How Much Space Do Peppers Need To Grow & Growing Tips

How Much Space Do Peppers Need To Grow & Growing Tips

Whether you want to grow bell peppers or sweet peppers like I do, or you’re excited to grow a variety of hot peppers or chilli peppers, you’ll want to know the answer to the question “How much space do peppers need to grow?”

As a general guide, peppers should have an optimum spacing of around 18 inches (45 cm) between individual plants. However, this may vary depending on the variety that you’re growing. 

This spacing is generally recommended for a range of larger varieties as this will give them enough space to grow and you’ll get the best results. However, there are also smaller and even dwarf varieties that you can grow closer together.

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Knowing this will give you an idea of how many pepper plants you can fit in your allotted home garden bed. On the other hand, if you’re growing in a small space such as a balcony or a patio, it’s useful to know how many plants you can fit into your available space.

Why Is Spacing Important When Growing Peppers?

sweet bell peppers

There are various advantages to ensuring that your peppers are spaced correctly. Here are the most crucial ones:

  • Correct spacing will allow for adequate airflow around your plants. This will prevent fungal diseases from attacking your plants and wiping out your crop.
  • Spacing your plants too far apart is a waste of valuable garden space.
  • Proper spacing will also allow your plants to provide some wind and sun protection for each other. In turn, this will protect the developing fruit from sunburn.
  • If plants are grown too close together, their roots may compete for water and nutrients so growth will be reduced.

Now that you understand why spacing between plants is important, let’s have a look at the different varieties and the variables when it comes to the spacing between plants.

Optimum Spacing For Different Pepper Varieties

hot chilli peppers

Here’s a handy table that shows the right spacing for the different varieties of peppers that you might want to grow.

Pepper VarietyOptimum Spacing
Sweet Bell Pepper Plants24 inches (60 cm)
Dwarf or Patio Peppers12 inches (30 cm)
Jalapeno Peppers24 inches (60 cm)
Habanero Peppers30 inches (75 cm)
Anaheim Peppers24 inches (60 cm)
Cayenne Pepper24 inches (60 cm)
Banana Peppers18 inches (45 cm)
Bullhorn Peppers18 inches (45 cm)
Serrano Peppers30 inches (75 cm)
Caribbean Peppers30 inches (75 cm)

This table represents the optimum spacing for pepper plants grown in the garden and in rows in the soil. What I generally find though is that with plants like peppers, I prefer to stagger the plantings so that I can use the available space more effectively. This is important if you’re growing your vegetables in a raised bed. 

However, if you’re growing peppers in pots, it’s a little easier because you can move the pots around as your plants grow. 

The Ultimate Guide To Growing Peppers In Pots

pepper plants in terracotta pots

When growing any variety of pepper plants in pots, I like to grow only one plant in each pot. This gives each plant and its roots ample room to grow.

For peppers, you want to choose larger containers that are relatively deep to accommodate the deep root system of these plants. I would choose a pot that is at least 12 inches (30 cm) deep. Ideally, your chosen pot should also be of a similar diameter. 

When you first plant up your pepper seedlings, you can place the pots close together. But, as the young plants start to grow and spread, it’s a good idea to move them further apart so that there is a small space between the plant canopies for adequate airflow.

This is an added advantage of growing in pots because your plants are much more portable and you can move their location as often as needed.

Most importantly, make sure that you use a premium potting mix and water the pots regularly to ensure that the soil stays moist but not wet. For this, you need to ensure that your pots have adequate drainage holes to provide good drainage.

Peppers grown in pots will also need additional fertiliser. You can either opt for a slow-release pellet-type fertiliser high in potassium or use a liquid fertiliser instead. If using a liquid feed, make sure that you apply this around once a week for optimum fruiting.

Use Plant Labels As A Guide To Proper Pepper Spacing

There’s a reason that the plants that you purchase at a nursery or garden centre come with their own labels. These are not just designed to identify the plants that you want to purchase. They also have some important growing information to help gardeners have greater success.

Here’s a plant label I took from a pepper plant that I purchased recently and planted in one of my garden beds. As you may or may not know, sweet peppers are commonly referred to as capsicum in different parts of the world. 

plant label showing all the information it has including how much space do peppers need to grow

As you can see, there’s lots of useful information on this label that can help you when selecting the right location and optimum spacing for your plants. There’s even some harvesting information as well as ideal companion plants. 

A lot of time, effort and research has generally gone into producing these labels, so make sure that you read them if you’re ever in doubt as to how to provide your plants with what they need.

You’ll find that seed packets for pepper seeds will have similar information as well as the time of year that they should be planted or their optimum growing season. 

Even though I’m an experienced gardener and horticulturist, I still often refer to plant labels to get the information that I want. There are so many different varieties of plants on this planet that just one person can’t have all the knowledge required.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do pepper plants like to be crowded?

No, while pepper plants can be grown relatively close together, they should still be given ample space between plants to facilitate good airflow and avoid pest and disease problems.

Can peppers grow in small pots?

While many varieties of pepper plants need a decent-sized container to grow well, some smaller varieties are available that are perfectly suitable for small containers. 

Should you grow sweet and hot peppers next to each other?

No, as peppers are grown for their fruit, they will attract pollinators such as bees to your garden. The bees will fly from one plant to another and spread the pollen between plants. This may result in some cross-pollination and you might find that your sweet peppers gain some heat.

​Should peppers be grown in full sun?

Yes, as they are fruiting plants, peppers need full sun to grow and fruit well.

Do pepper plants need staking?

Some pepper plants can grow quite tall and once the fruit starts to form, the stems can easily bend under the weight. In this case, it’s a good idea to provide a single stake for support to prevent the stem from breaking.

Do peppers grow better in pots or in the ground?

As long as you provide your plants with plenty of sunshine, water and fertiliser, peppers will grow easily as well in pots as in the ground.

Do peppers need deep pots?

Yes, peppers have quite an extensive root system so you should grow them in deep pots. Select pots that are at least 12 inches (30 cm) deep or even deeper if possible.

When is the best time to plant peppers?

Peppers are warm-season crops and you should plant them after the last frost date in your region. The soil temperature should be warm enough to encourage good root growth. 

Are peppers annuals or perennials?

This will depend on where you live. If you experience cold winters, then you will need to pull out your plants at the end of the season and replant them again the following year. However, gardeners in regions with mild winters may be able to grow peppers all year round. These plants don’t really like cold temperatures and will suffer damage if exposed to frost.

How much water do peppers need?

Peppers appreciate decent soil moisture to flower and fruit well. I like to use soaker hoses in my vegetable garden as I find that this is the best way to give my plants the water that they need. Not only will this help you grow sturdy plants but you’ll also end up with lots of pepper fruits. 

Final Thoughts

Whether you prefer sweet bell peppers or hot chili peppers, they are easy to grow and make a great addition to your vegetable or balcony garden. But, for your plants to thrive, you need to give them enough room and ensure that you follow the guidelines for proper pepper plant spacing.

Ideally, pepper plants in home gardens should be spaced around 18 inches (45 cm) apart but this can vary depending on the variety that you’re growing. As a handy guide, make sure that you check the plant label or seed packet to get an idea of the optimal spacing for your plants.

For balcony gardens, you should grow peppers in larger pots and you can place these closer together in the beginning. Then, you can space them further apart once the plants start to grow.

If you follow these general guidelines, you should have healthy, thriving productive plants that will provide you with a good harvest in summer and autumn or fall. 

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