How to Grow Jalapeño Peppers: A Complete Guide


Jalapeños are one of the most popular and beloved peppers in countries across the globe. Used fresh, roasted, pickled, dried, filled, grilled, and a myriad of other ways, they are one of the most versatile varieties of the pepper world. Growing your own Jalapeño pepper plants is a great way to make sure you always have this delicious pantry staple on hand, and this complete guide can help get you started.

While anyone can find success with growing beautiful, fresh Jalapeños, forewarned is forearmed, so read on to get all your Jalapeño growing questions answered!

Are Jalapeño Peppers Hard to Grow?

Jalapeños are typically hardy plants that are fairly simple to grow. Like all plants, they require certain conditions to thrive and produce a great yield. Gardeners with all levels of experience and knowledge can be successful in growing Jalapeños.

How Long Do Jalapeño Peppers Take to Grow?

If you grow your Jalapeños outdoors from seed, it will take about four months before you have peppers ready to pick. Some gardeners start their plants inside for about six to eight weeks before they plan on transplanting them outdoors. Once transplanted, plants will be ready for harvesting in about 70 to 85 days. Peppers will continue to grow and ripen until temperatures drop too low or there is a frost.

What is the Best Climate to Grow Jalapeño Peppers?

Jalapeño pepper plants can grow in a variety of different climates, but they prefer warmer temperatures, with 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit being their sweet spot. Nighttime temperatures should not drop below 65 degrees Fahrenheit. However, Jalapeños do not do well in extreme heat and may stop producing fruit if the temperature rises above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

You will want to plant your Jalapeños in an area that receives lots of sunlight, as they need from six to eight hours of sunlight a day.

What is the Best Time to Plant Jalapeño Pepper Seeds?

If you start your pepper seeds indoors, as most gardeners do, the best time to start growing the seeds is six to eight weeks before the final frost. In the U.S., this is usually between the months of January and March. Starting indoors will allow ample time for the plants to mature before you transplant them outdoors. You can then plan to move them outside two to three weeks after the last frost, when the soil temperature has warmed up to at least 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you are unsure of when is the best time for you to plant, this article can help you to learn your gardening zone and location’s last expected day of frost.

Are Jalapeño Pepper Plants Self-Pollinating?

Jalapeño peppers are self-pollinating, but they do get some assistance from wind or insects. The wind will gently move the plant and carry the pollen, while bees and other insects can help pollinate by spreading the pollen within flowers and to other flowers.

However, if you grow your plants indoors or if your peppers undergo stress due to a lack of pollinators or high temperatures, you may have to give your peppers some help.

You’ll want to help the pollination process along when the blossoms are entirely opened, and the pollen is at its highest concentration. You can gently shake the plant to mimic the wind. To give a little more aid, use a small paintbrush or cotton swab, and transfer the pollen to the end of the flower stigma.

Are Jalapeño Pepper Plants Annual or Perennial?

Jalapeño pepper plants are typically grown as annuals, producing for one season. However, they can be grown as perennials if you live in an area with year-long warm temperatures that gets adequate rain and sunlight. Those who live in colder climates will need to take extra care when overwintering their pepper plants to get multiple growing seasons out of them. 

Can Jalapeño Peppers be Grown Indoors?

Jalapeños, as well as similar varieties of peppers, are typically started indoors. This allows them time to begin growing before being transplanted outdoors and beginning to flower and produce fruit in the warmer months. However, they can be grown indoors year-round, as long as they are provided the right growing conditions.

Jalape_o_Pepper_Lines (4)
Jalape_o_Pepper_Lines (4)

Since outdoor temperatures will not be a factor, you can plant your seeds at any time if you are planning on keeping them indoors. You will need to use a heating pad to provide adequate soil temperatures of 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit at night. A spot that receives around 16 hours of daylight or artificial lighting will be needed to provide adequate light year-long.

Seedlings will need to be transferred regularly to larger pots as they grow, with a final pot size of two to five gallons required for a mature plant.

What Type of Soil is Best to Grow Jalapeño Peppers?

The best soil for Jalapeños is rich and fertile. It should be well-drained, loamy soil with lots of organic matter. The soil’s pH level should be neutral, with a level between 6.0 and 6.8 being ideal. If you are unsure of your soil’s pH level, you can have it tested and receive recommendations on adjusting it for the best results.

What Type of Fertilizer is Best to Grow Jalapeño Peppers?

The best fertilizer for seedlings is rich in nitrogen to help them in their initial growth. However, if you continue using a nitrogen-rich fertilizer, it may result in an attractive, full plant that produces few fruits.

