As a gardener, growing peppers can be immensely satisfying and rewarding, especially when it comes to harvest time. But growing an optimum yield requires the right planting preparation. So I’m going to talk about how far apart to plant peppers and chilies to get the best results.
For peppers to thrive and grow to their full potential, the plants require adequate room to develop and each variety has specific requirements. Getting the spacing right at the planting stage can be the difference between leggy growth and a low crop yield, compared to a bumper harvest and prize-winning fruits of your labor.
In this article, I have prepared a list of the most popular pepper types, together with details of how much room they need to grow so you can achieve the very best results when you grow them for yourself!
- Spacing For Pepper And Chili Plants
- How Far Apart To Plant Peppers
- Can You Plant Two Pepper Plants Together?
- Growing Peppers In Containers
- Growing Peppers And Chilies Indoors
- Pepper Companion Planting
Spacing For Pepper And Chili Plants
As we know, peppers need to be spaced appropriately to prevent them from competing against one another for light and root space. Overcrowded planting can lead to depletion of nutrients in the soil, lower exposure to sunlight, and restricted airflow, which can hinder their development and lead to problems with pests and disease.
There are a few tried and tested ways to accomplish optimal plant spacing. Here are the two popular methods that are simple and effective when used in conjunction with the spacing guidelines provided below for each pepper plant variety.
Option 1: Rows are a more conventional way of spacing plants of all varieties. Long straight rows of plants so the row itself can be positioned to get the maximum daylight sun.
The ideal situation is that you have enough spacing between each plant to allow for the plant to flourish with optimum sunlight, airflow, and nutrition available in the ground. However, this method requires spacing to be left between each row. This gap is often up to three times the distances of the spacing within the row itself. So it uses a lot of space.
If you have an allotment or garden, will plenty of room then this method can be an effective way of using your space and getting the optimum crop from each plant. It is also great if you prefer to use very long single rows, with smaller vegetable crops growing at the front of the plot, for example, garlic or onions which make great companion plants for peppers.
I’ll be discussing exactly how much room to leave between each plant variety later in this article.
Option 2: Blocks are better for those of us who have limited space. When planting in blocks it can produce a better overall yield per square foot. In fact, I sometimes plant my peppers within a square foot garden and still manage a handsome crop.
The idea with blocks is that you plant a single plant in a square and group them as you would group corn. Where there is no gap between the rows. This is a great way of growing when you are limiting the number of plants you are growing so that you can get access to all of the plants within a single block without the need for a row to walk along and tend to each plant.
For this type of planting, I would recommend leaving 16-20″ spacing per plant in each direction. Each plant will produce less fruit, but you will still get a good crop overall per square foot of space. With the 16-20″ spacing you can grow up to 9 plants in a 4×4′ bed.
How Deep Do Pepper Roots Grow?
Pepper plant roots like to extend out and expand. The roots of some of the larger pepper plants can grow 18 to 24 inches deep in pots. When planted in the ground, they can continue to grow as deep as 3 feet or more.
If you are planting your pepper plants in pots or containers, make sure the diameter is at least 12 inches. Peppers do not like to be root bound. This will cause their growth to slow.
Average Pepper Plant Size
With the right light, temperature, and sufficient water a healthy pepper plant will average between 3 to 5 feet in height and about 18 to 24 inches across. And, as mentioned above this is very much dependent upon the variety of plants.
For peppers and chili plants to grow to their full potential they need conditions that are akin to their native home in Central or South America and Asia. Hot, humid, and even a little drought from underwatering suits them best.
You’ll need to check moisture levels in the soil every few days and only water if the top 2 inches of soil are dry. Avoid overwatering or always allow excess water to drain from pots.
Another way to ensure your plants max out on size is to ensure they have well-draining, slightly acidic soil with a pH range of 6.0 to 7.0. If you are unsure of your soil’s pH levels, you can purchase a soil test kit from your local home and garden store.
How Far Apart To Plant Peppers
Overcrowding needs to be avoided as this can result in poor air circulation, which can lead to fungal illnesses and poor drainage in the soil.
In addition, pepper and chili plants that do not have enough room to grow will suffer stunted growth, poor crop yield, and general poor health since plants will be competing for light, space, and nutrients.
I would always recommend growing seeds in trays or pots before planting your pepper plants in their final growing position. Once the plants begin to mature apply a good quality fertilizer for peppers to encourage healthy fruit.
Below are the spacing requirements for some of the most popular varieties of pepper.
Bell Pepper Plant Spacing
These are the biggest pepper plants and they require the most space. Space them at least 18 inches apart in rows 30-36 inches apart.
Even though these plants are usually slim, the root system can be rather extensive, necessitating a little more room. The plant’s leaves are large, and the plant can grow up to 3 feet tall. As a result, spacing them out can assist in preventing overlapping and overcrowding your garden.
Jalapeño Plant Spacing
Jalapeño peppers do not require as much space as bell peppers. Therefore you can plant the jalapeños 14-18 inches apart with 24-36 inches between rows.
