Plant peppers in pots

Knowing where to grow your vegetables is almost as important as knowing what types to grow in the first place. Your temperature zone defines what you can easily grow, but your ultimate placement of those chosen vegetables will decide how well they’ll grow for you. Here is a list of full sun, shade, and partial sun plants that grow well in most of North America.

(Click through on the link for each vegetable to learn more about it.)

Full Sun Vegetables

“Full sun” means a minimum of six hours (usually at least 8) of sunlight per day. For at least six hours, the sun should be directly shining onto the plants nearly every day of the season. Obviously inclement weather and overcast days are not counted. No artificial shade (trees, buildings, etc) are blocking sunlight from full-sun veggies.

One of the easiest to grow, cukes have very broad leaves, a common trait in many full-sun plants.

These grow better in some climates than in others, but are a popular early spring and late fall harvest.

Most types of peppers prefer as much sun as they can get.

Like cucumbers, squash plants have very broad leaves and beg for sunlight. Growing them on a trellis or stand can maximize sun exposure.

Like peppers, assuming plenty of water is available, tomatoes will always take as much sun as they can get.

Partial Sun Vegetables

Partial Sun are vegetables that require at least four hours of sunlight per day, but often thrive with less than six hours of direct sunlight. These are usually listed as “partial sun” or “partial shade” veggies in garden stores. Partial sun usually means that the plant could still do well with more sun, and partial shade often means that the plant would do better with four to six hours as a maximum.

When in a bush variety, these do well with more sun (closer to 6 hours) than in vine varieties, which can do more with less if they’re on a trellis.

Keep beets partially shaded and they’ll thrive, even in relatively dry conditions.

Full sun on broccoli will lead to rapid flowering (which ruins the taste) while partial sun encourages tighter heads and slower flowering.

Although cabbage is broad-leafed, too much sun will dry it out and encourage smaller heads and bigger open leaves.

Too much sun and the carrot plant grows more foliage than root, so limiting sunlight means larger carrots.

Like broccoli, limiting sunlight to under 6 hours daily means tighter heads of cauliflower.

A popular spice, limiting sunlight will help keep the plants smaller and larger-leafed, which means more harvest and better taste.

Often confused with green onions because of the similar appearance, leeks thrive in cooler, more moist environments compared to regular root onions.

Root onions, like most root-based edibles, need less sun in order to encourage below-ground growth.

Like beans, peas will grow more plant than edible seeds if too much sun is given.

Again, with root plants like radishes, it’s all about encouraging root growth.

Similar to beets and onions in growth pattern, the rutabaga needs restricted sunlight in order to encourage deeper (larger) roots.

Similar to carrots, turnips tend to grow downwards when less sun is available to them.

Light Shade Vegetables

Vegetables that do well in less sunlight (2 to 4 hours) are often called “light shade” or “shaded” plants. Some “partial shade” plants are also light shade, such as cauliflower and many spices.

Being leafy, arugula would be expected to a sun-lover, but sunlight often droops and shrivels the leaves, so this is a good “under” plant to put underneath other, larger ones.

Brussels sprouts
This is also a cold-tolerant plant and like most cold-happy plants, Brussels sprouts do well with limited sunlight.

Endive is likely the most shade-loving of all the leafy lettuce-type plants.

Like its cousins in cabbages, kale loves cold weather and less light.

Leaf lettuce
Most lettuce plants prefer less sun.

Mustard greens
A popular plant in the U.S., this one is often grown in flower gardens and near porches where sunlight is limited.

Like lettuce, spinach needs cooler temperatures and less sun.

Swiss chard
Another delicate leafy plant, swiss chard doesn’t enjoy a lot of sunlight.

Even the most open of garden areas provides shade. Be creative with plant placement and you’ll find that you can create your own shaded areas to maximize conditions for each plant’s preference. Tall stalks of corn, for example, can provide partial shade for smaller radishes and peas, while heavy-leafed squash plants might provide near-permanent shade for smaller carrots or turnips.

Want to learn more about sun and shade loving vegetables?

Gardening in the Shade from University of Minnesota Extension
Where to Put Your Vegetable Garden, a PDF from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach

Peppers Like a Little Shade

Sweet peppers and hot chiles are an important part of almost everyone’s garden, though in different ratios for many! Some really enjoy an abundant late summer and fall harvest of sweet bell peppers while others look forward to the hot chile harvest for months ahead.

