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Pepper Plant Spacing: Complete Guide
It’s important to have proper pepper plant spacing regardless of whether you’re planting them in a garden, raised bed, or container. Giving peppers the right amount of space encourages healthy growth and easier harvesting.
Typically your seed packet or nursery tag will tell you the exact spacing needed for your variety. Check for it, and use that as your guide if at all possible.
If no spacing directions were included with yours, then use the following guidelines. They’re based on whether you plant in a garden, raised bed, or container and what pepper variety you have.
Why to Space Peppers Carefully
If you plant peppers too closely together, you’ll probably have problems. They may compete for nutrients, light, and root space. Growing them too closely can also lead to disease, since there is less airflow to dry their leaves.
A second concern is for those who like to save and plant seeds from the past year’s crop. If you grow multiple pepper varieties near each other, they can cross-pollinate and affect the flavor of the peppers you grow next year. However, the only solution for this is to keep different pepper varieties separated by at least 30 feet, so it’s not viable for the average grower. You’ll most likely just want to plan to buy new seeds.
As for giving them too much space – it’s actually not possible. You can space your peppers as far apart as you want, since the plants don’t benefit from close planting – you do by saving space in the garden and cutting down on weeds. Space is valuable for most gardeners, so giving peppers just the right amount of space they need and no more can really pay off in terms of yield for your other plants.
Pepper Plant Spacing in Raised Beds and Gardens
On average, peppers should be spaced 12-18 inches apart from stem to stem, with rows about 30-36 inches apart if you’re leaving room for foot traffic. That works out to roughly one pepper plant per square foot.
You can use a triangular pattern rather than rows to really maximize space. This can work especially well in a raised bed, where you may not have to worry about leaving space for a footpath. To plant in a triangular pattern, follow this tutorial.
Pepper Plant Spacing in Containers
In general, if you’re growing peppers in containers, there should be only one plant per container. Further specifics are governed by the size of the container in addition to the pepper variety.
For even one plant of any variety, you’ll need a container that holds 5 gallons of potting soil. You can use any 5-gallon grow bag or plastic pot, including a standard 5-gallon bucket you can find at Home Depot or another home improvement store – just be sure to add drainage holes first.
The best practice is to plant one pepper plant or seed per 5 gallons of potting soil. You can try for more if it’s a particularly wide pot, but they may compete for nutrients. Your best bet is to get a larger pot that will hold more soil.
While having 5 gallons of soil per plant is ideal, it may not be necessary – if you grow a small variety in your container, you may be able to fit two comfortably.
Spacing Based On Pepper Variety
Read below for the full directions for each type.
Bell Pepper Plant Spacing
Bell peppers should be spaced 18 inches apart from stem to stem.
Cayenne and Jalapeno Pepper Spacing
Hot peppers like cayenne and jalapeno should be spaced 12-18 inches apart from stem to stem.
Habanero Pepper Spacing
Plants in the habanero family tend to grow large, so give them 18-24 inches of space between stems. If you’re growing them in containers, make sure each one has at least 5 gallons of soil.
Here are a few other common questions related to pepper plant spacing:
Should the Leaves Touch?
You may have heard that peppers need to have the leaves of another pepper plant touching theirs once they’re full grown for pollination. This isn’t true, since peppers self-pollinate.
The leaves-touching-each-other rule is actually more of a guide to how well spaced they are, as they can have their leaves just barely touching once they’re fully grown to maximize space. If they don’t touch though, they’re fine.
What if I’ve already planted them too close together?
If you’re really concerned about your plants being too crowded, you can carefully dig one up and transplant it. However, you’ll need to be cautious, since their roots (especially hot pepper varieties) can be extremely wide and deep. You can use a shovel or trowel to clear a corner of the plant as best as possible, then maneuver the rest of the roots out, but keep in mind the move may permanently damage that plant.
It’s best to only transplant them if it will drastically improve their health and yield. In most cases, being a few inches closer together than they should be won’t cause a major issue. Rather than transplanting, just plan to fertilize them midway through the summer.
Happy Pepper Growing!
You should now understand how to space your peppers based on their type and how you choose to plant them. But you may not know what other plants grow well alongside peppers – here’s a guide to pepper companion plants!
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