Easier than it looks…
Growing cayenne pepper is relatively simple, providing you manage a few variables carefully. Like many peppers, their biggest problems are temperature and water content of the soil. However, care and attention easily keep these problems from becoming your problems and allow for a good harvest.
When to plant cayenne pepper
The first step is determining the proper planting season. Cayenne pepper plants require warm weather since they’re native to southern climates. If you live in a warm area, you can plant them just before the last frost, but in cooler parts of the world, you’ll need to start them out indoors. If you’re lucky enough to have a greenhouse, this changes planting times and limitations, but the basics remain essentially the same. Growing cayenne pepper seedlings indoors allows you to get ahead of the long maturation period for the peppers, especially in northern climates.
Triple S: Soil, spacing, and sunlight
Growing cayenne pepper plants requires well-drained soil with a neutral pH. A low nitrogen level is necessary; too much nitrogen causes the plants to grow more foliage, rather than pepper fruits. They also need a good amount of sunlight, even when indoors, so plant positioning and spacing is critical to the seedling’s survival. Once in their permanent beds, they should be well spaced, two feet between plants and three feet between rows.
Transplanting cayenne seedlings
When transplanting, it might be necessary to use row covers initially, to protect the seedlings from cold snaps. Using fertilizers and other soil modifiers to adjust the nitrogen and nutrient levels of the soil will also improve plant survival. Just remember, transplanting is a shock for seedlings, so minimizing the trauma is your biggest concern.
After you’ve moved them to their permanent garden location, care of the plants is relatively simple, consisting of regular weeding, pest control, and attention to water levels. Weeding and pest management is easy enough since most of it can just be done by hand. Careful watering is more important since wet soil will damage the plants, as will overly dry soil. The appropriate water level for most plants is slightly damp, without being muddy.
When to harvest cayenne pepper
90-100 days after planting, you should be able to harvest your peppers. Simply clip the peppers from the plant gently. Cutting the peppers – instead of pulling them – prevents damage to the plants, which can shorten their useful life. This is important since cayenne pepper is a multi-harvest plant. It will continue to put out new fruits until the first frost of fall.
Get your hands dirty!
Now that you know how to grow cayenne pepper, your garden is waiting! Within a few months, you can have a crop of peppers ready for harvesting and more on the way. Just remember this – moist soil, lots of sun, and give them a head start – and you’ll be good to go.