People see the jalapeno plant and immediately think that such a spicy species is hard to grow.
But it isn’t.
While not necessarily easy, it’s still a no-brainer, given you have decent gardening skills.
The process requires patience, though. Jalapenos take some time to sprout and even more so to start growing until the first harvest.
Luckily, growing jalapeno pepper shouldn’t be much of a problem if you follow our advice.
We’re making it as easy to understand and straightforward as possible. So pay attention and get that jalapeno to burn mouths in no time!
What is Jalapeno Pepper?
It is a chili pepper, part of the Capsicum annum species. Chili peppers are all those cultivars that aren’t like the original pepper (tiny, spicy, and generally red) but can achieve all kinds of colors, sizes, and even tastes.
The Jalapeno pepper, for example, tends to be in the middle in terms of spiciness and size. But regarding growth, it requires pretty much the same thing as other cultivars.
It is the most popular among peppers, for sure. Jalapenos are planted pretty much worldwide, going from the US to China, India, Peru, Spain, and of course, Mexico.
The name comes from a city in Mexico of the same name (Jalapa). According to records, jalapenos have been used in Aztec cuisine for thousands of years. Nowadays, they are part of a wide array of toppings, sauces, salsas, and even unique dishes that cook them whole.
You can pretty much say the jalapeno is the most versatile and sought-after pepper out there. Growing it is a sure-fire way to improve your vegetable garden.
What Does Jalapeno Pepper Look Like?
One jalapeno is a medium-sized pepper, often between 2 and 5 inches in length. The pepper is usually green in the first few weeks of growth. When it achieves maturity, a pepper turns red, which means it is ripe.
Like other pepper plants, the jalapeno plant can grow to about 3 feet in height. In some cases, the plant achieves up to 5 feet.
Before the jalapeno, the plant produces a white flower that’s often compared to other nightshades. This makes the pepper also useful as an ornamental.
How Many Scovilles is a Jalapeno Pepper?
A jalapeno can reach up to 8,000 Scoville units. This makes it a medium-hotness species.
Why medium? Well, the Carolina Reaper, the hottest of peppers, can reach 2 million Scoville units.
A standard sweet pepper, on the other hand, has a Scoville rate of zero.
Jalapeno Pepper Plant Needs
Let’s get into the essential facts now. What do you need for the jalapeno plant to thrive? Here are a few factors to consider:
Space & Potting
The jalapeno plant spacing depends on where you’re planting it. For example, pots need to be at least 8 inches in diameter from the seeding to the sprouting.
Once the plant starts to mature, you will need at least 12 inches in diameter for the plant to thrive.
Planted in gardens, it is worth separating each pepper by 14 inches each. If they’re in rows, you should separate each row with 3 feet of distance.
Generally, though, you can grow them pretty much anywhere. Some people grow them in plastic bottles, while others prefer jars. A standard terracotta pot with about 2 gallons of soil capacity will suffice for its whole life.
Soil & Fertilizer
As nightshades, peppers prefer nutritious soils. The jalapeno is no exception.
It is recommended to use nutrient-rich soil, a lot of fertilizer, and tons of organic material.
Also, the soil still needs to be well-draining for the plant to thrive. Too much humidity from inadequate drainage may cause disease.
Water & Humidity
While not a moisty-soil lover, the jalapeno plant thrives with appropriate irrigation. This often means anywhere from two to three days of watering per week.
It is important to not overwater, though. For example, in places with tons of humidity, it is better to avoid watering the plant at all until the soil is dry.
For dry areas where it rarely rains, watering every day can be helpful. In this case, adding a bit of mulch to contain moisture can also help.
Light & Air
If there’s a critical factor when it comes to growing peppers, that’s light.
You need to ensure no less than 16 hours a day for a pepper. And that’s even more important when it is a sprout than it is fully grown.
For indoor growing, you can set your plant under artificial grow lights if you want. But even then, you’ll need to ensure two-digit hours at least.
Apart from that, jalapenos are surprisingly well-adapted to windy areas. In fact, they like it when there’s enough win. If you’re growing them indoors, placing them in front of a fan could help their growth.
Temperature & Environment
As a tropical plant, the jalapeno pepper won’t resist low temperatures.
If you want the plant to thrive, keep it between 75- and 85-degrees Fahrenheit. In places with temps lower than that, the jalapenos tend to struggle and often don’t even flower. The same happens if temperatures rise over 90 degrees consistently.
The best way to ensure jalapenos growing for several years is to keep them protected from cold and extreme heat.
Growing them indoors is an excellent idea in places with extreme temps. Otherwise, growing outdoors is the best choice.
How to Grow Jalapeno Peppers
Now it’s time for the nitty-gritty. With all the basics covered, here’s what you need to do:
1. Choose the Right Method
Learning how to plant jalapeno is not just about its requirements but also about the right approach.
There are three ways to get this plant growing:
- From seed: This is the usual and most entertaining way. Growing from seed is relatively easy and doesn’t have many downsides. It is the slowest method, though. About 10 weeks to see a sprouting plant.
