The Jalapeño Planting Guide: A To Zing

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With their very eatable medium heat and grassy, bright flavor, jalapeños are  a culinary staple across the world. Growing jalapeños yourself can supply you with plenty of delicious heat all season long. These chilies perform well not only in gardens, but also in containers, so roll up your sleeves and let’s get planting. Our jalapeño planting guide covers what you need to know.

Jalapeño planting fast facts:

Heat rating: 2,500 – 8,000 Scoville heat units

PepperScale profile:

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Light requirements: Jalapeño seedlings should get up to 16 hours of sunlight each day.

Soil requirements: Jalapeño plants grow best in well-drained soil that that is rich in nutrients. Adding compost to the soil can improve drainage and aeration while providing organic matter.

Space requirements: Jalapeño plants can get leaf diseases if there is insufficient room around them for air to circulate. Plants should have at least a foot of space on all sides.

Water requirements: Jalapeño plants need lots of water. You should keep the soil very moist at all times. Note that dry soil can give the fruits a bitter flavor; however, you should also avoid over-saturating the soil as this could cause fungal diseases and root rot.

Maturation: Jalapeños should be ready for harvesting approximately four months after planting. The fruits will start out a bright green before darkening and then turning red when they ripen.

Plant size: When fully matured, jalapeño plants are approximately 3 feet high.

Chili size: Ripe jalapeños are typically 4 to 6 inches long.

Container-friendly: It is possible to grow jalapeños in containers. A mature plant will need a 2-gallon container or larger.

Where and when to grow jalapeños

Temperature is one of the most important factors in jalapeño cultivation. The plants will not thrive at temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, and they will die if the temperature falls to 32 degrees. Experts recommend waiting at least two weeks after the last frost to transplant seedlings as even a light frost can kill them. The ideal temperature for transplantation is above 65 degrees but below 90. Temperatures that are consistently above 90 will not kill the plants but may cause them to stop producing fruit.

Feeding and watering jalapeño plants

Give your jalapeños roughly an inch of water each week; this ensures that the soil is moist but not too saturated.

Jalapeño plants will usually not require fertilizer unless they are in containers; however, you may want to fertilize a plant if the fruits are undersized. Avoid over-fertilizing as this can kill the plant. Check leaves for fertilizer burn in order to determine whether you are over-fertilizing.

For plants in containers, start fertilizing as soon as you see the first set of true leaves. Well-rotted manure, seaweed extract and fish emulsion are all effective fertilizers. Apply fertilizer every third watering.

When to pick jalapeños

The right time to harvest jalapeños is when they are firm and the color is solid. This will occur about three to four months after planting. Harvest by using pruning shears or a knife to cut the stem. Trying to pull the fruits off the tree can cause branches to break. Harvest any remaining peppers before the first frost hits in late fall.

Caring for your jalapeño plant: Potential issues

Jalapeños may require support. Like many peppers, they have shallow roots and narrow branches. When the branches are loaded with fruit, it may be necessary to use stakes or cages to keep the plants upright.

Insect pests are typically not a problem for these plants; however, they can still become infested on occasion. The pests that attack jalapeños include aphids, flea beetles and whiteflies. The combination of regular inspection, manual removal of the pests and washing with soapy water will usually be enough to eliminate the infestation.

The diseases that can affect your jalapeño plants include fungal diseases like southern blight and powdery mildew. You can prevent these diseases by not over-watering your jalapenos as excessive moisture provides the ideal environment for the growth of fungi.

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