Sometimes, your pepper plants end up a bit top-heavy. We recommend early pruning to help avoid tall, lanky pepper plants. However, if you find yourself with a leaning plant, staking pepper plants is a great option.
Most pepper plants don’t grow much taller than 2-3 feet in a single season. The important factor is where the plant’s weight is distributed. If most of the leaves and flowers form at the top of the plant, it can have a tendency to lean. This is where staking can be highly beneficial to the health and aesthetics of your garden.
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By providing a standalone support, your pepper plants will stay upright, allowing for better airflow and easier harvesting. Staking your peppers will also keep the plants from falling over or breaking, and inviting soil-borne disease.
In this article, we’ll share our best tips for staking pepper plants the right way.
What Is Staking?
Staking involves providing your plant with the support of an upright object, usually a sturdy piece of wood or plastic. Many gardeners will stake pepper plants early to ensure the plants are supported from day one.
Peppers are not always in need of support, as they don’t grow very tall. However, some varieties may require staking. Depending on the plant’s early growing conditions, you may end up with a taller pepper plant that needs to be staked.
What To Use For Staking Peppers
We have seen some seriously creative methods of staking plants. From a simple wooden stake to a complex trellis for climbing plant varieties.
For peppers, the stake doesn’t have to be fancy. It should be sturdy enough to support your peppers in windy conditions, but doesn’t need to be overly thick. Here are some items we recommend using to stake your peppers.
Since peppers are not generally huge plants, you can get away with staking with a slightly slimmer material. We have had success using bamboo skewers for small plants. In a similar vein, you can use wooden marshmallow roasting sticks to stake your pepper plants.
We like these long, wooden skewers with pointed ends.
Note: One benefit of these are their thin nature. They are typically no more than a half centimeter wide, and pointed at the end. Great for seamlessly sliding through the soil without disturbing the roots.
These can be found at local nurseries or home improvement stores. You can also get a variety of options online on Amazon or Home Depot. They are cheap, reusable, and made specifically for this purpose.
Note: Thick wooden stakes may disrupt your plant’s root system. Try to use the thinnest stake possible.
Fallen Tree Branches
If you want a rustic garden look, or simply couldn’t be bothered to spend money on stakes, find some straight, recently fallen tree branches. Just make sure they still have some moisture and will not snap halfway through the season.
Though these will probably not be reusable for next season, you’ll have no trouble finding fresh branches each season!
Tip: Sharpen the end of the tree branches before staking. This will allow the branch to slide between the root system more easily.
How To Stake Peppers
The process of staking is simple, but there are a few important steps to take. You want to avoid disturbing your pepper plant’s root system in the process.
Cost: $5-10 USD (Free if you’re crafty)
Steps For Staking Peppers:
- Determine Which Way Your Plant Leans.
If your pepper plant is leaning to the right, you will want to insert your stake on the left side of the plant’s base. This is because the stake will do a better job pulling the plant up than pushing it. If your plants are not yet leaning, you can skip this step.
- Insert Stake At The Base Of The Plant.
After determining where to place it, in one fluid motion, insert your stake at the base of your pepper plant, about 1-2 inches from the base of the stem. Push it down at least 6 inches until the stake is sturdy. If you are growing peppers in pots, you can likely go all the way to the bottom of the container (as long as your stakes are long enough).
- Tether The Plant To The Stake.
Using Velcro, zip ties, twist ties or string, loosely tether the plant to the stake. If your plant is leaning, gently pull it toward the stake and fasten the main stem to the stake, about halfway up the plant. Leave some room to allow for growth.
Tip: Secure the plant just above a node on the main stem to ensure the tie won’t move as the plant continues to grow.
After you have successfully staked your pepper plants, you should check on them after a day or two to ensure the tie is holding. Also, give the stake a little movement test to ensure it is sturdy.
Tip: If your stakes are tall enough, you can dual-purpose them into garden pest deterrents. Just tie some tin pie pans (or something else shiny) from the top – they will blow around in the wind, making noise and reflecting light.
Can I Use a Tomato Cage for Staking Peppers?
While tomato cages are technically a form of stake, they are excessively tall for use with pepper plants. Most peppers will not even reach the top of a tomato cage, and will benefit more from a single, central stake.
However, if you have extra tomato cages lying around, they can certainly be used for pepper plants. The circular rings can be helpful for supporting branches with lots of pepper pods. This is especially true for larger pepper varieties, like bell peppers or poblanos.
Tip: If you have multiple pepper plants close to one another, try using a single tomato cage to stake multiple plants. Simply insert the tomato cage between the pepper plants and tether them on either side of the tomato cage.
Do All Peppers Need Staking?
Though we’ve said it a few times already, no, many pepper plants will fare just fine without staking. It will largely depend on how the plants were treated during early growth. Was there enough light, water, nutrients, etc.?
If you want to avoid staking, read some of our articles on getting your pepper plants off to a strong start here:
Thanks for reading, I hope this helps you stake your pepper plants with ease. Let us know how you go about staking peppers in the comments below!