Every year, we grow jalapeño peppers in pots. One year, it was a purple variety. Another, it was a traditional green jalapeño. One year, we even grew 8 unique jalapeño varieties, from the beautiful NuMex Lemon Spice, to the massive Goliath jalapeño.
Jalapeños are one of the easiest peppers to grow at home. So, in this article we will share everything we have learned about growing jalapeños in pots to help you achieve the best possible harvest.
This post is tailored specifically to growing jalapeños in containers rather than in the ground. For a more broad article on growing pepper plants, check out our post about growing peppers from seed here.
Read Next: Growing bell peppers in pots
This will also assume you are starting your jalapeño peppers from seed in the late winter. If you are buying plant starts, you can skip ahead to choosing a soil.
In This Article:
- Jalapeño seeds
- Choosing soil
- Fertilizing & Watering
- Choosing a container
- Jalapeno plant problems
- Saving seeds
- Jalapeño pepper uses
Buy Jalapeño Seeds and Supplies
It all starts with a seed. Or, ideally, a packet of many seeds. Jalapenos are among the most commonly grown pepper variety, so you’ll have no trouble finding seeds.
See all our recommended supplies for growing peppers here.
You can easily pick up a seed packet at your local nursery or Home Depot. However, if you are looking for some of the more interesting varieties of jalapeños, you’ll likely have to buy online.
We have bought seeds from several online retailers, but we recommend RareSeeds for a great variety of jalapenos. They have standard jalapenos, along with pumpkin spice jalapenos, lemon spice, and orange spice.
It seems that rareseeds has a new jalapeno variety every year. They even have a jalapeno that has no heat to it (but what’s the point…). Prices are usually around $3 per pack.
Planting Jalapeño Seeds (Germination)
Planting seeds is easy. However, there are some important things to know before slapping some seeds in a pot of soil. Namely, the ideal timing and the environment of the germination.
When To Plant Jalapeños
For most Northern Hemisphere growers, you will want to plant jalapeño seeds around 6 weeks before the last chance of frost. This will give the plants enough time to grow to maturity and maximize yields before the end of the growing season.
See when to plant peppers for every climate zone here.
Use this free tool to enter your postal code and determine when to plant.
We live in the Northeast US and we plant most of our pepper seeds in early March. Some jalapeno varieties mature more quickly so you may be able to get away with planting a few weeks later.
How To Plant Jalapeño Seeds
Jalapeño peppers usually germinate without issue. Other varieties may require special methods for better germination, but usually not jalapeños.
Fill some seed trays with pre-moistened seed starter soil and plant 2-3 seeds in each cell. The depth should be approximately 0.5 cm with just a light covering of soil. Water thoroughly after planted.
To give your seeds the best chance of germination, use the following tips:
- Keep the soil moist and humid. These seed trays come with a humidity dome to keep the soil from drying out too fast. Fan out the tray and spray with water about once per day.
- Keep the soil very warm. The ideal temperature for pepper seed germination is about 80°F. If you have a cold house, you can use a seed heating mat (we love ours).
How Long For Jalapeños To Germinate?
Jalapeños will typically sprout within 4-7 days. This will vary based on the age of the seeds, and the conditions under which they are germinated.
Once your seeds sprout, they will want lots and lots of light. A sunny window won’t be enough to grow the best plants.
Choosing Soil For Jalapeños
Buying soil for your peppers can be stressful. There are lots of options on the market, all of which claim to be the best soil for potted plants.
For Jalapenos, the ideal soil is a loamy, sandy mixture with lots of organic matter. This basically means that to achieve the perfect soil for your jalapenos, you’ll need to use some compost.
However, considering you are growing jalapenos in pots, you may not have the space for a compost bin. In this case, you can simply use a nutrient-rich potting soil.
We use Fox Farm Happy Frog soil for most of our potted plants. Make sure you buy your soil from a reputable source like Home Depot or Lowe’s to avoid poor storage conditions. The last thing you want is soil full of insect eggs!
Fertilizing and Watering Jalapeños
Once your jalapeños sprout, they will need a consistent schedule of both water and fertilizer to be happy. Young jalapeño plants don’t need too many nutrients, so you’ll want to be careful not to over-feed.
For the first few weeks of growth, we like to rely on our potting soil to feed the plants. This means no fertilizer (as long as the potting soil has nutrients added). If you’d like to feed the plants, we recommend diluting the fertilizer early on to avoid over-feeding.
After your plants have matured and are beginning to produce fruits outdoors, then is a good time to supplement with fertilizer. This ensures the fruits will develop properly, and that the plants will produce their maximum yield.
