Both bell and chili peppers encompass pepper varieties that are meant to be harvested or eaten when green and are referred to as such. Several factors influence the successful cultivation of peppers, including multiple soil-related considerations. When growing peppers, soil type and structure, available moisture, pH and other characteristics should all be taken into account.
The ideal soil type for pepper cultivation is a well-drained sandy loam. However, peppers can grow satisfactorily in other soil types as long as moisture is consistently adequate and the soil drains well. To ensure a consistent water supply, the soil should have a moderate to high organic matter content. Peppers prefer a loose soil with medium-rich fertility.
Soil Moisture and Irrigation
A uniform supply of water is necessary for successful pepper growing, so an ample amount of organic matter, which retains moisture and makes it available to plant roots, is required. Supplemental irrigation may be a necessity during periods of drought. Dry soil, particularly if coupled with heat or wind, can prevent fruit set or cause fruit abortion.
The ideal soil pH range for pepper growing is 6.0 to 6.5, but peppers typically tolerate a soil pH as low as 5.5 and as high as 7.5. If the pH is outside of the ideal range, the plant is unable to efficiently absorb soil nutrients or added fertilizer nutrients. Conduct a pH test to determine if pH is an issue and make necessary amendment. Amending the soil typically involves adding a calculated quantity of lime if the soil is too acidic or sulfur if it is too alkaline.
Soil Temperature Considerations
Peppers, as warm-season plants of tropical origin, are sensitive to cold soil and air temperatures. If cool spring temperatures are a concern in the region, use raised beds, floating row covers or black plastic mulch to warm the soil.
Proper crop rotation practices decrease the risk of infection by several different pathogens or a nematode infestation that persist in the soil. Do not plant peppers in a soil location that hosted tobacco, cotton, eggplants, Irish potatoes or other peppers within the previous two growing seasons.
- University of Illinois Extension: Peppers
- North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service; Pepper Production (Bell, Small Fruit, and Pimento); Douglas C. Sanders, et al.; November 1998
- University of Minnesota Extension; Growing Tomatoes, Peppers, and Eggplant in Minnesota Home Gardens; Cindy Tong; 2009
- Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service; Pepper Production; J.E. Motes, et al.
- West Virginia University Extension Service; Growing Peppers; N. Carl Hardin, et al.
- Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images
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