Hot Peppers (Banana Pepper & Serrano Pepper)
- full sun
- requires well-drained soil
How to plant:
Propagate by seed
Germination temperature: 70 F to 95 F - Will not germinate below 55 F.
Days to emergence: 7 to 10 - at soil temperatures around 85 F.
Seed can be saved 2 years.
Maintenance and care:
Sow seeds indoors, 1/4 inch deep in flats, peat pots or cellpacks, 8-10 weeks before you anticipate transplanting outside. Seed germinates best when soil temperature is 80 F or higher. It will not germinate below 55 F.
Keep plants indoors in a warm (70 F during the day, 65 F at night), sunny location. Lack of light will produce leggy, unproductive transplants.
Don't be in a rush to transplant outside. Cold temperatures can weaken plants and they may never fully recover. A few days at 60 F to 65 F with reduced water will help harden plants and reduce transplant shock. Over-hardened plants grow slowly after transplanting.
Set plants out 2 to 3 weeks after average last frost when the soil has warmed and the weather has settled. Plant them 12 to 24 inches apart, in rows 24 to 36 inches apart, or spaced about 14 to 16 inches apart in raised beds.
Use black plastic and/or row covers to speed soil warming and early growth. Use caution with row covers not to overheat plants and cause them to drop their blossoms.
If not using black plastic, mulch plants after they are well established and the soil has warmed to retain moisture and control weeds.
Peppers can be temperamental when it comes to setting fruit if temperatures are too hot or too cool. Nighttime temperatures below 60 F or above 75 F can reduce fruit set.
Too much nitrogen fertilizer may promote lush vegetative growth but fewer fruits. Peppers usually responds well to phosphorus fertilizer.
Stake tall varieties for earlier and heavier harvest.
Peppers need even moisture for best performance. An even supply can reduce blossom end rot, a disorder caused by lack of calcium.
Do not plant in same spot more than once every 4 years.
Aphids - A hard stream of water can be used to remove aphids from plants. Wash off with water occasionally as needed early in the day. Check for evidence of natural enemies such as gray-brown or bloated parasitized aphids and the presence of alligator-like larvae of lady beetles and lacewings.
Borers - Remove by hand. Destroy infested plants.
Tarnished plant bugs
Cucumber mosaic virus - Disease causes ringspots and oak-leaf patterns on fruit. Rogue plants. Remove and destroy entire infested plant. Control aphids that spread the virus. Eliminate perennial weed sources such as milkweed, marshcress and yellow rocket and avoid planting next to susceptible ornamentals.
Blossom end rot - Water during drought or mulch to keep moisture level constant. Grow in soil high in organic matter. Fertilize properly. Avoid cultivating close to plants.