How and When to Water Pepper Plants

One of the most common problems people have while growing peppers is over watering. Pepper plants need a lot less water than people think and regardless of whether the pepper plant is growing in a pot, raised bed or directly in the ground too much water is one of the worst things you can do to your plants. Over watering can stunt growth, washes away nutrients and invites pests and disease.

If you are growing your peppers in pots you will need to water much more frequently than if you were growing them in the ground. As a general rule you should water when the plants are wilting, but, make sure it’s not just due to excessive heat. When it’s very hot…say 95 degrees+ pepper plants in the direct sun may wilt during the day. This is normal and is just the plants way of reducing the surface area exposed to the sun to help keep it cool. When I grow in pots before I water I like to see some non sun related wilt and I check the pot to make sure it’s bone dry. Often while growing peppers in pots the top of the soil is dry but the bottom is mud. This can happen very easily especially if the pot does not have great drainage. If the pot is completely dry and there’s a little non sun related wilt (best time to check is earlier in the morning or in the evening when the plants are not in direct sun) I give each pot a good soaking. I like to see just a little bit of water coming out of the bottom. Too much and you just wash out your nutrients so soak them but not to excess.

If your pepper plants are growing in raised beds or in the ground a lot of the same rules apply. The main difference is you will find that you need to water much less frequently than when growing in pots. It’s not unusual for me to water my plants in pots every day – sometimes even twice – vs my plants in raised beds that can at times go for weeks in a row without water. When watering my plants in ground/beds I give them a long soaking to really get the soil 6+ inches deep really wet. Infrequent deep watering encourages deep roots which leads to plants that can go longer without water.

If you have any questions or comments about watering peppers feel free to leave them below.

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293 Responses to How and When to Water Pepper Plants

  1. Jazun says:

    Thank you for this post i was overwatering my pepper plants for sure

    • pepperseed says:

      @jazun – I think too much water / over watering is one of the most issues I see people running into when they are growing peppers. I try and never water them until they are actually wilting. Sometimes in the summer it can be weeks in between watering even if there’s no rain. I’m always surprised how long peppers can go without water…they are like the camel of the pepper world! Hope you stopped over watering your plants soon enough that they didn’t get “sick”, good luck with your grow!

      • Twitch says:

        Thank you so much for these tips, and I really appreciate the comment you left where you said “Sometimes in the summer it can be weeks in between watering…”.
        I had no idea! I thought I was doing something wrong haha…I am very new to growing plants, and I figured pepper plants needed to be watered MUCH more frequently!

        Now I know, so thank you!!

        • pepperseed says:

          Glad to have helped, good luck with your plants!

          • Yijie says:

            Ummm just wondering when do you water the plant morning evening night I don’t know can anybody help by the way tell me about chili peppers not peppers but if you don’t know tell me about peppers I think they are still the same

      • JSamms says:

        I am getting close to putting my pepper plants in ground. Wouldn’t the rain take care of the watering? Actually, wouldn’t the rain cause overwatering? My first time growing. Thank you.

        • pepperseed says:

          Just make sure there’s goo drainage where you’re planting and unless there’s a flood you wont have to worry about over watering from the rain.

      • Caile says:

        I have a small pepper plant in a hanging pot. I live in a condo with a covered deck.. Not much sun for my little plant. I could put it on the corner of my balcony but I’m afraid that the coastal winds will blow it away.. Any suggestions?

        • Jigger says:

          Hello Caile,
          Find a way to get your pepper plant, at least, a few hours of direct sunlight. If need be, I would transplant the little guy in a bigger pot and anchor it down or put pebble or river rock in the bottom of the pot, to get it direct sunlight.

        • Landon says:

          Pepper plants need around six hrs of DEEP sun. DEEP sun means the hottest hrs of the day….they r HOT veg 4 a reason. Make use of your sourroundings, u obviously care, luv the seed u plant. They r fickle beasts…remember, peppers grow best in arid area’s

      • Carlos says:

        Hi Pepperseed. Nice info. No wonder I killed 2 of my plants. Summer is coming and it gets really hot between 100 and 115 degrees in my city. Do I need some kind of screen to protect my plants? Some straw on the ground to prevent cooking the roots? I hope you could answer this please. Thank you

        • pepperseed says:

          @Carlos some mulch or straw will definitely help. Your plants will still probably wilt during the day with those Temps but that’s normal and nothing to worry about.