Habanero Plant Spacing
If you’re growing habanero peppers outside, space them 14-18 inches apart, with around 24-36 inches between rows. Under ideal conditions, the plants will reach 4 feet in height.
Habanero seeds should be started indoors and then moved outside as the soil warms up unless you live somewhere really hot. Once your seedlings have matured and the last threat of frost has passed, they can be transplanted to their outside location.
Cayenne Plant Spacing
To begin with, sow cayenne seeds at least 2 to 3 inches apart. Once they are big enough to be transplanted, plant them about 16-20 inches apart with 36 inches between rows. Always wait until the soil has warmed up a couple of weeks after the last frost.
Can You Plant Two Pepper Plants Together?
The simple answer here is yes. However, peppers grow well when planted alone because they’re self-pollinating and, therefore, don’t need another plant to flower.
If you are doubling up on pots, make sure that the two seeds are not planted too close together as this can cause stems to become injured. Use my guide above for details of the recommended seed spacing.
Risk of Planting Peppers Too Close
This is a common mistake among gardeners that can lead to pepper and chili plants suffering from poor health and not growing to their full potential. These plants need sufficient space to avoid root crowding, competition for light leading to leggy growth, competition for available nutrients leading to low crop output, and of course damaged plants from contact with one. Two plants together will also increase the risk of pests and disease.
Growing Peppers In Containers
If you don’t have space in your yard to grow your own produce in a designated plot, peppers and chilies make great options for growing in containers and pots. Keep in mind that you will need at least 12-inch diameter-sized pots for each plant.
The young peppers may appear to be too little for the pot at first, but they will eventually fill it. Be sure to purchase a pot with a hole in the bottom for proper drainage.
A common problem with peppers grown in containers is leggy seedlings. This is most often caused by insufficient light. To avoid this problem, place it on a bright window ledge or patio that gets as much sun as possible throughout the day. Alternatively, use a grow lamp to lengthen the hours of light exposure.
Pepper Plant Spacing In Raised Beds
According to the University of Minnesota, when planting in a raised bed, the distance between peppers should be between 10 and 15 inches apart. You may even consider adding more space to make harvesting peppers easier later.
The main advantage of planting vegetables in raised beds is they help the soil to warm up faster ready for planting in the spring.
When erecting raised beds, chances are the soil will need ‘topping up’ to get to the required level. This is a great way to add nutrients to and improve aeration in the soil before planting begins. Use a combination of compost, manure, and mulch combining it well with the existing soil.
Another advantage of raised beds is they typically allow for better drainage.
Square Foot Garden Pepper Spacing
Square foot gardening is a great alternative if you’re new to gardening or have little yard space. This method allows you to grow a lot of produce in a small area and spend less time wrestling weeds. I am a big fan of this method of growing as it is low-maintenance and most vegetables will grow well using this method, other than brassicas which prefer solid, hard, ideally clay ground.
Peppers require 16-20-inch spacing in each direction. Also try out squash, beans, and peas are also good candidates for this style of growing.
Growing Peppers And Chilies Indoors
If none of these solutions work for you, then why not grow them indoors? This might be the case for those who don’t have the right climate for growing vegetables outdoors.
While peppers cultivated indoors will not grow to the same size as those grown outside, they can still pack a punch. Chiltepins, habaneros, and Thai peppers are the best to cultivate inside.
Pot Size For Pepper Plants
It may be tempting to plant your seeds in a smaller pot, refrain from doing this! Pot size depends on the size of the fully grown plant. It’s better to use a pot that is considered too big rather than planting in one too small that may constrict growth.
It’s best to place the seeds in a 5-gallon pot with a diameter of 12 inches so that they have plenty of room to flourish. For smaller peppers, your pot should be at least 3 gallons.
Pepper Companion Planting
When two plants are cultivated close together for the benefit of one or both of them, this is known as companion planting. As a result, the benefit could be one-sided or mutual. Companion planting deters pests, attracts pollinating insects, aids in locking in moisture, provides natural support, and improves soil fertility.
Continue reading to see which plants are the best companion plants for peppers!
Herbs are wonderful companion plants. Basil protects your peppers from thrips, flies, mosquitoes, and any other pests that might consume your plant.
Tomatoes ward off nematodes and insects within the soil and keep your peppers safe from pests. If you grow peppers and tomatoes together in the same garden, rotate them every other season to avoid root-based pathogens from thriving.
Chives are another great companion herb to pair with your peppers. Their strong fragrance helps deter flies and decrease gray mold and mildew. They can also survive colder temperatures so you don’t have to worry about them surviving.
Garlic makes a great companion plant due to its antiseptic properties and fungal deterrence. You won’t have to worry about your peppers growing fungus.
Rosemary is a tough plant that helps to keep the soil moist for longer periods of time. To help keep the pepper plants moist, gardeners will use rosemary as ground cover.