How to Plant and Grow Jalapeño Peppers

Jalapeno peppers are a type of chili pepper . The word “jalapeño” is is a deviation of the Spanish word meaning “from Jalapa” a city in Mexico, where the pepper was originally cultivated. Jalapeños are an annual that can be grown as a perennial in some zones if protected from frost.

Annual – That can also be grown as a perrenial in some circumstances

Zones: 5-12

Soil: Loamy – Well Drained

pH Level: 6.5 – 7.5

Light: Full Sun

Spacing; 12 -18 Inches

Row Spacing 2 -3 Feet

Maturity: Up to 150 Days

Fruit Size: 4 – 6 Inches Average length

Water moderately

The most common varieties of jalapeño peppers are variant shades of green and red, however there are dozens of varieties that come in a spectrum of orange yellow and purple as well. They range from 2,500 to 10,000 on the scoville scale, a system used to measure the intensity of heat and spiciness in foods. The higher a peppers number on the scoville scale the more intense the flavor and heat. Jalapenos are not the hottest pepper around but they are a contender.

For best results place peppers plants in a full sun light. Jalapeños need a bare minimum of 6-8 hours daily of full sunlight.

Provide a sandy loam soil with ample organic matter that is well draining.

Spacing varies depending on the anticipated mature height and girth, but as a rule of thumb 16 – 18 inches for larger plants and 12 – 14 for smaller ones. Rows should be spaced 2 – 3 feet.

Hot peppers take longer than sweet peppers to reach their full masochistic maturity, sometimes up to 150 days. Most seed packets list a maturity date that calculates the time from when a transplant is placed in the ground till when you can harvest mature peppers.

Peppers are best started indoors in late winter or early spring 6 – 10 weeks before the last frost date. Start from seeds and then transplant into the garden when night-time temperatures in your region are consistently above 50 degrees. [ The optimal soil temperature for peppers is 65 degrees F or warmer during their active growth period]

If you are buying transplants from a nursery , select sturdy plants that have at least 4 sets of true leaves. Avoid pepper plants that have already flowered, and inspect plants for spots or lesions on them which should be rejected.

The average jalapeño is harvested 3.5 months after planting, they average 4 – 6 inches long. Common jalapeños are ready to harvest when they are firm and bright green or whatever variant color you planted. They can also be left on the plant all the way until they turn red for a hotter jalapeño.

Good candidates to companion plant with peppers include: corn, onions, garlic and other alliums, marigolds, carrots, parsnips, and beans.

Separation from other peppers is advisable. Peppers easily cross – pollinate and your hot jalapeno might end up messing around with a sweet pepper from the other side of the tracks. The end result will be a bland jalapeño.

Tips to Growing a Hotter Pepper


Jalapeño peppers will produce peppers with the same amount of watering that you give your other vegetable garden plants – HOWEVER if you want a truly fiery hot jalapeño you must remember that water puts the fire out. After blossom set and the first appearance of baby jalapeños cut back on the water – do not starve them, but only water when the foliage starts to droop a tad.

Nitrogen is represented by the first number on the “NPK Ratio” of any fertilizer. It is an essential nutrient needed by all plant life. In the case of fruit bearing plants such as jalapeño peppers too much nitrogen will produce lush plants with excess foliage but a lower quantity and quality of peppers. Avoid high nitrogen fertilizers for a higher quality hot pepper.

Nitrogen is needed for optimal pod production – but in moderation.


Hot pepper plants produce best when there is abundant sulfur in the soil. A simple trick is to toss a few matches in each planting hole – uhhh you do know NOT to light the matches – right. Matches contain sulfur, and they’re more cost effective than buying bags of sulfur.

Epsom Salt

When Blossoms appear a foliar spray of diluted epsom salts and water promotes fruiting. A teaspoon of epsom salt per quart is the best ratio. See – Epsom Salts as Fertilizer. Some people use hydrogen peroxide – but the benefits are questionable.


Hot peppers like good wine get better with age. The longer they age, the spicier and hotter they become. The capsaicin in the pepper increases as they age, so if you can wait until they are actually over ripe – in most cases red – you’ll be harvesting peppers that are hot hot hot

Related: Preserving Hot Peppers