How Often To Water Pepper Plants – Pepper Watering Tips

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Water. It is an essential part of all plant life. Without it, any plant will eventually die. Some plants are better than others at resisting dry conditions, and pepper plants fall somewhere right up the middle. In this article, we will share our best advice on how often to water pepper plants.

We will cover watering pepper plants throughout the entire growing season. With these tips and guidelines, you’ll know that you are watering your pepper plants just enough, and no more!

In This Article:


How Often To Water Pepper Plants

Like any plant, the watering schedule for peppers is going to vary based on your exact situation. These are some of the factors that directly influence how much water a pepper plant will use on a daily basis:

  • Is the plant in the ground or a container?
  • What is the average temperature?
  • Is the growing container small or large?
  • Is the pepper plant young or fully developed?
  • Is there strong wind?
  • Are you growing it indoors?

As a general rule, pepper plants should be watered about once per week and allowed to thoroughly drain. However, this frequency can vary significantly based on the temperature, wind, and the size of the plant and its growing container. During a heat wave, you may need to water your potted peppers every day!

For example, a 10 gallon planter pot will take much longer to dry out than a 1 gallon sized pot. And in general, in-ground plants will take much longer to dry out than potted plants.

If you’re unsure, try using a cheap moisture meter like this one on Amazon to get an instant read on the soil’s moisture level. While they aren’t always accurate, it can help you get a read on deep soil moisture.

Tip: Water deeply and less frequently. Allowing the soil to dry between waterings encourages deeper root growth, leading to an overall healthier plant.

In general, peppers prefer being dry to being too wet. Allow your peppers to dry out a bit between watering to avoid having constantly moist soil. Remember, the deeper soil retains moisture for longer than the surface!

Use mulch to water less often

One of the best ways to reduce the need to water is to mulch your garden. This is mostly helpful for in-ground plants, but it can also benefit potted peppers.

We like to use leaf mulch, straw, or grass clippings for our garden, but wood chips can be used as well to protect the soil’s moisture. As it rains, the mulch will allow the water to reach the soil, but will protect it from evaporation and excess heat.

Young Peppers with Straw mulch 2
Mulching around pepper plants helps retain moisture.

Mulch also helps to suppress weeds, and to protect the roots from a cold night, so it is really a win win (win!). Again, mulching is a best practice particularly for in-ground or raised bed gardening.


How To Tell When Pepper Plants Are Dry

Perhaps just as important as how often to water pepper plants is knowing when they are dry. Since peppers can have such a variable rate of water usage, it is good to know the warning signs of a dry plant.

There are a few methods to know when your pepper plant is thirsty for water. Use your best judgement, and know that as time goes on, you’ll get better at spotting a dry plant!

Feel the soil

The simplest method for measuring a plant’s dryness is to use your fingers to feel the surface of the soil. Push your finger about an inch below the surface to feel for moisture. If it is dry below the surface, it is safe to water.

If you are growing in pots, you can also lift the entire potted plant to gauge the weight of the soil. As the water is used by the plant, the pot will become lighter. You will get the hang of knowing when to water based on the pepper plant’s weight.

Fun Fact: Drying out hot pepper plants during the fruiting stage causes the peppers to be spicier. This is known as “stressing” the plant and it is commonly used to grow hotter peppers.

Check the leaves

When a pepper plant becomes severely dried out, the leaves will begin to wilt. They will also feel very delicate and limp to the touch. This means that the root system is almost completely dried out and you should water thoroughly, right away.

Wilted pepper leaves recovering after being watered.

Thankfully, this is usually no issue for the pepper plant and it should fully recover in a matter of hours after being watered. However, allowing plants to wilt too frequently can cause soil quality to diminish, so try to water before wilting occurs.

Lift potted plants

If you’re growing in pots, give them a lift to get used to the weight. After watering, the pots will be significantly heavier. When they become dry, they’ll be lightweight and susceptible to falling over.

Use a moisture meter

If you are growing outside or in larger pots, a moisture meter can help determine the water levels deeper in the soil. Moisture meters work by measuring how well electricity can be conducted through the soil.

Water is a conductor of electricity, so if the electrical signal is stronger, the moisture reading is higher. This meter is cheap and works instantly. If the meter measures ‘dry’ then it is time to water. As a bonus, this model also measures pH and light intensity.


