7 Ways to Protect Pepper Plants from the Heat


Too much heat can damage or kill your pepper plant, so it’s essential to recognize heat stress and care for them to ensure that you have a healthy harvest.

To protect pepper plants from the heat, water them in the morning, use mulch and shade cloths, fertilize in cooler seasons, harvest your peppers before heat waves, and plant your peppers at the start of the growing season.

So, let’s talk more about how to keep your pepper plants healthy and productive, even in hot weather. We’ll discuss the optimal temperatures for pepper plant growth, how to recognize if your pepper plant is getting too hot, and also cover the best ways to ensure that your pepper plant doesn’t suffer from heat stress.

Photo of a heatwave showing a sun against a orange sky with a thermometer showing temperatures above 100 degrees F
Photo by Günter Albers

What Temperature is Too Hot for Pepper Plants?

Peppers grow best in warm climates and are sensitive to extreme hot and cold temperatures. If your pepper plant gets too hot or cold, it might not produce any peppers or it could die, so it’s crucial to ensure that you monitor your pepper plant’s health and temperature to ensure it grows peppers.

The ideal temperature range for growing peppers is between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit (21 and 32 degrees Celsius).

If the temperature rises above 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius), pepper plants usually drop their blossoms. When the temperatures get too hot, pepper plants can’t circulate enough water to their flowers to maintain them. Heat can also burn the blossoms or leaves, damaging them permanently. So, if you want your pepper plant to bloom and fruit, you should ensure that it doesn’t get too hot.

7 Ways to Keep Pepper Plants Safe During Hot Weather

Even if you live in a swelteringly hot area, you can take some extra precautions that’ll help you keep your peppers alive and thriving. These tips will ensure that no matter how much the sun shines on your peppers, they’ll keep flowering and fruiting until harvest time.

Water Your Pepper Plants in the Early Morning

Since mornings are much cooler, they’re a good time to water your pepper plants if you want to make sure that they’re not burned by the sun.

Watering your pepper plants early in the morning will ensure that they stay hydrated and protected from intense sunlight throughout the day. If you water your plants during the afternoon, when the sun is the most intense, the water may evaporate before it fully seeps into the soil, which could deprive your pepper plant of the water it needs to grow.

If you water your pepper plant in the afternoon, it’s more likely to be scorched by the sun. Water magnifies sunlight, which could quickly burn your pepper plant’s leaves, blossoms, and stalk. Watering your pepper plants in the morning can prevent sun damage since your plant will have plenty of time to absorb the water before the sun gets too intense.

Mulch Your Pepper Plants

Mulching is an excellent way to control the soil’s moisture around your pepper plant. Most heat stress is caused by dehydration, so ensuring that your pepper plant’s soil doesn’t dry out can make a huge difference when it comes to your plant’s health. Mulch will trap moisture in the dirt, preventing the heat from causing water to evaporate out of the soil.

If you’re worried about your pepper plant’s heat exposure, cover the surrounding area with mulch, ensuring that you spread the mulch out at least 24 inches (61 cms) around the pepper plant’s base. If you don’t have bark mulch, you can use hay, grass clippings, pine needles, or dry leaves to mulch your pepper plants.

Use Shade Cloths

Shade cloths are a simple and effective way to prevent your pepper plant from experiencing heat stress. A study at the University of Georgia showed that pepper plants grow best when given some form of shading, specifically when they were treated with 30 percent reduction of

sunlight. Using a shade cloth will ensure that your plant grows excellent pepper fruits.

Shade cloths can protect your plant from all heat stress symptoms, making them one of the most efficient ways to keep your pepper plants healthy and happy in hot weather. For best results, place the shade cloth over your plants when the temperature is above 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius), and remove it when the temperature is cooler. You can use metal arches, trellises, or stakes to secure your shade cloth.

Move Potted Pepper Plants to Cooler Areas

If you have potted pepper plants, it’s very easy to protect them from sun stress. Potted pepper plants still need full sun, but if the weather gets too hot, they’ll suffer from heat stress more than pepper plants planted in the ground. Because potted pepper plants cannot get extra water from the soil, you’ll need to make sure that in temperatures of 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) or higher, you should move your plant to a shadier area.

So, if the weather gets too hot, move your pepper plant to partial shade until the temperature is cooler. It’s essential to ensure that you water your potted pepper plants well, too, since hot weather can dry out the pot quickly, leaving your pepper plant with no water.

Don’t Fertilize During Excessive Heat

When you fertilize your plants, they’ll grow faster than their roots do, and it’ll take a while for the roots to get big enough to provide the plant with enough water. When you fertilize in hot weather, the plant will grow taller with more leaves, but the roots can quickly dry out and shrivel, causing the whole plant to die.

New growth is also much more susceptible to heat damage. If you fertilize your pepper plant in hot weather, the new growth could quickly become scalded or sunburnt. Too much sun on fresh leaves and shoots could cause damage, so you should fertilize at the right time of year.

To be safe, you should only fertilize in spring or during the winter before sowing your seeds. If you have to fertilize in the summertime, try and fertilize while the weather is between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (16 and 24 degrees Celsius). Any hotter, and you may accidentally kill your pepper plant.

Harvest Peppers Before Heatwaves

Harvesting peppers before heatwaves can also protect both the pepper plant and its fruits from heat damage. If you leave your peppers on the plant during extremely hot weather, they could develop sunscald or blossom-end rot. To protect the peppers from becoming damaged by the heat of the sun, pick them before hot weather comes in.

Harvesting peppers before severe heat can also help the pepper plant continue to grow, since pepper plants have to use quite a bit of water to keep their fruits healthy. Sometimes, when the plant cannot get enough water, it’ll kill off its fruits to supply water to its leaves.