          • Carlos says:

            Thanks for taking the time to answer. I will definitely throw some straw and won’t be worry about the sun anymore. Thanks again

          • I have bell peppers planted in wiskey barrels.I water them three times a week with stremers for 5 min. . the bells come up fine ,but the look burnt out.What am i doing wrong?Thank you

      • Dadi jon says:

        How much in ml do you e
        Water

    • Nathan says:

      What about brand new seedlings with only one set of leaves? should the soil still be wet as through germination? I had no problems getting the seeds to sprout, but not they are all wilting on me and some in a matter of hours from being healthy looking. They have been in the sun, but it’s still cool although I live in Spain, and I’ve been trying to water them as often as they look like they need it, but recently they’ve started to all look a bit sad and just in one day 3 of my ten all wilted down and I tried to water them to bring them back and I’m not sure that’s the correct thing to do or not… Can you help with more specific details of dos and donts for seedlings please? Help from anyone really. Thanks

      • Jigger says:

        Hello Nathan,
        I myself, start my seedlings indoors. From my experience, I have learned to put my new sprouts under artificial lighting, within a few inches. My first year or two of growing, my new seedlings were starting to fall over. I learned that I had the light too far away. The seedlings were stretching to get to the light, they were going too tall too fast, so I had to lower the lights, closer to the plants. I never used direct sunlight until a week before I plant outdoors.
        As far as watering, when they are very young seedlings, I like to keep the soil moist. As the plant matures, it will be able to go longer between waterings.

      • Jay says:

        Make sure you use room temperature water ,if the water is to cold they will drop.

    • Adi says:

      Hey, thanks for the tip! I have a question as a first time pepper grower. I’ve come to the flower stagw. It seems like they open, but not fully and then starts to dry. Is that normal? Am I doing somwthing wrong? Thanks!

      • pepperseed says:

        @adi flower drop is pretty common. I wouldn’t worry about it. When the conditions are right peppers will form.

  2. Tylermc94 says:

    My pepers are growing fine but I think I might be overwatering them. The leaves are turning brown on the tips and then they eventually fall off. Is that because Im overwatering them?

    Thanks

  3. Dave says:

    I have Jalapenos and Serrano peppers growing in pots on my south facing balcony. Here in Colorado we usually get a bunch of sun and very little rain and I usually water them about twice a day. However this May has been very wet and rainy. Last evening I water them as the sun was setting only to wake up this morning to a torrential rain fall. I decided to pull the peppers inside against the window in case the sun peaks its head out. Was this the right move? Or am I over thinking over-watering?

    • pepperseed says:

      Hi Dave, It really comes down to consistency. If your pepper plants are consistently over watered for weeks in a row you’re inviting trouble. The occasional heavy 1 – 3 day soaking won’t hurt anything. Since your plants are in pots outside make sure they have great drainage and you can just leave them out in the rain. They will dry out fast enough when the rain is done and you shouldn’t have any issues.

  4. Joe says:

    I bought some Jolokia seed peppers, planted them in and 18-egg egg tray. 3 sprouted and grew about 1 1/2 inches. I figured it was time to plant them in something bigger. When moving them I found 2 of them had their roots touching the carton and growing into it. I moved all 3 to a plastic gallon milk carton with the top cut off, gave them some water, and covered the top of the pot with saran wrap (with many small holes). I leave them on a south facing window all day and am noticing them begin to wilt. I poured some water out today, but was also thinking that the recent hot weather here in Sonoma County might be the cause. Can you find anything wrong with what I’ve done so far and how I might improve?

    Thanks

    • pepperseed says:

      Hi Joe,

      Sounds like a classic case of too much water/humidity. You don’t need to cover the top of the carton with anything, that will trap heat and moisture and invite disease. You said you poured some water out…if there’s enough water to pour out there’s way too much water 🙂

      I would take off the cover, make sure the carton has sufficient drainage (cut holes in the bottom) and only water the plants when the soil is completely dried out. Its hard to kill a pepper from lack of water but very easy to kill a pepper plat with too much water. Good luck and let us know how your plants turn out!

