Growing Jalapenos in Pots | Indoor And Outdoor

There are an estimated 50,000 chilli pepper (Capsicum annuum) cultivars growing around the world. Of these thousands, the jalapeño is easily one of the most popular — it is the most popular chilli pepper in North America.

Jalapeños aren’t just delicious. These peppers are also quite easy to grow. You don’t even need an in-ground garden to grow jalapeño plants of your own!

In this article, I’ll offer expert tips and tricks for growing jalapeños in pots. So keep reading for everything you need to grow successful jalapeño peppers from seed to harvest either indoors or out.

How To Grow Jalapenos in Pots

In my experience, jalapeños thrive in pots when given proper care. As long as you have a large enough container for your pepper plant, growing it in a pot will be no harder than growing it in the garden.

One of the advantages of planting jalapeños in containers is that you can relocate them as needed throughout the season. For example, you may start your plants indoors in the spring but move them outdoors during the peak of summer. 

Potted Jalapeno in my glasshouse
Potted Jalapeno in my glasshouse

Indoor Vs Outdoor-Grown Jalapenos

Container-grown jalapeños kept outdoors require relatively similar care to those planted in the ground. Keep an eye on the soil’s moisture level — potted plants dry out much faster than those in garden beds — and move the container to a sheltered location if there is any risk of frost.

If you live in a cooler climate, then keeping potted jalapeños indoors is a great way to extend the growing season. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that your plants probably won’t get enough sunlight from a bright window alone. I recommend investing in a grow light as well.

Jalapeno Plant Growth Cycle

Jalapeño peppers are easily grown from seed or young starter plants and relatively easy to care for through each of the growth stages. If you have the time and patience to start your kitchen garden from seeds, I highly recommend it.

When To Plant Jalapeno Seeds

Jalapeño seeds must be planted 8 to 10 weeks before the region’s last frost date if they are to be transplanted to an in-ground bed. If you plan to grow your peppers in containers, however, timing is not as important.

For containers that will be kept outdoors — either in the garden or in a sheltered location like a covered patio — I still recommend adhering to the timeline above. Gardeners living in cooler climates will want to start seeds indoors. If you live in a particularly warm area, though, you may be able to sow seeds in outdoor containers directly.

Waiting For Germination

Chilli pepper seeds require moisture and heat to germinate. I recommend placing a heat mat set to at least 70°F beneath jalapeños started indoors. In ideal conditions, jalapeños will germinate in about 2 weeks. Keep the soil consistently moist but never soggy during this time.

Transplanting

I recommend transplanting jalapeño seedlings to larger containers when they begin to outgrow their original pots.

Jalapeños should only be moved outdoors when the daytime temperature is at least 70°F and the nighttime temperature stays above 60°F. Be sure to harden off seedlings before relocating them outside permanently.

Caring For Jalapenos Grown in Pots 

The main thing to keep in mind when growing vegetables in pots are that they will be a bit more dependent on you to meet their needs than those growing in the ground. But with the right container and a basic routine that provides moisture, nutrition, and adequate sunlight, nearly anyone can grow jalapeños at home.

Choosing Pots and Containers

The best container for a jalapeño plant is a 5-gallon pot. You can also use a smaller pot — no less than 2 gallons in volume — but be aware that your pepper plants will probably not grow as big. 

Remember that adequate drainage is just as important as container size. If you don’t care about appearance, a plastic bucket from your local hardware store with a hole drilled near the bottom will do the trick. 

Soil Requirements

Choose a rich potting mix that is lightweight and drains well. I strongly recommend using a mix that contains some organic matter as well. Alternatively, you can amend regular potting soil with aged compost for a boost of nutrition.

Position

Pepper plants need full sunlight. Place outdoor containers somewhere that receive at least 6 to 8 hours of unobstructed sunlight during the day. Jalapeños grown indoors generally need supplemental light from a to-grow lamp to survive.

Watering Needs

Peppers are very susceptible to overwatering. As a general rule, you should only water when the top couple of inches of soil are dry to the touch.

With that said, containers can dry out incredibly fast. Keep a close eye on potted jalapeños located outdoors to ensure they don’t completely dry out in the sun.

Fertilizing

Feed throughout the growing season using a fertilizer designed for vegetables (any formula advertised for tomato plants should work on jalapeños). In most cases, slow-release fertilizer is ideal.

When your jalapeño plants start to flower, you may want to switch to fertilizer designed to boost fruit production. In my experience, though, this isn’t really necessary if the plant has received proper nutrition throughout its lifetime.

Staking

Particularly large jalapeño plants may require support, especially as they start to bear fruit. I like to use small tomato cages or stakes for this purpose. Typically I find that I need more than one bamboo cane as the plants will have three or maybe four stems requiring support when fruiting.

Jalapeno plant with bamboo stake
Fruiting Jalapeno plant with a bamboo stake

Pruning

As your jalapeño grows, feel free to prune away small stems that appear thin or weak compared to the rest of the plant. While occasional pruning can improve the structure of the plant, be careful not to remove too much stem tissue.

Common Problems

Container-grown jalapeños are less vulnerable to certain diseases than those grown in garden beds. However, there are still some problems you’ll want to watch for in your plants:

  • Yellowing leaves — Typically caused by a nutrient deficiency or overwatering
  • Curled leaves — May be caused by excess sunlight or overwatering
  • Pest damage — Common pests on peppers include aphids, spider mites, and thrips

Proper maintenance will stave off most issues caused by watering, nutrition, or the environment. You can control pests using horticultural oil or insecticidal soap.

When Are Jalapenos Ready To Harvest

Your jalapeños will likely be ready to harvest 70 to 80 days after planting. Some cultivars take longer to mature than others, however, so I suggest double-checking the average harvest time of your chosen pepper type.

Ripe Jalapenos ready for harvesting
Ripe Jalapenos ready for harvesting

What Does a Ripe Jalapeno Look Like

Most ripe jalapeños are 2 to 4 inches long and maybe green or red when harvested. (Fruit appearance can vary slightly between cultivars — e.g., some peppers will start as purple rather than green.)

All jalapeño peppers will eventually turn red if left on the plant but it’s very common to harvest the peppers when they are still green. Green jalapeños are just beginning to ripen and tend to be less spicy than their fully red counterparts.

How Long Will A Jalapeno Plant Bear Fruit?

A healthy jalapeño plant will typically produce fruit for 30 to 45 days after the first peppers emerge. However, disease or subpar growing conditions may cut this production period short.

How To Harvest Jalapeno Peppers 

Harvest jalapeños by cutting ripe peppers from the plant using a clean blade or set of shears. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, jalapeños harvested with short stems attached tend to keep longer in storage.

While jalapeños are far from the spiciest chilli cultivar to exist, I still strongly recommend wearing gloves or washing your hands immediately after handling. Be careful to not rub your eyes while harvesting jalapeños!

You can store fresh jalapeños in the fridge, pickle them, or turn them into salsa. Alternatively, peppers can be air- or oven-dried for long-term storage.

FAQ’s Growing Jalapenos in Pots And Containers

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Ben's horticultural interest grew when graduating from Hertfordshire University in 1997. Having contributed to numerous publications including Better Homes & Gardens, Garden Design Magazine, and The English Garden. He is also the author of Propagating Houseplants Made Easy.