If you like your food a little spicy, you will be quite familiar with jalapeno peppers. While you can definitely grow jalapenos in your backyard garden, there are a few tips and tricks to ensure you get the maximum potency out of them. Read on to find out when the best time to plant jalapenos is.
When to plant jalapenos: Growing jalapenos can take a lot of luck but if you end up having a long, hot summer, then these plants will thrive. Jalapenos can take up to four months to grow so it is imperative you start your seedlings indoors, about eight weeks before the last frost date. Then, once the nighttime temperatures are warm enough, which is usually late May, you can transplant them outside. If temperatures dip, cover your plants at night. Make sure the soil is moist but well-draining and add a layer of grass to keep the roots of your plants protected. If you want spicier jalapenos, wait until they turn red which may not be until September.
Planting Jalapenos in Different Climates
Jalapenos are native to tropical climates so this is the ideal place for them to grow. They love the hot temperatures and abundance of heat.
Furthermore, while most backyard gardeners need to treat jalapenos as an annual, in a tropical climate, you can actually leave your peppers outside and, because of the warmer winter, there is a good chance they will survive and come back on their own.
A dry climate may be able to sustain jalapeno peppers but you will need to add your own water. The biggest factor in growing jalapenos is temperature, so be aware of the nighttime temperatures in a dry climate as they may be too cold.
There is a good chance you can grow jalapeno peppers in a temperate climate but luck has to be in your favor. Definitely start your seedlings indoors and be careful about transplanting them too early.
While you might be able to keep your jalapenos growing through the summer, you may have to harvest early if temperatures dip, leaving you with peppers that aren’t as spicy as you may wish.
The hot summers of a continental climate will do well for jalapeno peppers. However, these summers can be on the short side so don’t transplant too early and keep an eye out for early frosts.
A polar climate does not have enough heat or sunshine to sustain jalapenos.
Choosing Jalapeno Seeds
There are many fun, interesting types of jalapenos to choose from. They offer a wide variety of spiciness and come in some unique colors.
Purple Jalapeno Peppers
If you like extra spiciness and vibrant color, you will love this variety. While they begin as green jalapenos, they turn to purple before settling on red when they are fully mature.
Yellow Jalapeno Peppers
A relatively new jalapeno variety, these peppers start off with a golden yellow hue, shift to orange, and then become red at the end. You can eat them at any point and they have a milder heat to them along with a sweater texture.
Black Jalapeno Peppers
Yes, this variety has an eerie black finish to it, as it goes from green to black and then ends up in red. While you might think the black color denotes spiciness, this variety is actually fairly sweet and juicy.
How to Plant Jalapeno Seeds
Sun, lots of sun
First of all, it’s important to remember that jalapeno peppers naturally grow in tropical areas. As such, their preferred habitat is somewhere hot.
You will absolutely need to place your jalapeno plants in full sun. Too much shade and they simply won’t ripen in time.
Lots of heat
One of the major drawbacks to growing jalapenos is that, unless your summers are nice and hot, they simply won’t grow. Furthermore, even if you live in a hot climate, you may have a milder summer and this can affect the growing season.
While we don’t want to diminish your growing efforts, we want this information to help you set up for success. If you are feeling confident that your summer has enough hot, sunny days, then by all means you should give jalapenos a try.
Jalapeno peppers have a very long growing season. In total, they need three to four months of growing time and the majority of this needs to be surrounded by heat.
Most people do not have a summer that is suitable but that’s ok. You can simply start your seedlings inside before you transplant them outside.
Start your seeds about eight weeks before the last spring frost date. Plant them in a growing mixture that has plenty of nutrients and set them up on a windowsill or somewhere that is warm and exposed to plenty of light.
Don’t transplant your seedlings until the soil and the air are warm enough. For best results, the nighttime temperatures should be at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit, which is usually not until late May.
Prepare the soil
Jalapenos have a long growing season and need plenty of nutrients to keep them going. Add organic matter to your soil such as aged compost or manure.
Ensure the soil is well-draining and that water doesn’t pool. You can plant in your garden, containers, or raised beds.
Avoid nightshade family
Jalapeno peppers can share diseases with the nightshade family of plants, such as tomatoes, eggplants, and potatoes. To minimize this risk, don’t plant jalapenos in areas that recently grew these plants.
Once you have your jalapeno seedlings, you can then plant them in the ground. Give them enough space, around 14 to 20 inches apart as they will grow quite large.
How to Water Jalapenos
After you plant your jalapenos, you should give the area good watering. However, after that, you don’t want to overwater.
Monitor the soil and allow the top inch to become dry before you water again. This will encourage the roots to grow deeper and stronger.
How to Grow Jalapenos
Protect your plants
Colder climates can still support jalapenos, as long as you give them as much care as possible. You can put down a layer of black plastic or black mulch to warm the soil up before you plant them.
If the nights suddenly dip in temperature, you can add a row cover to keep them warm on chilly evenings.
As your jalapenos grow, you want to fertilize them at regular intervals. Once blossoms appear, this is an excellent time to fertilize.
You can add compost to the area around your plants, as long as you are careful about spreading any into the root structure. You can also add an inorganic fertilizer to the soil.
Many varieties of jalapenos can grow into quite large plants. Once they blossom and bear their fruit, these plants can be quite heavy.
Before your jalapenos get too big, place tomato cages around them. This will give them the necessary support and won’t damage the fruit as it starts to grow.
Protect the soil
Even though your jalapenos need plenty of heat and un, you also want to protect the soil and the roots underneath. You can add a layer of straw or grass to help moisten the soil and keep the area cooler underground.
How long do jalapenos take to grow?
Jalapenos can take up to four months to fully grow. This is a long time and all the while, they need adequate heat and sunshine.
It’s important to start your seedlings indoors, about eight weeks before the last frost date. This will give them the needed warmth to start out strong.
Your growing period is also influenced by how spicy you want your jalapenos to be. Jalapenos will change color at the end, merging from green to black to red.
Red jalapenos are the spiciest and if you want this result, it will tack on another week or two of growing time.
How to harvest jalapeno peppers?
Jalapenos will change colors at the end of their growing season and these colors will help let you know just how hot the plants are. Usually, they go from green to black to red.
While you can certainly harvest jalapenos when they are still in the green-colored phase, if you love heat, then you want to be patient.
One factor that can affect when you harvest your jalapenos is the end of summer weather. Jalapenos still need hot temperatures to make it to that extra-spicy level and if your hot temperatures plummet, you might not get there.
Furthermore, if you are worried about very cold temperatures or even frost, it is better to harvest your jalapenos at a milder stage than to take the risk. You can always try to let them ripen at room temperature or in a paper bag.
Jalapeno peppers can add some much-needed flavor to any dish. These plants need heat and sunshine so if you have plenty to offer, start your seeds indoors, transplant in May, and harvest in September.