  5. Matt says:

    I have 5 different types of hot peppers (super chili, jalapeño, Caribbean red hot, a Mexican hot mix and a Portuguese hot mix) growing in 4 inch pots under a light set up with 16 hours of light a day. They are growing in a soil-less mix and I have fertilized (what I consider lightly) with a 10-52-10 seed starter fertilizer. I rotate plants weekly and water almost everyday. They are about a month old now and I have been noticing that some leaves on some plants are becoming droopy and starting to curl. Also some lower leaves are purple or starting to brown. Is this from over watering or not fertilizing correctly? How do I correct and have I done any permanent damage.?

    • pepperseed says:

      Hi Matt, you’re likely over watering and/or fertilizing. Cut back on both and should bounce back pretty quick.

  6. troy says:

    First time pepper grower, I have sweet banana, Serrano, habeñero, and jalepeño pepper seed….I was wondering which is better in my area (upper peninsula of Michigan) soil germination or the wet paper towel method? Either way, I have to get them in soil withing the next 2 wks at the latest.

    • pepperseed says:

      Hi Troy, I would just use the soil method. I actually recently relocated to Duluth MN so we’re in a similar climate / growing season and am using the soil method. Good luck with this year’s grow!

  7. joey says:

    My pepper leafs are folding a bit, does this mean I am over watering or under watering? I have a drip system in the ground and I have it running for an hour every 2 days (2 gph) I also live in so calif. so it is warm and sunny. Any ideas?

    • pepperseed says:

      Could be. Even with a drip they likely don’t need water every other day. I only water when the soil is bone dry and the plants are starting to wilt.

  8. Montrell Coley says:

    Two quick questions how long do I need to leave my new plants in the grow pod b4 tranplanting them into larger pots? And I just bought a plant already started and it was mailed. The leaves are hanging and the stem has bent over is this a simple water and light fix?

    • pepperseed says:

      @Montrell how big are the grow pods? I “pot up” once roots start forming and things get root bound.

      Yes, the bought plant that was shipped to you probably just needs a few days of light and water to get back to normal. Shipping is hard on them!

  9. Montrell Coley says:

    I pods are starting to grow their third set of leaves but are still a small

  10. Russell Williams says:

    Hello all!! Im growing a trinidad scorpion and over the last week all the leaves are falling off, ive had it about a year now, never had any chillies from it as it flowers and then it loses them too, what am i doing wrong?

    • pepperseed says:

      @ Russell…indoor pepper plant I assume?

      • Russell Williams says:

        Yes, then outside when the suns out, i dont water until the leaves wilt,

      • Russell Williams says:

        Well theres not alot of sun at the moment, but when it is sunny its out for as long as possible.
        No pests as checked today and going to change all the soil tomorrow, i use a tomato plant food once every two weeks, only a dribble as want it to be as wild as possible,

        • pepperseed says:

          My favorite list of potential reasons for pepper flower drop. I would check these items and maybe try adjusting them one at a time to see if you can identify the problem. Peppers in pots can be finicky!

          Flower drop probable causes:
          1. Day temp too high >95F
          2. Night temp too low <65F
          3. Too much nitrogen fertilizer
          4. Too much water
          5. Low light levels (reduces fertility).
          6. Very low humidity (reduces fertility)
          7. Poor air circulation (air circulation contributes to pollination).
          8. Lack of pollinating insects.
          9. Size of pot
          10. Too much mineral in feedwater.
          11. Too much grower attention.

          • Mat Rose says:

            You’re the man @pepperseed, without asking a single question all of my questions and concerns have been answered regarding my peppers. Reading this thread, I feel as if I have to plead guilty to #11 – too much grower attention. Thanks for the advise and the information dump. It is greatly appreciated!

      • Russell Williams says:

        Ok will check it in the morning, thank you very much for your advice, very helpfull!!
        Thanks again, russell.

      • Jim says:

        Hi Russell, I live in billings montana I have 30 trinidads,30 Carolina reapers, and 30 habs. They are new plants every year. I start inside seeds in Feb. Some plants I transplanted yesterday are 2″ long or less, all these plants are facing east against my house so they only get half-a-day sun, that’s it. My yield every year is out standing. The trick I figured is after the season is over, I over dose the soil with calcium,any form. Then the following season treat your superhots like any other vegie because your soil is established, you can’t establish soil during growing season, that’s a wish that will never happen. So If your luck is rough this year start your soil establishment early for next year, then get back with me with your results. GOODLUCK! Russell.

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