Once the small, white flowers of the Jalapeño plant begin to appear, you should switch to a fertilizer with a higher phosphorus and potassium content, such as a 5-10-10 fertilizer, to aid in fruit production. Once matured, a 5-3-3 fertilizer can be used to side-dress the plants.

Many planters also use Epsom salt to provide needed nutrients, such as magnesium and sulfur, to their pepper plants. Epsom salt can be added to the soil before transplanting or planting seeds, mixed with water and sprayed heavily from a spray bottle once a month, or used as a side-dress every four to five weeks.

When to Water Jalapeño Peppers

The best time of day to water your plants is in the morning as it provides time for the leaves to dry out. If you cannot water early in the morning, wait until the sun goes down, as watering during the hottest part of the day can result in burnt leaves. Plants should receive about one inch of water per week, with the soil kept evenly moist.

If you live in a dry climate or have an extended period without rain, you should check your plants’ soil moisture levels often. You will need to water your Jalapeños a minimum of twice a week, increasing your watering when the temperature rises. 

If you live in a wet climate or have a period with lots of rain, check your soil prior to watering to avoid overwatering. Too much water for your Jalapeños can cause diseases such as root rot.  Soil should not be allowed to dry out, however. Aim for about six inches of moist, well-drained soil. You can purchase a moisture meter to test your plant soil’s exact moisture level and help you decide when it is time to water. 

Step-By-Step Guide for Growing Jalapeño Peppers in a Garden

Planning Before You Plant Your Jalapeños

First, do a little planning to make sure you are prepared. Are you going to start from seed or purchase seedlings? Are you going to start your plants indoors and then transfer to your garden, or do you want to sow your seeds outdoors? You’ll need to decide when where to plant, and your climate will play a role in this decision. You’ll also want to make sure you have the necessary tools and fertilizers on hand.

Planting Your Jalapeños in Your Garden

If you are starting your plants indoors, sow the seeds about half an inch deep in loose, moist soil. Use heating pads and artificial lights if needed to provide the necessary warmth and light. Before transplanting your plants when the weather has warmed up, you will want to harden your plants by gradually introducing them to the cooler, outside elements.

When planting in the ground, choose a site that has quality soil with good drainage and receives lots of sunlight, at least eight hours a day. A good spot will also provide protection from high winds and scalding afternoon sunlight. Plant your Jalapeño plants at least a foot apart to allow adequate room for each plant to spread out its roots and receive the needed nutrients and water.

Caring For Your Jalapeños

Water your plants regularly, increasing watering during dry weather, and decreasing during wet spells. You should keep the soil moist but not overwatered. Use fertilizer regularly during the summer to increase fruit production. Check for pests and signs of disease daily to keep your plants healthy. You can also prune your plant by pinching off unwanted fruits, flowers, flower buds, or leaves.

Step-by-Step Guide for Growing Jalapeño Peppers in a Pot

For growing your peppers in a pot, the process is similar to growing in a garden, with a few important differences.

Planning Before You Plant Jalapeños in a Pot

Decide whether you will start from seed or purchase plant starters. Purchase pots or similar containers in a variety of sizes as you will need to transfer them gradually into larger sizes. Decide whether you will keep your pots indoors or move them outdoors, as this will affect when you need to plant your seeds or seedlings.

Planting Your Jalapeños in a Pot

Choose a nutrient-rich potting mix for your plants. Once the seedlings have sprouted, you can transfer them to a larger pot. You will want to replant your Jalapeños at least twice, if not more. It is better to gradually increase in pot size rather than transfer to the final, large pot in order to reduce the risk of over watering or over fertilizing.

Caring For Your Potted Jalapeños

If you plan on keeping your potted plant indoors, you will need to make sure your plant receives enough light; if your plant is not stationed in a sunroom, you will likely need artificial lighting. You can develop a watering schedule that keeps the soil consistently moist. If you are moving your pot outdoors, pay attention to the weather conditions, and check the soil before watering. Potted plants will not need as much fertilizer.

Common Pests to Watch Out for When Growing Jalapeño Peppers

There are a variety of pests you’ll need to be on the lookout for when growing Jalapeños. Here are some of the worst offenders:

  • Worms (including cutworms, wireworms, tomato fruitworms, and beet armyworms)
  • Beetles (such as flea beetles and pale striped flea beetles)
  • Green peach aphids
  • Spider mites
  • Whiteflies

To control the spread of pests and the diseases they often bring, keep your garden free of rotting natural debris. If you develop a big pest problem, you can use an insecticide.

