Peppers (Capsicum) require a temperature of no less than 50 degrees Fahrenheit just to survive. To set fruit and thrive, both sweet and hot chillies generally need a temperature range between 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. If you live in a cooler climate and have an outdoor garden, it can be difficult to keep your pepper plants warm enough. Beyond bringing potted plants indoors, you can use a few key processes that provide the warmth they need to produce an abundant harvest.
1 Position black plastic mulch over your growing area or planting container, and cut an "X" shape for each pepper plant so you can insert the plants through the holes. The plastic mulch absorbs the heat of the sun and helps keep the soil warm.
2 Fill clear jugs with water, and place them around your plants. The water in these jugs absorbs the heat of the sun and keeps your peppers warm at night when the temperatures drop.
3 Lay a floating row cover over the tops of your plants in the evening when the sun starts to go down. This lightweight fabric helps keep the environment warmer and serves as a temporary greenhouse. Remove the row covers in the morning so that insects can continue to pollinate the pepper flowers.
Items you will need
- Black plastic mulch
- Clear jugs
- Floating row cover
- Jugs of water
- Plastic milk gallons (optional)
- 5-gallon containers (optional)
- If your pepper plants are still small, you can create your own hot caps to cover each plant at night. Cut the bottoms of plastic milk gallons off, and then position them over the top of each plant. This creates an insulating environment that protects them from unexpected frost and heavy rain.
- Always keep your pepper plants well watered so they are hydrated enough to survive the cooler temperatures. Generally, 2 inches of water a week is ideal.
- Don't move your pepper plants outside until the last threat of frost has passed. If necessary, you can dig up your plants, and temporarily keep them in 5-gallon containers so you can move them into a warmer area such as a covered patio or a garage.
- Colorado State University Extension: Growing Warm Season Vegetables
- Colorado State University: The Use of Floating Row Covers
- The Complete Chile Pepper Book: A Gardener's Guide to Choosing, Growing, Preserving, and Cooking; Dave DeWitt, Paul W. Bosland
- The Ohio State University: Seed ID Workshop
- Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images