One of the main concerns with growing peppers or chiles is the drop off in both quality and production during the height of the summer heat. As the long, hot days of summer set in production drops while diseases increase such as blossom end-rot and sunscald. There are some surprisingly simple approaches that can make a big difference in this year’s harvest of your beloved sweet peppers and hot chiles!

Three Techniques to Boost Pepper Production

Mulching is one of the very first techniques that has been demonstrated as beneficial to both quality and quantity. Combined with a drip system on a timer, large improvements to the health and vitality of the plants can be seen quickly. These two factors improve the stability of the soil moisture levels, moderating the peaks and valleys from wet to dry. This reduces the stress levels on the plants as they are able to access water on a continuous basis. The mulch insulates the soil and top levels of roots from drying out too quickly and often brings the moisture level up to the surface of the soil, instead of a couple of inches down. Another benefit to mulching with at least an inch of straw type mulch is the temperature insulation of the soil. Reducing the heat gain in the upper levels of the soil improves the plant’s amount and quality of production.

Shading of the pepper plants was recently examined with experiments done in Mexico, Spain and Israel as well as by the University of Georgia. They studied different shade cloth levels impacts on pepper production from 2008 to 2010 with four different levels of shade alongside no shade as the standard. They measured the air temperatures and the soil temperatures and correlated these changes to improved or reduced quality and quantity of peppers. The amount of peppers lost to rejection for quality reasons were closely examined.

What the study has shown is a moderate amount of shade, such as a 30% shade cloth, is the ideal. More shade didn’t produce better peppers past the 30% shading. In fact, as more shade was applied, the plants grew more but produced less peppers with more defects that caused them to be rejected. The moderate shading reduced the heat stresses by lowering the air and root zone soil temperatures, while decreasing diseases such as sunscald and blossom end-rot.

Works for Tomatoes as Well

It is interesting for us to note that these exact same approaches have proven to be the key to successfully growing tomatoes through the hot summers in Phoenix and Tucson, where daytime highs can reach 110 – 115°F! The use of raised beds, drip systems on timers, thick straw mulching and shade cloth allows the pollen to be under the critical 90°F for enough of the day to continue producing tomatoes.

If you have had problems in the past with peppers, chiles or tomatoes slowing production and having disease issues with the onset of hot weather, try these growing tips to get you back on track!

The Benefits Of Shading Peppers | GrowingProduce

The Habanero Planting Guide: A To Zing


Ready to grow the most popular extra-hot chili?

Combining big heat and a delicious fruity flavor, the habanero pepper has built up quite the spicy reputation in the kitchen. And for those with a green thumb, growing habaneros is the perfect way to keep a continuous flow of these extra-hot chilies coming for weeks and weeks. So ready to get planting? Our habanero planting guide provides you the details you need to begin and succeed.

Habanero planting fast facts

Habanero Scoville heat units: Habanero peppers measure between 100,000 and 350,000 on the Scoville scale, with some varieties topping out at 450,000.

Light requirements: These plants need at least six hours of direct sunlight each day.

Soil requirements: The soil should be well drained before habanero planting and have a pH of between 6.2 and 7.0; it is best to mulch soil as this keeps plants warm and reduces water consumption.

Space requirements: Habanero plants should be placed at least 18 inches apart.

Water requirements: Plants should be watered deeply but waterings do not have to be frequent and the frequency should be decreased slightly once peppers show up.

Maturation: Habanero plants will usually be ready for harvesting within two to three months of planting. Peppers can be picked green or allowed to stay on the tree until they ripen to orange or bright red.

Plant size: Fully matured habanero plants can grow as high as seven feet but usually stay in the four to five foot range.

Chili size: Most habaneros measure between an inch and 2.5 inches long.

Container-friendly: Habanero plants are very container-friendly; it is possible to grow them in two-gallon containers but five-gallon or larger is ideal.

Where and when to grow habaneros

Experts recommend starting habanero seedlings outdoors at least six weeks after the last frost. These peppers do best in temperatures higher than 65 degrees with the ideal temperatures being closer to 80 degrees; however, they can be successfully cultivated in most climates. Note that habanero plants may not be as productive in areas with cooler summers. In these areas, it may be best to plant the seedlings in a location where they will have sunlight reflected onto them by a wall or fence.

Feeding and watering habanero plants

Avoid watering your habanero plants more than twice a week. Provide them with one inch of water over that time. Once peppers start to form, reduce watering. Less water during this stage can help to make the peppers hotter.

