves dry and free from fungal growths.
What’s the weather like?
If your weather is average for the season, you shouldn’t need to water more than once a week, but if it’s hot, you might need to water daily.
Are your peppers in a sheltered spot, or are they exposed to drying winds?
Wind increases the evaporation losses from soil. If you can, you should plant peppers in a sheltered spot, but sometimes the wind will come from the exposed direction and dry your plants out more quickly than usual.
To slow down losses from evaporation, mulch your peppers with a layer of straw or dried grass clippings.
Do Peppers Need feeding?
Begin feeding your seedlings when they’re about a week old. A good all-round fertilizer will be fine. Tomato feed is another good choice.
If your potting mix incorporated slow-release nutrients, you won’t need to fertilize yet.
Dilute the feed half-and-half with water while the plants are young, and feed once a week.
2 – 3 Weeks
At this stage, switch to full-strength fertilizer and feed once a week.
If you’ve potted on your plants into a good quality potting soil with incorporated nutrients, you can hold off fertilizing until you transfer your plants to their growing position.
When your plants are mature enough to begin producing flowers, switch to a fertilizer that’s formulated for the blooming stage.
These fertilizers have a lower nitrogen ratio which is exactly what you need at this stage, because too much nitrogen results in lots of lush foliage, but very few peppers.
Follow the guidelines on the package to determine the best feeding frequency for the brand and formulation you’re using. Over-feeding is as bad as under-feeding.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Plant Peppers Deep Like Tomatoes?
No, planting peppers deeply has zero benefit and can actually hamper your plant’s ability to grow well. Deep planting is great for tomatoes because the tiny hairs on tomato plant stems will develop into roots all along the length of their buried stems. pepper plants have hairless stems and will not make extra roots.Planting a pepper plant deeply will result in a weaker stem, less able to carry nutrients to the rest of the plant.
Can You Plant Peppers In A 5 Gallon Bucket?
Absolutely. A 5 gallon bucket is a good size container for one pepper plant, and as long as you pay attention to correct feeding and watering, your pepper plant should de really well.
Over to you
Now you know all about planting, feeding, and watering pepper plants, all you have left to do is get busy planting.
And remember to watch that planting depth!