What Time Of Day To Water Peppers

This may seem like an odd topic, but when you are watering your pepper plants can make a difference. We recommend that you water pepper plants in the early morning when the sun is starting to rise, or later in the evening around sunset.

This will help avoid the possibility of the sun evaporating some of the water.

Watering pepper plant with trench around stem

If you must water your pepper plants during the day, be sure to water at the base of the plant below the leaves. If you get some water on the leaves, don’t worry too much, as it will quickly dry.


Drainage is Key to Healthy Pepper Plants

It is one thing to know when your plants are dry, but what about when they are too wet? We have written extensively about common pepper plant issues, like yellowing leaves and curling leaves. Many of them stem from over-watering or poor drainage.

It is less likely that you’ll have issues with your peppers if you under-water than if you over-water. One of the best ways to avoid over-watering is the allow for proper drainage.

Watering pepper plant with watering can

Most pots come with an attachable bottom that is intended to catch water after it flows through and soaks the soil. However, if you leave these clipped in place, the planter may not be able to release water, and the soil can become muddy and soaked.

Peppers do not tolerate highly moist conditions for very long and prefer to have soil on the dry side. So make sure that your pots are draining after you water. You can use a plant saucer or a seed starting tray to catch excess water, but just be sure the holes in your pots are free to let water out.

If your plants are in the ground, drainage can be a bit more tricky. Planting your peppers on a mound is a common practice for good drainage in heavy soils. This allows water to run away from the roots of your plants so that they don’t sit in soaked soil for too long.

Perhaps just as important as water drainage is the actual makeup of your soil. Different soil contents will determine how well it drains, as well as how well it holds nutrients.


Using The Right Soil

Having the proper soil composition can make a world of difference in your success with growing peppers. The ideal soil for pepper plants is a well-drained, sandy loam with high levels of organic material (source).

If that went right over your head, not to worry. There are 4 major components to common garden soil: Sand, silt, clay, and organic matter. The perfect sandy loam soil is essentially equal parts sand and silt, with a lower amount of clay. Each soil component has unique attributes.

  • Sand contains the largest particles, allowing for great drainage and root penetration. It is essential for peppers to have enough sand to allow for drainage and to avoid root death. For peppers, the percentage of sand should be around 40%.
  • Silt contains smaller particles than sand, which is perfect for nutrient retention and delivery to your peppers. Having a higher quantity of silt in your soil will mean less watering. For peppers, the percentage of silt should be around 40%.
  • Clay contains the finest particles, allowing for maximum nutrient storage. However, without much room for air and water, soil that is too high in clay could spell disaster for pepper plants. For peppers, the ideal percentage of clay is around 15%.
  • Organic material is the final component of healthy garden soil. The most commonly used organic material is homemade compost. Composting your food waste is a simple and affordable way to add a tremendous amount of nutrients to your soil. For peppers, try to work some organic material into your garden soil every year for a percentage of around 5%.

So how can you achieve the perfect soil composition? Unfortunately, you can’t simply buy the perfect mixture from the store. Cheap, store-bought soils tend to be made of peat moss or coir, and are not true “soil.”

See our favorite soils for peppers here.

The best method for achieving a perfect loam soil is by regularly adding organic material to your garden each year. This means compost and manures. To put it simply: Start composting!


Watering Pepper Plants While Away

It might sound ridiculous to pay someone to come and take care of watering your pepper plants while you’re away from home. You’ve worked hard to keep your plants happy and healthy, so letting them die while you’re away is a huge waste.

However, if you can’t bring yourself to ask the neighbor or a friend to swing by to give the plants water, you have other options.

For potted plants – use a pump

We bought a small pump for exactly this purpose. This batter-powered device can pump water from a reservoir (like a bucket) and deliver it to multiple stakes at the base of your pepper plants. The only drawback is that the pump does not deliver very much water at a time. It can run for up to 90 seconds per watering, twice per day. This is plenty for our smaller potted pepper plants, and is certainly a lot better than no water at all.

Video Of Our Water Pump In Action:

We would recommend using a pump for irrigation if you plan to spend at least a week away from your plants. If you live in a hot, dry climate, you may need to water more frequently, so a pump could be a lifesaver.