Pepper plants may also shed their leaves if they don’t have enough water to nourish both the plants’ fruits and plants, causing the plants to weaken and potentially die. Harvesting the peppers before it gets too hot can help your plant continue to grow, even in the most severe weather.

Plant Densely at the Start of the Growing Season

If you plant your pepper plants close to other plants or near each other when you first introduce them to the outdoors, they’ll be able to grow better, even in intense heat. Leaves not only help plants grow, but they can also shade the soil, keeping the sun from drying it out. If you plant your pepper plants in an area with creeping vines, large-leafed plants, or in partial shade, the soil will stay moist, even during intense heat.

Generally, you should space your pepper plants out at least 12 inches (30.5 cms) from each other. If you plant them close together, they can use each other’s leaves to shade themselves. You may also want to consider planting squash, thyme, or another plant with creeping vines to shade the soil in the same area where you grow your peppers.

damaged yellow and brown leaved pepper plant with pepper pods
Photo by Viktor Kovtun

6 Signs That Your Pepper Plant is Too Hot (Heat Stress)

If you’re worried about your pepper plants getting too much sun, you should keep an eye out for the signs and symptoms of sun stress. Several different things can happen to pepper plants exposed to high temperatures. Knowing what to look for can help you keep your pepper plant alive throughout the season.

Wilting

When it’s too hot, your pepper plant will inevitably wilt. Intense sunlight and high temperatures heat the water in the soil and the water within the pepper plant. Too much sun can cause all of the water to evaporate from your pepper plant. When this happens, the leaves will droop or fade, the blossoms may fall off, or your peppers might shrivel up like raisins.

Leaf Drop

Sometimes, when the weather is too hot, plants will drop their leaves. Plants drop their leaves for two different reasons. Your plant may be unable to absorb the water in the soil before the heat evaporates it, which will cause your plant to naturally prune itself so that it doesn’t have to supply as many leaves with water.

Another reason your pepper plant might drop its leaves is if it hasn’t been watered enough at the right time of day. It’s best to consistently water your pepper plants before the temperature gets too hot outside. Usually, watering after sunset or in the early morning will help your plants absorb all of the water they need for the coming day.

Flower Drop

Pepper plants may drop their flowers when the temperature is too hot. Plants often drop their flowers in hot climates when they cannot get enough water to grow more leaves and fruit. When a pepper plant drops its flowers, it’s begging for more water. Heat exacerbates dehydration since it dries out the soil and the plant, inhibiting the plant from growing more flowers, leaves, and peppers.

Sunscald of Peppers

Usually, the pepper leaves protect the fruit from the sun, but sometimes, in scorching conditions, peppers can scald in the sun. Peppers with sunscald have dry, lighter-colored patches on the pepper fruit, which is caused by too much sun exposure. A sunscald spot is much like a sunburn, but for peppers.

Sun scalding doesn’t ruin the peppers, but once they’re scalded, they’ll stop growing. If your peppers are sun scalded, you should pick them immediately to prevent insects or bacteria from taking advantage of your pepper’s weakened skin.

Plants may be prone to sunburn if they’re unaccustomed to lots of sun, if you don’t harden them correctly, or if they don’t have enough water to defend their leaves from intense sunlight.

To prevent sunburn, you should always introduce young pepper plants to harsh sunlight gradually. If your pepper plant is potted, move it into a shadier spot when the weather gets hot. You can also use shade cloths to provide your pepper plants with a bit of extra protection on sunny days.

No or Low Fruit Production

Pepper plants that are too hot will rarely produce fruit or just grow a few peppers during the harvest season. Since hot temperatures remove water from leaves, roots, and soil, pepper plants may not have enough water to fruit. When the plant doesn’t have enough water, it’ll choose not to produce peppers and focus all of the water that it can get on just staying alive.

Blossom-End Rot

Blossom-end rot is a condition in which the pepper fruit has a dark rotten spot on the bottom. It is caused by a calcium deficiency in the pepper plant. When pepper plants cannot get enough water in hot weather, they cannot absorb calcium from the soil.

This calcium deficiency causes the peppers to grow too fast for the plant to channel calcium into the fruit, resulting in cell collapse within the pepper itself. This unhealthy growth can quickly cause a pepper plant’s fruits’ bottoms to rot.

How to Revive Pepper Plants Damaged by Heat Stress

If your pepper plant shows signs of heat stress, you may still be able to nurse it back to health. As soon as you see signs of sun damage, take some of these precautions to help your plant recover and get strong again.

Use Shade Cloths to Protect Your Plant

If your pepper plant shows signs of sun stress, you’ll need to shade it from the sun to prevent further damage. Place sun cloths over the pepper plants and leave the shade cloth covering until they grow new shoots and leaves. You should let new growth mature before removing the cover to ensure that the sun doesn’t scald the fresh leaves.

Move Your Pepper Plant

If you have a potted pepper plant, move it indoors or to a shaded area to allow it to recover. Water your pepper plant well in the morning and keep in indirect sunlight until it grows new leaves and shoots. Once it has healed, you’ll need to re-harden it. Gradually introduce it back to direct sunlight, starting by putting it outside for one hour on the first day, then adding an hour every day.

Water Your Pepper Plant Well Every Morning

To help your pepper plant recuperate, water it well in the morning, while avoiding overwatering it. Simply water until the soil is moist but not muddy or marshy. You may also want to add a layer of mulch or grass clippings to the top of your plant’s soil to ensure that the dirt retains moisture all day long.

Closing Thoughts

It may be surprising, but pepper plants are sensitive to high heat. Ensuring that the soil retains moisture in high heat, mulching, and watering in the morning can help your plant stay healthy and are essential tricks to growing peppers during hot summers. You may also need to shade your pepper plant to ensure that it survives and thrives during the hotter months.

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