Which fertilizer should I use for jalapeños?
So, what is the ideal fertilizer for growing jalapeños? We have experimented with many different fertilizers, and we recommend 3 brands.
Miracle-Gro Organics – Get it on Amazon
This water-soluble organic fertilizer is excellent for early stage growth. The high nitrogen levels will lead to well-developed leafy growth on your jalapeño plants. However, this may not be a great option for later in the season when your plants begin producing flowers. At that point in time, switch to something with lower nitrogen, or simply cut back on feeding.
If you want a one-stop-shop for jalapeño fertilizer, this is it!
Espoma Garden Tone – Get it on Amazon
This is perhaps the simplest method of fertilizing peppers. Garden Tone is a slow-release all-purpose fertilizer that is applied once or twice per season. It should be mixed into the soil at the beginning of the year, and can also be applied mid-summer as a side dressing (sprinkled around the plant’s stem). Great for in-ground plantings.
Fox Farm Trio – Get it on Amazon
What we love about this trio is the simplicity. Each bottle of fertilizer is designed for a different stage of plant growth. You’ll use ‘Grow Big’ while your jalapeños are in their growth stage. Then, you will switch to ‘Big Bloom’ for healthy flower production. Finally, you’ll move to ‘Tiger Bloom’ through the harvest period.
There are lots of other options out there, but I like to use water-soluble fertilizers for growing in pots. Liquid nutrients are immediately available for the plant to use, while granular types have to be broken down first.
Read more about pepper plant fertilizer in our article here.
Watering jalapeño plants
This is perhaps one of the most common problems people have when growing jalapeños in pots: overwatering. Don’t over-care for your pepper plants!
Here are some basic rules to follow when watering your peppers:
- Allow the plants to dry out between waterings. The first inch or so of soil should be dry before applying more water. Peppers prefer dry conditions over moist. Thankfully, over-watering is difficult when growing in pots.
- Water in the early morning or evening. Watering in the evening is our preference. The water will have time to absorb into the roots with minimal evaporation from the hot sun.
- Water at the base of the plant, not all over the leaves. Water at the soil level where the plant can actually use it. Watering over the leaves can lead to more fungal disease issues.
- Don’t just water ‘every X number of days.’ When it is hot and sunny, your jalapeños will use much more water than on cloudy, cooler days. Pay attention to the plant and only water when you are sure they need it!
Learn (a lot) more about watering pepper plants in our article here.
Once your seedlings have sprouted and grown for 2-3 weeks, it is time to size-up their containers. You can move the plants directly to their final pot, but we prefer to transplant into only slightly larger pots first.
In Dave DeWitt’s ‘The Field Guide To Peppers,’ we learned that transplanting to appropriately sized pots leads to faster growth than moving directly into a huge pot. We’re not sure about the science behind this, but we have always had very fast-growing peppers using this method.
From your seedling trays, move the jalapeño plants to 3-4″ pots with fresh, pre-moistened soil. This will be their home for the next several weeks until they are ready to be moved into a final container.
Pruning Jalapeño Peppers
Once your jalapeño plants have been alive for about 6-8 weeks, it is time to consider pruning. Pruning is the process of snipping away a portion of the plant to allow new growth to develop.
The purpose of pruning is, in theory, to keep the plant lower and sturdier. It is also said to help the plants produce more flowers and higher yields.
Note: We no longer prune our pepper plants, as we have found minimal benefit in terms of yield or plant structure. While it doesn’t seem to harm jalapeños, it feels like an unnecessary extra step.
How to prune peppers (video):
Picking a Container for Jalapeños
While your jalapeño peppers are growing, you can take the time to search for the perfect container. This will largely depend in your personal preference, but there are some factors to consider.
Namely, how much space can you devote to your jalapeño plants?
The ideal container size for peppers will be different for each pepper variety. However, the rule of thumb is that the larger the pepper, the larger the pot should be.
What is the ideal container size for jalapeños?
Considering that jalapenos are medium-sized peppers, the ideal pot size is right down the middle. This means that jalapenos should be planted in 4-5 gallon pots for an ideal harvest. Any smaller and you may be sacrificing some of the plant’s productivity.
Peppers can be planted in much larger pots (10+ gallons), and should be if you plan to overwinter them. However, if you are planning to grow your jalapeños and discard them at the end of the season, 4-5 gallons is perfect.
We use these planters from Amazon – they are affordable and come in many different colors and sizes.
Read our post about choosing a pepper plant container here.