For raise beds, use a soaker hose

Soaker hoses are excellent for automating your irrigation. If you are busy, or plan to leave for an extended period of time, a soaker hose along with a hose timer will give you peace of mind.

They are essentially porous hoses that you lay on the soil in early spring. Whenever the spigot is turned on, the water leaks out of the hose, effectively watering all the plants that it runs past.


I hope this article helps you know when to water and when not to water your pepper plants. Watering is essential, but it is important to only do it when the plant truly needs it!

A pepper plant can handle some drying out, but will not tolerate soaking wet soil for very long. Good luck, and feel free to share your thoughts with us below.

Calvin Thumbnail

Calvin

One of the original Pepper Geeks! When Calvin isn’t gardening or learning more about peppers and botany, he might be traveling new places or playing some music.

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34 Comments

  1. Hi Calvin and Crystalyn,
    We are in our third season of container gardening. We love to grow peppers and eggplant. We could not have done it without you guys along the way.

    We usually grow hot banana peppers jalapeños and black beauty eggplant we have also tried ghost peppers and habaneros in the past with great success with all. We usually buy starter plants at our local Walmart Home Depot or rural King. This year we are concentrating on black beauty eggplant hot banana peppers and jalapeños we are also trying a couple of new plants that we found Chinese five colour, chocolate cake pepper, And a red bell pepper plant. Which are all doing great.

    This year we struggle to find hot banana pepper starter plants so we planted what we found a couple weeks later than normal they’re not growing well or producing much fruit.

    Is it possible that we just got bad plants?

    We are located in central Florida right in the middle of the state and we have a very hot growing season.

    Do you think it is too late to try to find some more hot banana peppers starter plants?

    Thank you for all your help!

    1. It’s definitely not too late to find new plants, even here in CT we are just about to start putting our seedlings in the ground. You’ve got plenty of time to get fruit later in the season. I’d suggest looking for Hungarian hot wax peppers, or similar, if you can’t find the bananas. Best of luck!

  2. I bought three sweet banana peppers that are abundantly producing. Any advice on preserving the seeds to germinate next year?

    1. For saving seeds, always make sure you wait until the pepper fully ripens before picking. This will ensure the seeds are fully mature and highly viable. Also, if you want to avoid cross pollination, it is best to isolate flowers before they open, then remove the covering after the fruit begins to form. Then, that fruit will be self-pollinated. This is only an issue if you have other pepper varieties nearby.

  3. Hi Calvin
    Thanks heaps for all the valuable information. Your insight is awesome. I’ll keep coming back to your website for inspiration, advice and guidance. Your expression is excellent and easy to follow. I’m so glad I discovered your website. I will tell my friends and family about your website.
    Please keep up the great work and thank you 🙏 for sharing all your knowledge.
    Aleko from Torquay in Melbourne.

  4. Waiting for my green peppers to turn red but many are getting brown areas before turning red. Suggestions please.

  5. I have a few different varieties of sweet peppers in pots and in a raised bed (first time ever having a raised bed). The plants in the pots are doing a lot better than the ones in the raised bed and I think it’s because the soil is too wet in the raised bed. I was trying to let it dry out a bit and not water, but we’ve had 2 days with a heavy down pour of rain and more in the forecast.
    What suggestions do you have to protect the plants from more rain?

    1. @Deena, Cover your plants in the raised bed, with a sheet of plastic….don’t let this plastic
      weigh down your plants

  6. I have peppers in 7 gallon grow bags. I’m worried all the rain is washing away my nutrients for the plants. I use liquid fertilizer but my plants don’t need more water. What do I do?

  7. I use a drip system. My part of California will be 110 this afternoon. I’ll water 3 times today to keep my garden alive. I am more worried about sunburn on my sweet peppers and will use shade cloth again today.

  8. For those of us who live in areas where water is more precious (Colorado, California, etc…), I might suggest using a more precise watering method. Instead of using a soaker hose hooked up to a timer, I’ve been used 1/2″ PVC with a hole drilled every 12 inches (or whatever pitch you might want). All the PVC is dry fitted together so I can easily take it down at the end of the season. I think plant my peppers/tomatoes on a 12″ pitch. This coupled with using straw mulch has been a game changer. Unlike a soaker hose, I’m not wasting water by watering areas where plants are not located; and I’m also minimizing evaporation with the use of straw mulch.