- From seedling: The boring approach, yet the fastest. This is obviously an easy method as well as a quick one. You won’t need more than 4 weeks for the plant to mature.
Either way, you will probably have to start the jalapeno plant indoors. They don’t fancy cold nights at all.
2. Start at the Right Time
Once you’ve decided when to plant them, pick the right moment to do so.
Why? Because the jalapeno pepper HATES cold environments. Meaning, if you plant them just before winter or when frosts are about to start, there’s a chance the plant won’t sprout.
As an average, planting the jalapeno between 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost is a great idea. Meaning, if there’s one month until winter ends – that’s the right time to plant it.
If you’re planting outside, you need to make sure there’s no winter or frost at all. In that case, the ideal moment would be spring or summer.
3. Select the Containers
You’ve decided what planting method to use as well as the ideal time. Now you should select what container you’re using.
As explained before, you can use pretty much anything. But it’s worth trying a germination tray if you’re planting several seeds at once. Another recommendation would be a small, improvised pot, like a soda can or bean bottle.
Why? Because the smallest it is, the more density of nutrients it will have, and the faster the seed will sprout.
If you’re starting from seedlings, large pots of about 10 inches in diameter would be better.
4. Prepare the Soil
The soil needs to be as nutritious as possible. For that reason, it’s recommended to use a mix of compost with seed-starting soil mix.
If you’re starting from a seedling and want to transplant it into potting soil, use a larger container (preferable over 8 inches in diameter). Mix the soil with compost as well.
It’s worth knowing that repotting the pepper when it’s still a seedling may cause damage. So we recommend not doing it until it’s already over 2 inches long.
5. Fill the Pots & Plant
Now you can fill the containers. Don’t fill them completely. About 75% of the pot will be enough to ensure you can place the seed in.
Each container should have two or three seeds. The depth shouldn’t be more than a quarter of an inch.
In case you started from seedling, and it is large enough, open a small hole with your hands and insert the plant there.
6. Nurture the Plants
With the seeds in place, it’s time to nurture them. Here, you should keep them in a warm location, preferably with low light. You should keep them that way for 14 to 21 days until the seeds germinate and sprout. When the first few leaves appear, pour some fertilizer into the container.
For seedlings, you should instead keep them outside. Preferably over 10 hours outdoors for better sun exposure. Fertilize them once.
Either way, keep the soil moist for the plant to absorb nutrients better. Water the seed at least once every three days. The seedling may need watering every day or two (or when it gets dry).
7. Keep the Plants Fresh and Sunny
For sustained growth, especially for seedlings growing indoors, it’s recommended to give them anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes of wind a day. Indoors, that would mean placing a fan in front of them.
At the same time, you should ensure anywhere from 6 to 16 hours of sun exposure a day. If you’re growing indoors, leave the plant outside early in the morning to the afternoon, preferably until dusk.
For outdoors, you may not need to worry about either the fan or the sun.
8. Wait for the Plants to Grow
As you help the plants get some wind and sun, you should leave them be. Try to keep their soil humid enough and their soil nutritious by fertilizing once a month (use slow-release fertilizer).
It shouldn’t take more than 8 weeks up to 14 weeks for the plant to start producing its first blooms as you wait. When that happens, you know the plants are sufficiently matured and need no extra care.
9. Harvest the Jalapenos
Don’t let the jalapenos go to waste. You can harvest them either when they’re green or when they’re red.
It’s worth knowing that the perfect time is when they develop cracks in the skin. This typically happens when it’s ripe and ready to be consumed.
You may notice up to 40 peppers per plant at this stage. If yes, then you’ve successfully made it work.
Caring for Jalapeno Pepper
We also have some excellent advice for jalapeno plant care. Here are some of the most valuable things you can do as the plant grows:
Some jalapeno plants produce thin and weak stems that aren’t fit for growing peppers. If you see limbs like these, grab your pruners and cut them off without remorse. This will increase the amount of nutrients that go to the healthy branches that can bear fruits.
Replant When Grown
Once the plant has grown to about 2 or 4 inches, you should replant it. This is only true if you started in a seeding tray or in a tiny container.
The reason? They can grow to several feet wide and tall, so they need enough space to thrive. This is an essential part of caring for the jalapeno plant.
Ensure Proper Sun
We already mentioned how vital the sun is. Too little, for example, could make the plant lean in to reach the sun and sometimes not even produce flowers (which later become peppers). But at the same time, too much sun may cause wilting, which means you have to take it to a shaded place.
Watering your jalapeno when the sun is at full throttle could cause damage to the leaves. Apart from that, it’s vital to no overwater at all. In some cases, you may want to test whether watering it once a week is enough. If the plant doesn’t seem disturbed by that, then keep it that way.
So, does a jalapeno plant sound like a great addition to your vegetable garden? If yes – don’t hesitate!
Growing one of these will be a total blast. Once the jalapenos are ripe for consumption, you’ll have even more fun!
There’s simply no way to lose in that case. So, what are you waiting for? Get the jalapeno growing right now – you won’t regret it!