If you love some pickled peppers for your sandwiches or pizza, growing pepperoncini brings you one step closer to a constant flow of delicious chilies just ready for brining. Pepperoncini barely nudge the dial on the pepper scale, but that doesn’t stop them from being a chili fan favorite. Best of all, pepperoncini planting doesn’t take a ton of space. In fact, it can even be done via window box gardening. Let’s walk you through the steps.
Pepperoncini planting fast facts
Scoville heat units:
Pepperoncini can rate anywhere between 100 and 500 Scoville Heat Units.
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Sandy soil that drains well and that has ample organic matter.
Seedlings should be planted 12 to 18 inches apart.
Soil should be watered once or twice per week.
Pepperoncini plants take approximately 72 days to reach maturity.
Mature plants are typically 24 inches tall and about 18 inches wide.
Between 2 and 5 inches long and about an inch in diameter.
Pepperoncini plants are very container friendly and can even be grown in smaller containers like window boxes, but 1-gallon containers are ideal.
The site and season: Where and when to grow pepperoncini
Transplant your pepperoncini seedlings when the soil temperatures have stabilized at about 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Note that these peppers like heat but prolonged periods where the temperatures go above 90 can delay your harvest and/or reduce the number of blossoms and thus the number of fruit.
Feeding and watering pepperoncini plants: How often and how much
The sandier your soil is, the better it will be for your pepperoncini plants. For soil that is excessively heavy and that does not drain well, consider adding compost to help improve drainage. Tilling can be beneficial for root growth but is not essential. These plants prefer a soil pH in the 6.1 to 7.0 range.
You will want to water your pepperoncini plants 1-2 times each week but cut that down to once per week to make the peppers hotter. The ideal method of watering these plants is with a soaker hose. If you choose to water with a gardening hose, avoid getting the leaves wet. Water your pepperoncini plants until the soil is wet to a depth of at least 4 feet.
A low-nitrogen fertilizer is best for your pepperoncini; consider using 5-10-10 fertilizer and apply it using the side-dressing method.
Pepperoncini harvesting: When to pick
As they ripen, pepperoncini will turn pink before turning red and crinkly when they are fully mature. You will want to harvest them before they get to the pink stage as that is when they begin to lose flavor. They should be a pale yellowish green when you pick them. Cut them from the tree using scissors or shears and be careful to leave the stems attached to the fruit.
Pepperoncini plant care: What to watch out for
Pepperoncini plants are highly resistant to disease and insects but that does not mean that they cannot be affected. Be on the lookout for problems like:
- Tobacco Mosaic Disease: This disease causes leaves to become mottled. While tobacco mosaic may not kill the plant, it can stunt its growth and severely reduce the harvest. Immediately remove infected plants to keep the infection from spreading.
- Aphids: Remove insects by spraying plants with insecticidal soap. Apply once every three days until the infestation has been eliminated.
- Cutworms: Cutworms will eat through the stems of pepperoncini plants until they collapse. They eat at night and hide in the soil at the base of the plant during the day. You can catch cutworms at work by checking your plants at night. Discourage these pests by manually removing them and by placing collars around the stems of your seedlings that cover the soil at the base of the plant.