  9. I just started to grow peppers about 4 months ago. I have a small problem. I am growing them indoors under grow lights. The small pepper plants struggle a bit beacause when I water them the water goes to the bottom as it should, but the roots of the plants is not big enough to reach the moist soil, so the top dries out but the bottom of the pot is moist. So I need to water it again. Later the soil becomes wet. I have good drainage, but the soil still keep the water. What should I do?

    1. Give the plant time to grow roots deeper before watering again. If the plants begin to wilt, then you have to water, but give them time to go “searching” for the water that is in the lower soil.

  10. You recommend the moisture meter but you don’t recommend any particular values. Thise numbers would be very helpful.

  11. Hello.
    I’m a newbie to growing peppers (Anaheim) and need all kinds of help (my girlfriend says so…lol). Seriously, I live in the very N.E. corner of Washington State. I bought 9 plants off the net, arriving about 8-12″ tall, green, beautiful. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t good for transplanting and I didn’t have my greenhouse finished up, so they sat inside my house, need a window, being watered about every 5-7 days. Finished the greenhouse, grabbed 5gal buckets with (4) 7/16 holes drilled into the bottom and (4) holes drilled about 1.5″ from the bottom up the side. I placed about 4″ of straw into the bottom of all buckets, mixed top soil and garden soil and transplanted them. Added 1tbs of fertilizer and watered. I left them on my covered porch overnight, then placed out in the yard throughout the next day until evening. That evening, I put them into the greenhouse, where they’ve been since. Prior to the transplant, I had some loose a small amount of yellowing leaves. But I see since in the greenhouse, my leaves curl a bit and some leaves are browning. I have had a couple of days with temps around 104° or so but try to keep them at around 80-90° with cooler mornings. But when I check on them in the late afternoon,, the soil seems dry. I stick a couple fingers about 3″ into the soil but doesn’t seem moist. So I water more. But reading your article shows that maybe I need to give the plants a break from watering. I don’t know if deer would eat the plants or not, so I can’t really set them outside. So any advice you have for growing in a greenhouse will be greatly appreciated, whether its about how often to fertilize, water, heat, add humidity,……anything that you feel will help. Looking forward from any advice from your fellow readers as well.

    Thanks, Darrell

    1. @Darrell,

      Hi Darrell, I’m afraid I can’t help with anything re. peppers lol. What I can tell you is that I grow my peppers in a raised bed outside and have deer visiting from time to time. They have never touched my pepper plants. Ever. I hope this helps!

  12. I have a Carolina Reaper Pepper plant(actually 2) in a Grow Box. They are 15 years old because I bring them in to my basement with a grow light. Two years ago. I had to cut them back from 8 foot tall to 4 foot so I could move them. Last year the produced 775 peppers for the season down from my normal of average 200 and a bumper crop the year before I trimmed them of 425 peppers. I think that this year a disease or bugs may have attacked them because it has been a struggle to keep them alive this winter. I need to transplant in another grow box with fresh soil . Hoping that you can give me some pointers . I love everything I make with these peppers. Thanking you in advance.
    Ronnie Lee I had sent you a picture earlier

  13. Hi Calvin

    I live in central California and have a question about water quality used for watering peppers in containers. Our tap water runs about 7.8-8.0 ph. Correct me if I’m wrong, don’t plants thrive best when the soil ph is around 6-6.8? Would using a higher ph water have an effect on the soil ph over time? I do have a RO system for my aquarium and it produces pretty much water in the 6.7-7.0 range for use in my 100 gal tank. It also removes any chemicals that are added to the water system like chlorine. I do have to add some minerals back into the water for the type of fish I keep.
    Would using the RO water or even the waste water that has been through the 3 stage carbon blocks be beneficial to pepper plants in large containers? I would probably have use Cal Mag
    More often though.
    Any thoughts on this? Or am I over thinking water quality?

    Thank youd

    1. Hi Robert, yes water pH can affect soil pH, especially in potted plants. I would probably use the water from your filtration system, or you can collect rain water. You want your water to be slightly acidic or neutral (5.5-7.0 pH).