Jalapeño Pepper Plant Problems
Once your plants have been transplanted to their final pots, some general care is in order. Here are some things to watch for while your jalapeno plants grow and mature.
One of the most common issues with pepper plants are curling leaves. Your plants appear to be growing strong when suddenly you notice distorted leaves. What went wrong?!
There are many possible causes, from too much light, to too much water, to perhaps a calcium deficiency.
But before you go self-diagnosing the problem, read our article specifically about pepper plant leaves curling here.
Another common sighting for jalapeno plants are yellowing leaves. If you start to see your leaves turning yellow, don’t panic. It could simply be natural leaf death.
However, if the problem persists and spreads, read our article on why pepper plant leaves turn yellow here. This will help you diagnose and fix the problem quickly.
Ever heard of aphids? Well, they like jalapeno plants as much as you do. However, they won’t eat the peppers, just the sap in your leaves. They multiply rapidly and can be difficult to spot. Once the problem begins, it can be tough to control. Catching them early is key. Read our post about aphid control here.
You can also set up sticky paper to attract and trap negative insect pests. The risk here is that you will trap the good guys as well.
If this isn’t enough and you have a bad infestation, you could try hosing off your plant with a spray nozzle to physically remove the bugs. Just be careful not to damage the foliage in the process.
If all else fails, introducing (or attracting) beneficial insects like ladybugs can work wonders for your pepper plants. The ladybugs will feed on aphids and other small insects, keeping the population low. These can, however, be tricky to source. Try calling local nurseries and hardware stores.
Bacteria & fungus
If you notice brown or black spots on your leaves, your plant could have a bacterial infection. However, this is not the only cause of brown spots. Don’t just jump to conclusions and throw your plant away.
If you suspect bacteria, compare your leave’s spots to other, confirmed cases of the issue. Unfortunately, most bacterial infections in plants can spread easily to other plants and require total removal of the plant.
The best way to avoid bacterial issues is to keep the bottom leaves away from the soil. Soil harbors thousands of bacteria and spores, ready to splash onto your plant during a heavy rainfall. Use a mulch or straw below your plants to help avoid this. You can also snip away low-hanging leaves on a dry day.
When you have finally reached the end of the growing season, and your jalapeños begin to ripen, you can start reaping the rewards.
Harvesting jalapeños is easy. Simply pull the pepper in an upwards motion. The pepper should snap off right at the base of its stem.
One thing to consider is whether you want green or red jalapeños. If you want some red jalapeños, leave them on the plant until they begin to change color. They will turn from green to black and finally to a deep red.
Red jalapeños will often be more spicy than green jalapeños. The more time the peppers have to ripen, the more capsaicin can develop. Red jalapeños are also sweeter than green.
Tip: Want extra spicy peppers? Try water-stressing the plants. Allowing the plants to become overly-dry between waterings while the peppers are ripening causes the pods to produce more capsaicin.
Learn more about harvesting jalapeños in our article here.
Saving Jalapeño Pepper Seeds
If you plan to grow again next year, there’s no better way than to save your own seeds. This process is easy and highly satisfying. Each pepper produces dozens of seeds, so even just 1 or 2 peppers may be plenty for your needs.
The basic principles for saving jalapeno seeds are:
- Use fully ripened peppers. Unripe peppers may contain underdeveloped seeds.
- Dry out the seeds thoroughly. Lay the seeds out on a paper towel or a plate in a place with plenty of airflow. Moisture is an enemy of storing your seeds.
- Store the seeds in a cool, dry container. We recommend using a food-safe desiccant packet to keep moisture and oxygen out.
Learn more about saving your own pepper seeds in our article here.
What To Do With All Your Jalapeños
After all is said and done, you hopefully have a bunch of fresh jalapeños. But what now?!
You have lots of options for using your jalapeños. We recommend using them for a variety of purposes. We usually use some right away, give some away to family, and then preserve whatever is left.
Here are a few options:
- Pickled jalapeños – our favorite preservation method!
- Jalapeño salsa
- Jalapeño hot sauce
- Dehydrate jalapeños
- Roasted jalapeños
You can also make some jalapeño poppers, or chop them up and use them in a stir fry. Jalapenos also make a great addition to salsa (try our pineapple jalapeño salsa here) or guacamole. Learn all our favorite ways to store jalapeños here.
I hope this article helped you with growing jalapeños in pots this year. We love container gardening for a simple way to grow our own peppers. Let us know how your jalapenos are progressing! If you have questions or suggestions, leave them in the comments below.