Fertilize habaneros once every two weeks with fish emulsion or spread an inch of aged compost around the base of plants. This is especially important once the plants have peppers.

When to pick habanero peppers

The color of the pepper at maturity will vary depending on the habanero variety, though the common habanero will be orange at maturity. Red Savina and Caribbean red habaneros will both be a deep red. Chocolate habaneros will take on a dark brown hue, while Peruvian white habaneros turn a pale white. There are many other varieties, so before starting your planting, learn what your chilies will look like when mature so you’re prepared to harvest at the right time. Make sure to pick all peppers before first frost. Use shears or a sharp knife to remove peppers from the plant since simply pulling them off can damage the branches.

Caring for your habanero plant: Potential issues

As with other peppers, daytime highs above 90 degrees may cause issues. Habaneros may drop flowers when temperatures enter this range.

While habaneros are less likely to suffer from pest infestations than other plants, it is still important to look out for slugs and aphids. In most cases, manually removing the pests will be sufficient but spraying with insecticide soap or neem oil may also be helpful. Spray your pepper plants every two weeks if you notice leaf-curling or other signs of an infestation.

Avoid over-watering as this can promote fungal diseases and wash soil nutrients away. In some cases, over-watering habaneros may make them bitter.

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How to water chillies in pots; what growing media to use?

How you water chillies will make a big difference to your growing success – and the right soil mix will help with this. Steve explains how in this video.

Steve’s top watering tips

  • Drainage is important (chilli roots must have air). If you are prone to over water or if you’re using an automatic watering system, you can improve drainage by adding perlite (10 – 30%) or grit.
  • Use a soil based compost – like ‘John Innes No.2’ if you can get it.
  • When you have planted a chilli in a new pot, feel the weight of the pot before watering it. Try to remember this weight – and avoid watering again until the pot has come back down to just above the unwatered weight again.
  • Chillies seem to do best with dry and wet cycles – so its best not to water them every day if possible.
  • As chillies grow bigger, they like to be moved into progressively slightly larger pots. For example, move a seedling from a three inch pot into a half litre, then one litre, then three litre – rather than from a three inch pot to a three litre one.

How to Feed Chillies

Chillies are less hungry than tomatoes but will still need regular feeding once they have used the food in their compost (usually after about six weeks). Large, heavily fruiting chillies, like Cherry Bomb, need substantially more feeding than smaller varieties that produce small chillies.

Steve’s top feeding tips

  • A high potassium or potash (K) feed is good for fruiting chillies (The potassium will help them fruit). You can make your own feed from comfrey leaves or use a tomato feed. If using tomato feed, use at slightly lower concentrations than suggested for tomatoes.
  • After heavily harvesting, a balanced liquid feed (one with equal N, P and K – see the side of the bottle) can help it to recover, and put on new growth.

Many thanks to Steve for sharing his knowledge and experience – I hope they will help guide you to chilli growing success.

For more on growing chillies in containers, including the amazing diversity of chillies, there are more videos with Steve in the Masterclasses.

Your turn

What’s your favourite favourite of chilli to grow in containers? I’d love to hear in the comments below.

How to grow chilli peppers

Learn how to grow chilli peppers with our helpful guide
Image: kawephoto

Growing chillies at home is easy, and there’s a huge variety of different types to choose from. Whether you want flavour, heat or colour, there’s a chilli pepper seed for every occasion.

Homegrown chillies can be delicately mild or fiercely hot. Incredibly versatile, you can grow them on sunny windowsills, in a greenhouse, or directly in the ground. They’re also perfect for containers and their brightly-coloured fruits are a great way to brighten up conservatories or patios. Here’s how to grow your own bumper crop of chillies from seeds or plants.

How to choose the best chilli pepper

Chillies are a colourful way to add heat to your recipes
Image: Chilli Pepper ‘Heatwave’ from Thompson & Morgan

Chillies contain a chemical called capsaicin that stimulates the nerve endings in your mucous membranes; that’s what makes them feel hot when you bite into one. The amount of heat depends on the variety, the maturity of the plant and the growing conditions.

The heat of each chilli is measured by the Scoville Scale. In 2017, Welsh fruit grower Mike Smith accidentally grew the world’s hottest specimen. Registering 2.48 million on the Scoville scale, experts say that just one of his ‘Dragon’s Breath’ chillies is enough to trigger anaphylactic shock!

