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How Often To Water Pepper Plants – Pepper Watering Tips

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 in a raised bed?
  • What is the average mid-day temperature?
  • Is the growing container small or large?
  • Is the pepper plant young or fully developed?
  • How about the airflow or 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 5 gallon planter pot will take much longer to dry out than a 1 gallon sized pot. If you’re unsure, use a cheap moisture meter like this one on Amazon to get an instant read on the soil’s moisture level.

Tip: 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 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.

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 (or your grow lights) burning your pepper leaves.

When beads of water sit on a leaf’s surface, it becomes a magnifier through which sunlight becomes concentrated. It’s the same concept of using a magnifying glass to burn paper. The concentrated light becomes significantly hotter and can burn holes in your pepper plant’s leaves. No good!

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, you can dab it dry with a towel to avoid the leaves scalding in the light.


Water 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.

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 will not be able to release water, and the soil will 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 plate 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. 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 the plant can uptake 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 3 major components to common garden soil: Sand, silt, and clay. 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 percentage of clay should be around 5-10%.

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 10-15%.

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 higher in peat moss or coir and lower in loam.

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!


How Water Pepper Plants While On Vacation

It might sound ridiculous to pay someone to come and take care of watering your pepper plants while you’re away on vacation. 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 An Automatic 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 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 Raised 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 understand when to water and when not to water your pepper plants. Watering pepper plants 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, Pepper Geeks, 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.

Darrell

Tuesday 7th of June 2022

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

Mags

Wednesday 15th of June 2022

@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!

ronnie

Sunday 1st of May 2022

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

Robert

Sunday 12th of December 2021

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

peppergeek

Sunday 12th of December 2021

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).

Rob DeGroot

Sunday 31st of October 2021

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

Molly

Monday 21st of June 2021

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!

peppergeek

Tuesday 22nd of June 2021

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.