  14. Hi. First time growing peppers. I am in zone 3. My plants produced some fruit this summer but had more fruit and flowers at the end of the summer when temperature dropped and frost was approaching. I decided to overwinter my plants. Some I have pruned back so they will go dormant. Others I left as they were because of flowers and fruit on the plants. The plants are under 2 different grow lights. Under 1 light the plants have some yellowing and curling of a few leaves . The fruit and flowers are still developing and new leaves are starting. Some wilting occurred. Some fungus gnats are present and are being addressed with sticky straps. The other light has leaves wilting but fruit is still developing. Any suggestions are appreciated. Also under the 2nd light I have 2 dwarf tomato plants growing leaves and ripening fruit. Thanks

  15. Hi Calvin!

    I have a dozen or so hot pepper varieties in 8″ to 12″ pots. I keep them all indoors near a window and with supplementary light overhead (full spectrum and red/blue). My soil is miracle grow organics with added perlite, vermiculite, and worm castings. I’ve been watering about 1/2 a cup once a week from the top. My soil feels wet long after I water, but I’m still seeing some browning on my leaf edges. Should I water more often? Smaller volumes more often? Higher volumes once a week? I ordered some of the plants online and I think they’ve been struggling to rebound from shipping stress.

    Thanks! I’m a big fan of your content, btw!

    1. Thank you! So, it could be nutrient burn rather than overwatering. Are you adding fertilizer? If so I would reduce the amount/frequency and see if new foliage improves.

      1. I gave them a dose of fish fertilizer because I saw a yellowing on the tips of some leaves before I added any kind of nutrients, so I was worried they had a deficiency. It was weakly concentrated, but I may have given them a higher volume than they needed. I’ll ease up- thanks a bunch!

  16. My jalapeno pepper plant in a raised garden bed has very sparse brittle leaves with some brown areas. I thought that the excess rain may be damaging it but all the other plants including a serrano pepper plant are thriving. is it the wster or something else?

    1. Hard to know for sure without more context on the planting area, but it could just be suffering more than other varieties. We usually have 1 or 2 plants that seem to do poorly for no good reason while others thrive.

  17. Hi Calvin,
    Just gotten a rocoto pepper plant. It is flowering, and is in a 1 gallon pot.
    Should I put it into a larger 5 gal pot now or wait til, hopefully fruiting is done?
    Thanks.

    1. Hi Meg,

      You can move the plant to a larger pot at any time, but you run the risk of the plant dropping flowers.

      The good new is that, as long as there is enough time left in the warm season, the plant will likely just flower again after a few weeks.

      With rocoto peppers, they are typically very slow to flower and set fruit, so keep this in mind.

      Good luck
      -Calvin

  18. Hi, my jalapeños is 12inches high already. My inquires are:
    1) Should I needed to transplant on bigger pot for the final destination?
    2) the leaves are wilted while in the sun.. (my balcony) .. WHAT to do? Is it normal?
    Many thanks

    1. Hi there,

      We recommend moving jalapeños to a minimum 3 gallon pot for the best harvest. Smaller is okay, but you will get less peppers.

      Wilting is also normal on hot days, and especially when plants are young and tender – they should adjust quickly and stop wilting. Wilting is also a sign of a dry plant.

      Hope this helps!
      -Calvin

  19. Hello Calvin(Pepper Geek) have noted that after my capsicum plants has produced first 3 fruits the new flower buds turn yellow and drops rapidly… What is the solution? Thanks.

    1. Hi Elisha,

      What size pots are your pepper plants in? They should be somewhat large (3-5 gallons+). If the pot is too small to support the plant, you will get reduced yield.

      Try not to overwater, this can cause a blossom drop for peppers as well.

      As for fertilizing, keep to the recommended regimen on the product packaging. Overfertilizing is just as bad as underfertilizing! When peppers begin to produce, the plants will not need as much nitrogen.

      For some more insight, check out these articles on our site:

      https://peppergeek.com/pinching-off-pepper-plant-flowers/#pepper-flowers-falling-off
      https://peppergeek.com/increase-pepper-plant-yield/

      Hope this helps, and good luck!
      -Calvin

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