Whether you like your chillies delicate and mild or sizzling hot, there’s plenty of choice. Try planting a few different varieties to find the one that suits you. Some of our favourites include:

  • • Big Bomb’ F1 – medium heat and a round shape ideal for stuffing and baking.
  • • Jalapeno – medium heat, ideal for salsas and pizza toppings.
  • • Padron’ – pick small and green for medium heat or allow to mature to a much hotter red. This tapas pepper is great in stir fries.
  • • Heatwave’ – hot and beautifully ornamental.
  • • Demon Red’ – very hot, attractive dwarf variety bred for windowsills and containers.
  • • Tropical Heat’ – extremely hot mix of red and orange Caribbean ‘Habenero’, plus yellow and red ‘Scotch Bonnets’.

How to grow chillies from seed

To reach maximum growth chillies need plenty of warmth.
Image: Jiri Foltyn

January and February are the perfect months to start sowing your chilli pepper seeds indoors. Although you can still sow the seeds right up until the end of March, early sowing gives your chillies plenty of time to ripen before the end of summer.

The hottest varieties need the longest growing period. If you didn’t give yourself enough time to grow from seed this year, don’t worry, you can buy chilli plants too. Here’s how to grow your own chillies from seed:

  • • Start your seeds off indoors – they need plenty of warmth to germinate.
  • • Fill a seed tray or some 10cm pots with moist seed compost and flatten down.
  • • Sow a few seeds on top and cover with a fine sprinkling of vermiculite or compost.
  • • Place in a propagator at a temperature of 18-25C (64-77F). If you don’t have a propagator, use polythene to cover your seed trays and pop them on a sunny windowsill or in a warm airing cupboard.
  • • Germination usually takes 7-10 days, after which you can move your seedlings to a warm, sunny windowsill (or heated greenhouse).
  • • Keep the compost evenly moist but take care not to let it get soaking wet.

How to transplant chilli pepper plants

When they’re big enough, transplant chillies into larger pots
Image: Marsan

When your chilli seedlings are big enough to handle without breaking, gently transplant them from seed trays into individual pots of compost and grow them on until all risk of frost has passed. When they’re large enough, you can transplant them to their final position, which is usually about May.

You can grow chillies individually, by transplanting them into 2 litre containers, or plant them in grow bags, allowing three plants per bag. Place the pots or growbags undercover in a warm greenhouse, conservatory, or polytunnel.

Alternatively, plant your chillies outside in a sunny, sheltered spot. Gradually acclimatise your plants to outdoor conditions over a period of 7 to 10 days before transplanting them into well prepared beds of fertile, moist, well-drained soil. Space your chilli pepper plants 50cm (20″) apart in the ground.

How to grow on chilli pepper plants

Use a high potash tomato fertiliser to get the best harvest
Image: Victority

Water your chilli plants regularly throughout the growing season, and once the first fruits have set, feed them weekly with a high potash tomato fertiliser. Also remember to:

  • • Pinch out the growing tip of the first flowering shoots to promote more branching and a better harvest.
  • • Water regularly but sparingly. It’s best to keep your soil a little on the dry side because slightly stressing your chilli plants helps to produce hotter peppers. Taller varieties of chilli pepper may require staking.
  • • Add a thick mulch of organic matter around the base of the plants to help conserve moisture and suppress weed growth.

Growing chillies indoors? Do remember to open windows and doors to provide insects access to the flowers to ensure good pollination. Alternatively, hand pollinate the chillies by moving from flower to flower, tickling the centre of each with a fine artist’s paint brush.

When to harvest chillies

Harvest your chillies before the colder months.
Image: Thompson & Morgan

Chillies require warmth and long sunny days to ripen properly. From an early sowing, this shouldn’t be a problem, but later sowings in the UK may leave your peppers feeling the cold as summer days begin to shorten.

Chillies are usually ready to start harvesting in about July. The more you pick, the more chillies your plant will grow. Towards the end of the season you might like to leave chillies on the plant a little longer, allowing them to mature until they achieve a deep red colour and intense flavour. This will let the plant know to produce less fruit, so wait until you’re ready to slow down.

If the weather starts to cool before your crop has fully ripened, bring your plants indoors and let them ripen on a warm sunny windowsill. Harvest chillies one at a time by cutting them from the plant with secateurs. Chilli peppers grown outdoors must be harvested before the first frost.

How do you store chillies?

