The Banana Pepper Planting Guide: A To Zing

Growing the perfect sandwich pepper…

When you want just a little simmer of heat for your sandwich or salad, the banana pepper delivers like few other chilies. Its low heat and delicious flavor (fresh and pickled) make it a favorite for not only chiliheads, but foodies of all spice tolerance levels. And for those with even basic gardening skills, growing banana peppers is more than possible. Review our banana pepper planting guide to help you have this delicious chili at the ready all year long.

Banana pepper growing fast facts

Scoville heat units: The most common variety of banana pepper measures between 0 and 500 Scoville heat units (SHU); however, there are hotter cultivars that can measure as much as 4,000 SHU.

PepperScale profile:

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Light requirements: Banana peppers need full sun, which means no less than 8 hours of sunlight each day.

Soil requirements: Soil for banana peppers will need to be loose and well drained; it should be rich in nutrients and have a pH of between 6.2 and 7.0.

Space requirements: Peppers should be planted at least 12 inches away from neighboring plants.

Water requirements: Banana peppers do well in soil that is moist but not muddy.

Maturation: The peppers will turn from green to a light yellow or red when they are ready for harvest, which is usually within 60 to 75 days depending on the cultivar.

Plant size: The plants can grow to between 1 and 2 feet tall.

Chili size: Banana peppers are typically between 2 and 3 inches long.

Container-friendly: Banana peppers can be grown in containers and will require pots that are at least 12 inches deep and no less than 18 inches in diameter.

Where and when to grow banana peppers

Banana pepper seeds take about 14 days to germinate. Transplant pepper seedlings 40 days after germination. Wait until well after the last frost before moving seedlings outdoors. Note that even a light frost can cause serious damage. Soil temperatures should be at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit in the daytime and above 60 degrees at night. Transplant them into soil that has been enriched with compost. Note that while banana peppers prefer hot weather, temperatures above 90 degrees can cause them to lose blossoms. Losing blossoms causes the plants to produce fewer fruit. You should plant sweet and hot varieties as far from each other as possible to prevent cross-pollination.

Feeding and watering banana peppers

The soil should be kept consistently moist. A soaker hose is useful for providing consistency when watering. Use mulch after transplanting to help the soil retain moisture and to keep weeds from sprouting. Once peppers start to develop, use a fertilizer that is rich in phosphorous and potassium. Note that fertilizers with a high nitrogen content can increase foliage but are not beneficial for producing fruit. When fertilizing your banana peppers, use the side dressing method. Side dressing is the application of fertilizer to the soil around the plant. Spray your plants with a solution of Epsom salts and water occasionally if your soil is magnesium deficient.

Harvesting banana peppers

Pick banana peppers regularly as this will encourage the plant to keep producing. Use a sharp knife or scissors to cut stems rather than pulling peppers from the plant. Simply pulling peppers off can damage branches.

Banana pepper plant care

Banana peppers can sometimes fall prey to aphid infestations. You can get rid of aphids with insecticidal soap or by spraying them off with a hose. Manually remove any beetles or caterpillars.

Avoid blossom end rot by watering your pepper plants consistently; a soaker hose can help with this. Note that a soaker hose can also help to prevent fungal and bacterial diseases that arise because of over watering and overhead watering.

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on September 5, 2019 to include new content.
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