Growing hot peppers has become increasingly popular in recent years as cayenne, tabasco and chili peppers are essential to ethnic foods that incorporate the peppers' heat and flavors. Hot peppers grow best in places with long, hot and dry summers.
Whether using organic fertilizer, such as dried manure or cottonseed meal, or commercial synthetic fertilizer, the best fertilizer for growing hot peppers is low-nitrogen fertilizer. Therefore, look for fertilizers with a 1-2-2 ratio, or one part nitrogen to two parts each of phosphorus and potassium. Common balanced commercial fertilizers used for hot peppers are 5-10-10 and 8-16-16. In addition, add extra magnesium -- Epsom salt is an effective source -- when plants blossom and again 10 days later.
How to Apply
Apply fertilizer to hot peppers when first transplanted and then add a second application, or side dressing, after the first peppers have set to give plants an extra nutritional boost. Cornell University's Cooperative Extension recommends using a foliar fertilizer, which is fertilizer added to water and then sprayed directly onto foliage, because it is quick-acting versus fertilizer mixed into the ground.
Unless using a foliar fertilizer, fertilizer should not come in contact with hot pepper plants because it will burn them. Fertilizer should be added to soil several inches from the growing plant.
- University of Illinois Extension: Watch Your Garden Grow: Peppers
- University of Minnesota Extension Service: Peppers
- National Gardening Association: Adding More Fertilizer to Peppers
- Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet: Growing Peppers in the Home Garden
- Clemson University Cooperative Extension: Pepper
- Photo Credit Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images
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