The Poblano Pepper Planting Guide: A To Zing

Subtle sizzle in the garden…

Looking for a little pop beyond the bell pepper? Poblano peppers are a delicious gardening option. Their heat level is more sizzle than scorching, measuring half the heat of the mildest jalapeño pepper. It’s very family-friendly, and an excellent chili for stuffed pepper recipes. Let’s jump into what you need to know when growing poblano peppers in your garden. 

Poblano pepper planting fast facts:

Scoville heat units:
Poblano peppers have a 1,000-1,500 SHU rating on the Scoville scale.

PepperScale profile:

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Light requirements:
These pepper plants need full sun.

Soil requirements:
Provide seedlings with well-drained, lightweight soil that contains ample organic material.

Space requirements:
Place poblano pepper seedlings 12 inches apart; if you are planting in rows, the rows should be 24 inches apart.

Water requirements:
Water regularly enough to keep soil damp but not oversaturated.

You should be able to harvest poblano peppers approximately 65 days after planting.

Plant Size:
A mature poblano pepper plant is usually about 2 1/2 feet tall but they can grow as tall as 5 feet.

Chili size:
Poblanos are approximately 4 inches long and two inches wide.

You can grow poblano peppers in containers; the containers should be no smaller than 1-gallon size.

The site and season: Where and when to grow poblano pepper

Transplant pepper seedlings when your soil temperatures have stabilized above the 50 degree mark. Ideally, your nighttime temperatures should be over 60 but below 75 degrees. There should be no danger of frost. The soil into which you transplant your poblano peppers should have a pH somewhere in the 5.5-7.0 range. Avoid soil that you have used to grow tomatoes, potatoes or other members of the nightshade family within the last few years. Place your seedlings 12-24 inches apart. This allows for a little contact but prevents them from crowding each other.

Feeding and watering poblano pepper plants: How often and how much

Water the plants early in the day and provide enough water that the soil stays moist at all times without getting muddy. An inch per week should be sufficient. Both the soil and any wet leaves should be dry again by the evening. Your fertilizer should be high in potassium, calcium and phosphorous but low in nitrogen. Nitrogen improves foliage but may reduce fruit production. Consider testing your soil to determine exactly what type of fertilizer you need. Bear in mind that the more water and fertilizer you give to poblano peppers, the less hot they are likely to be. If you want hotter peppers, keep watering and fertilizing to a minimum.

Poblano pepper harvesting: When to pick

You can pick poblano peppers when they are green or you can wait for them to ripen on the plant. Note that if you harvest peppers early, the plant will produce blossoms more frequently; however, you will want your poblanos to turn red if you plan to dry them. When dried, poblano peppers are known as ancho chilis. As with all peppers, you will want to cut the fruit from the plant with scissors or shears when harvesting. This is preferable to pulling them off, which can damage the delicate branches.

Poblano pepper plant care: What to watch out for

Because poblano peppers have thick walls that make them heavier than other peppers, the plants may need staking. Staking can help your plants to produce fruit earlier and to produce more fruit than they would without stakes.

Be on the lookout for pests like aphids and hornworms. While poblanos are resistant to pests, these can still be problematic. You can get rid of them with insecticidal soap or simply by spraying them off the plant with water from a hose.

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

I planted two starts in the spring labeled “poblano peppers”. They are now ready for harvest but they don’t look like poblanos at all. They are only around 2-inches long and the stem attaches to a rounded top, unlike the poblanos that the stem attaches to an inward-curved top.

Is there a “dwarf” plant? Any idea what I have…because I’m now not sure what to do with them?


can you eat the leaves of poblano pepper?