If you want to use a natural method to rid your plants of these nuisances, you have some options. You can introduce predatory insects such as ladybugs or green lacewing, spray your plants with fish emulsion once a week, spray your plants with a heavy stream of cold water, or simply pick off the larger pests or use a cloth or sponge to scrape off smaller pests.

Common Mistakes Gardeners Make When Growing Jalapeño Peppers

One common mistake that gardeners make when growing Jalapeño peppers is allowing the soil to dry out. During hot, dry spells, it is especially important to check the soil often and ensure that the soil remains moist. Over watering, over fertilizing, and lack of pollination are also common issues.

Another common mistake is that gardeners allow pests, such as aphids, mites, and worms, to feast on the plants and spread disease. It is crucial to inspect your plants regularly, perhaps even daily, to search for these pests or signs of disease.

How Big do Jalapeño Pepper Plants Get?

A mature pepper plant will usually grow to be about 24 to 36 inches tall. The plant’s size can be affected by basic growing conditions like temperature and water, as well as how much space the plant is given to grow and whether structural support is provided.

When grown or transplanted outdoors, plants should be given at least a foot of space in rows that are two to three feet apart. This will allow the plants to get needed nutrients and water without having to compete with other plants.

If you notice that your plant is growing to a rather large size, you may want to provide structural support with a stake or cage, which can stop the stems from breaking under the weight of the fruit. A wooden or metal stake can be loosely tied to the main stem and branches of the plant to provide support. A wire cage, like those used with tomato plants, can also be used to prevent the breakage of larger pepper plants.

How Many Jalapeño Peppers Do You Get Per Plant?

Growing conditions such as temperature, sunlight, and amount of water will affect how many peppers your plant produces. Typically, a Jalapeño pepper plant will produce around 25 to 40 peppers per season.

The more you pick, the more peppers will grow. So, if you are harvesting your peppers when they are first ripened and still green in color, you can expect to have a greater yield than if you allow your peppers to stay on the plant until they turn red in color.

When to Pick Jalapeño Peppers?

Jalapeños are typically ready to be picked about three to four months after planting. The appearance of the fruit will let you know when it is time to harvest. Ripe Jalapeño peppers are about two to three inches long. They can be picked once they are firm, glossy and green. If the pepper is ready to be picked, it will come off the plant easily.

Another sign that the pepper is ready for harvest is the appearance of small brown lines on the pepper. Peppers can also develop small white lines, called corking. This shows that the pepper is mature and does not harm the taste of the pepper. Some farmers even prefer peppers with these corking lines as it is an indication of greater sweetness and heat in the pepper.

Peppers left on the plant will go from a bright to a dark green, then a dark brownish-green and eventually red. Peppers picked at the green stage have a fresher, crisp taste. Red Jalapeños typically have more heat and are sweeter in taste. If you are planning to dry your peppers or just looking for a spicier flavor, you may choose to leave them on the plant until they turn red.

Picking the ripened peppers will allow energy to be diverted to more growth, resulting in a larger harvest, so check your Jalapeño plant often and pick peppers once they are ready.

If there is a threat of freeze, you should pick all of your peppers, whether they are ripe or not, as a freeze will likely kill the plant. If you have to harvest peppers before they are ready, you can leave them by a sunny window to continue ripening.

Will Jalapeño Peppers Ripen Off the Plant and How Long Does it Take?

Ideally, your peppers should be left on the plant until they have reached the desired ripeness. However, due to circumstances such as an impending freeze, you may have to pick your peppers early. They will continue to ripen off the plant if kept at room or warmer temperatures.

How long it will take to ripen will depend on how ripe they were prior to picking. To speed up the process, you can place your peppers on a windowsill in a warm, sunny spot for a few days. Another option is to store your peppers in a paper bag with a ripe apple or tomato for a week. Others swear by leaving the peppers attached to the branch and hanging them upside down indoors.

What is the Best Way to Store Jalapeño Peppers Once Picked?

It is important to preserve your peppers correctly to reduce waste and make the most of your yield. There are a variety of different ways you can store your peppers, depending on how long you wish to store them and how you are planning to use them. Make sure to store your Jalapeño peppers when they are ripe and fresh with a smooth pepper wall for the best results. Make sure to check out our comprehensive guide on how best to store Jalapeño peppers.

Short-Term Pepper Storing

One great thing about having your own Jalapeño plants is that you can pick the peppers as you need them for a recipe for the freshest possible taste. However, if you do have to pick more than you plan on using immediately for some reason, but want to use them within a couple of days or weeks, here are a couple of tips on how to best store your peppers for the short term.