By drying or freezing your chillies, you can preserve their taste
Image: Mr Aesthetics

To preserve your chillies to enjoy over the winter, you can dry them or freeze them:

  • • How to dry chilli peppers: Take a needle, and thread the stems of the chilli peppers together on some twine so that they form a “daisy chain”. Hang them in a warm, well-ventilated spot and let them air dry over a period of 4 to 5 weeks.
  • • How to freeze chilli peppers: Freeze chillies in freezer bags straight after picking, without any further preparation. After you defrost your chillies, you’ll find the flesh slightly softened, but don’t worry, they’ll taste just as good as they did when you picked them.

For a quick recap and some chilli growing tips, check out the short video below:

Do you love growing chillies? Let us know on our Facebook page – and if you have pictures of your crop, please share!

You Should Start Watering Pepper Plants When…?

This is a common question. The simple answer – Begin watering pepper plants when they need it. Such a sarcastic answer, I know. Seriously, peppers should be watered in moderation. In general, pepper plants are usually thirsty and need a fair amount of water. However, they don’t like it if their roots are constantly sitting in waterlogged soil. Well tilled soil should drain fine, but still allow adequate water to penetrate the root system. It is normal for pepper plants to wilt slightly in the mid-day heat during summer months. They will usually recover overnight. If they are wilted in the morning hours, it’s time to start watering.

When watering pepper plants, concentrate your efforts where the stem meets to soil. Avoid watering to the tops of the plants as this can encourage diseases and fungi to develop.
A drip irrigation system will work nicely, but they can expensive to purchase and install. A soaker hose can be just as effective. Don’t use a spray nozzle on the end of a regular garden hose as you may accidentally damage the plant. You’re also more likely to get too much water on the tops of the plants. Instead, use a water jug or place the open end of a hose at the base of the pepper plants and run the water slowly.

If no rain falls, watering pepper plants every week is a good idea. You should check the moisture level of the soil every few days. Use your fingers and dig down 3-4 inches in the soil next to the plants. The soil should be moist, but not wet and sticky. If it’s dry, it’s time to water.

It’s a good idea to water plants in the morning hours. This will allow the mid-day sun to evaporate any excess water. Avoid watering plants in the evening as wet plants sitting overnight are more likely to develop fungal problems.

Do your best to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. This will encourage your pepper plants to produce high quality and high quantities of fruit.

These watering tips also apply to pepper plants grown in containers. A container with good drainage holes will prevent the soil from becoming waterlogged.

Growing Peppers In Planters: How To Grow Pepper Plants In A Container

Peppers, especially chili peppers, hold a special place in many gardens. These vibrant and delicious vegetables are fun to grow and can also be decorative. Just because you don’t have a garden to grow peppers doesn’t mean that you can’t grow them. Growing peppers in planters is easy. Plus, when you grow peppers in pots, they can double as decorative plants on your patio or balcony.

Growing Peppers in Containers

Container garden peppers need two important things: water and light. These two things will determine where you will grow pepper plants in a container. First, your peppers will need five or more hours of direct sunlight. The more light they can get, the better they will grow. Second, your pepper plant is entirely dependent on you for water, so make sure that your container growing pepper plant is located somewhere that you will be able to easily get water to it on a daily basis.

When planting your pepper plant into the container, use organic, rich potting soil; don’t use regular garden soil. Regular garden soil can compact and harm the roots while potting soil will stay aerated, giving the roots room to grow well.

As mentioned, a pepper plant will need to get nearly all of its water from you. Because the roots of a pepper plant cannot spread out into the soil to look for water (like they would if they were in the ground), it needs to be watered frequently. You can expect to water your pepper plant in a container at least once a day when the temperature is above 65 F. (18C.) and twice a day when the temperatures rise above 80 F. (27 C.)

Pepper plants are self-pollinating, so they don’t technically need pollinators to help them set fruit, but pollinators can help the plant set more fruit than it normally would. If you’re growing peppers in planters in a location that could be difficult for bees and other pollinators to get to, like a high balcony or an enclosed porch, you may want to try hand pollinating your pepper plants. This can be done one of two ways. First, you can give each pepper plant a gentle shake a few times a day while it is in bloom. This helps the pollen distribute itself to the plant. The other is to use a small paint brush and swirl it inside each open blossom.

Container garden peppers can be fertilized with compost tea or a slow release fertilizer once a month.

Growing peppers in containers can be fun and makes these tasty vegetables available to many gardeners who don’t have a traditional, in-the-ground garden.

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