Peppers are a productive and relatively easy-to-grow crop that can thrive in gardens, raised beds, and containers. There are many different pepper plants you can choose from, ranging from sweet bell peppers to super hot habanero and jalapeno peppers. If you want to try growing peppers, you’re probably wondering how far apart to plant peppers.
Most pepper varieties should be spaced 12 to 18 inches apart in rows 30 to 36 inches apart. Larger varieties can be spaced even further apart but usually don’t need more than 18 inches. For example, bell peppers grow taller than jalapeno and serrano peppers and should be planted 18 inches apart.
Proper plant spacing is essential for planting peppers in your garden. In this article, we’ll share helpful tips for growing peppers and explain the proper pepper plant spacing.
Reasons why You Should Consider Spacing when Planting Peppers
Spacing pepper plants at the proper distance are the best way to ensure your plants aren’t competing for oxygen and nutrients. Here are some reasons you should consider spacing when planting pepper plants:
1. Overcrowding Reduces Pepper Plant Health
Overcrowded pepper plants are more likely to be affected by diseases and insects, which affect pepper plants’ growth and health. Being plagued by pests and diseases affects the pepper’s yield.
When peppers plants are planted too close to one another, they grow into their neighbors. Lack of space reduces the air circulation around the plants, preventing the foliage to dry quickly after the rain or watering. Wet leaves are more likely to rot or become diseased.
2. Overcrowding Affects the Pepper Plant’s Yield
In addition to plant disease and insects, the lack of space also affects pepper plant yield. Tightly spaced peppers compete for sunlight, water, and nutrients with their neighbors.
Peppers are warm-season vegetables that need at least eight hours of sunlight per day to produce healthy and sturdy plants. When planted too close to one another, peppers don’t get enough sunlight to grow into large plants and produce good yields.
3. Planting Peppers too Far Apart Affects Garden Productivity
Planting peppers too close causes many problems, but growing them too far apart isn’t any better. How far apart you plant peppers can affect the overall productivity of your garden.
Leaving a lot of empty space between pepper plants isn’t only unproductive but encourages weed growth. When spaced appropriately, pepper plants create shade and discourage weed growth.
Proper Spacing for Planting Peppers
Peppers must be properly spaced to prevent plants from competing against one another for sunlight, root space, and nutrients. Overcrowding can lead to the depletion of nutrients in the soil, reduced oxygen, and sunlight which can hinder growth and cause problems with pests and diseases.
Here are several tested ways to space pepper plants for optimal growth and harvest:
Row planting peppers in a garden is the most popular way of spacing peppers of all varieties. When planting peppers in a row, you’ll need to consider the space between pepper plants and the distance between rows.
Ideally, you have enough space between each pepper to allow the plant access to the optimal amount of sunlight, nutrition in the ground, and airflow. The downside of row planting is that it uses a lot of space.
A raised bed allows intensive planting, allowing you to plant many peppers in a single bed. To maximize space, plant peppers in a grid instead of a row.
When planting peppers in raised beds, the distance between plants should be 10 to 15 inches, depending on the pepper variety and its size. Adding more space between plants may make harvesting peppers much easier.
Peppers are excellent container plants. Depending on the size and shape of the container, you can opt to plant only one pepper or multiple plants per container.
The size of the container will depend on the size of a fully-grown pepper plant. Planting pepper seeds in a small container can hinder the plant’s growth and development, so always choose a bigger pot.
Sow seeds in a 5-gallon container with a 12-inch diameter, so the pepper plants have enough room to grow and thrive. Smaller pepper varieties can be grown in 3-gallon containers.
Tips for Growing Peppers
Once your peppers are planted and spaced properly, there are a few things you need to do to ensure a good harvest.
Regular watering is essential for peppers. Peppers need around 1 to 2 inches of water per week, so you’ll need to water your plants when there isn’t enough rainfall.
Their high-water needs make peppers ideal for watering with a soaker hose. Always water pepper plants near the base and not directly overhead to keep the plants healthy.
Use shredder leaves, straws, or pine needles as mulch to keep the soil under pepper plants moist, suppress weed growth, and improve the soil around the plants. Mulch will also give your garden a neat appearance and reduce the time you spend watering and weeding.
Use organic vegetable fertilizer or compost to fertilize pepper plants. For most pepper varieties, start fertilizing one or two weeks after the plants have sprouted and keep up with a consistent fertilization schedule.
Can You Plant Peppers Close Together?
Planting peppers too close together leads to several undesirable outcomes. The biggest problem with close spacing is that the pepper plants will compete for nutrients and sunlight as they grow.
This can lead to root crowding, damaged plants, poor growth, and low crop output. Cross-pollination is the other issue that can affect your pepper crops.
If you plant a jalapeno and bell pepper too close together, they may cross-pollinate, creating hybrid seeds in the plant. Cross-pollination won’t affect the taste and appearance of your crop this year but will affect the following year’s yield.
There are many different pepper varieties, but the general guidelines are that pepper plants should be spaced 18 inches apart in rows 30 to 36 inches apart. The recommended plant spacing for bell peppers is 18 inches between plants and 12 to 18 inches for jalapeno peppers.
Leaving enough space between plants will ensure all peppers get enough sunlight, oxygen, root space, and nutrients to stay healthy and produce a good harvest.