  1. Don’t wash your peppers. Residual water can speed up the rotting process.
  2. Store your peppers whole, rather than halved or sliced.
  3. Throw out peppers that are already showing signs of over-ripening, such as soft or dark spots.
  4. Store your peppers in the fridge’s crisper drawer in a plastic, zippered bag or a paper bag for one to two weeks.

Long-Term Pepper Storing: Freezing and Canning

If you are blessed with a large harvest, you may be looking for a way to store your peppers for an extended period of time. You have a few different options: you can freeze, can, or dry your peppers.

Peppers should be washed and completely dried before being placed in the freezer in a freezer-safe Ziploc bag or container. Jalapeños can be frozen whole, sliced, or in chunks, with or without the skin. If cutting your peppers, you can leave the seeds and membranes in for more heat or remove them for less heat.

Another option is to can or jar your peppers. There are many recipes online for different ways to pickle your Jalapeños when jarring them. Sliced, pickled Jalapeños are popularly used as a topping or condiment for many dishes.

Long-Term Pepper Storing: Drying

For the longest possible use, you can dry your Jalapeños. Three different methods you can use are to air dry, oven dry, or use a dehydrator. To air dry, string your peppers whole onto a strong thread with a couple of inches in between each pepper. Peppers should be hung in direct sunlight and kept in a warm and dry area. Complete drying will take several weeks.

To oven-dry your peppers, slice them in half lengthwise and bake at low heat until the moisture has been completely dried, turning them every few minutes. Ideally, you should set your oven to the lowest temperature available (usually 125-150 degrees Fahrenheit), and the drying process can take anywhere between six to ten hours. A dehydrator will be your quickest way to get dry Jalapeños, taking about six to eight hours to completely dry out the peppers.

Once dried, Jalapeños can be ground up to make a pepper powder or stored in cans or glass jars to be used whole or even rehydrated with water. No matter the method you choose, always remember to use gloves when handling the peppers so that the juice and seeds do not irritate your skin. (And if you do accidentally get “hot pepper hands” be sure to check out this post on ways to get rid of the pain).

How Long Do Jalapeño Peppers Last?

How long Jalapeños will last depends on the preparation and storage method used. As time passes, peppers will lose their flavor, spiciness, and crispness. Peppers that have truly gone bad and should be thrown out are those that have a rotten smell, mold, or soft brown or gray spots on the pepper.

Fresh, ripe peppers kept at room temperature will last for a few days, while peppers picked early and left out to continue ripening can last a little longer.

For fresh whole peppers kept in the refrigerator, you can expect them to maintain their crispness and taste for about a week, possibly two weeks. Sliced fresh peppers will not last as long and should be used within a few days for best results.

Fresh peppers that are frozen can last six months to a year in the freezer. Canned peppers can last from 8 to 18 months, with pickled Jalapeños lasting longer. Once opened, canned peppers should be refrigerated in a sealed plastic or glass container and used within a month or two. Dried Jalapeños that are kept in a dark, cool place can last for years.

Closing Thoughts

Providing your Jalapeños with adequate water, fertilizer, sunlight, and warmth will ensure that you have some delicious, spicy peppers to use in your favorite recipes in no time. Whether you are pickling your Jalapeños to use as a condiment, blending them to make a hot sauce, drying them to use in a spice blend, or using them fresh in a salsa, there is no pepper quite as delicious as one fresh from your garden and grown with your own skill and hands.

Here are Some of my Favorite Gardening Products and Tools

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found it helpful for growing some new plants in your home or garden. Here are some products I like that I hope you’ll also find helpful. These are affiliate links, and I am compensated for referring traffic. But in all honesty, these are the exact product that I use or recommend to everyone.

Soil: For high-quality soil, I really like Fox Farm Ocean Forest. I do all my growing in containers and this soil has worked great for me. I like how they use nutrient-rich contents like earthworm castings, bat guano, and composted crab and fish.

Fertilizer: Currently I am using a seaweed-based organic fertilizer call Neptunes Harvest. This is a great milder fertilizer option if you want to use something organic. If you want a more powerful fertilizer, I recommend Fox Farm Liquid Nutrient Trio, lots of people have had great growing success with this product.

Pruning Shears: Pruning shears are one of the most useful gardening tools to have because it’s important to prune your plants to keep them healthy. The pruning shears I recommend are the Gonicc 8’’ pruning shears. I like them because they are built sturdy and work both on bigger and smaller plants, so you don’t need to have multiple pruning shears.

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Supriya

Hi! I'm Supriya. I'm a home cook, bulldog mom, spicy food lover, and founder of The Spicy Trio. I have been a home cook for about 15 years and have been growing plants for the past six years.

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