Small hot pepper plants probably won't need a support structure.

Do Pepper Plants Need Support?

by Casandra Maier

Peppers (Capsicum annuum) were grown in Mexico around 7,500 B.C. Peppers are grown as a warm-season annual crop in all climates. In U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 11, they may grow as perennials. Depending on the size of your pepper plant, you may need supports to keep the stems and branches sturdy because the development of peppers adds weight to your plants.

1. When Peppers Need Support

Pepper plants begin to produce fruits approximately two months after the seedlings are transplanted into the ground. Supports are needed for larger pepper plants that produce heavy fruits, especially bell peppers as they reach maturity. The size of mature pepper plants depends on the variety you are growing. Smaller hot pepper varieties do not typically require support. Supports keep the stems and branches of the plant from bending and toppling over under the weight of the fruits. If your garden is exposed to strong winds, supports can help keep your pepper plants upright in wind and rainstorms.

2. Support Types

The same supports you would use for tomatoes will work for pepper plants. Consider using metal or wooden stakes to which you can tie the branches and stems of the plant. Bamboo stakes look attractive, and come in straight and U-shaped varieties. U-shaped bamboo stakes are used to make arch supports. Bamboo is also effective for creating a pepper corral, using strategically placed horizontal and vertical stakes at intervals around your peppers. Cone-shaped tomato cages are also large enough to support growing pepper plants.

3. Installing Supports

Pepper support stakes and cages must be at least 3 feet tall to support the mature height of your plants. Drive your support stakes at least 12 inches into the soil so they will be stable. One stake or cage per plant offers enough support. Tie the pepper plants to the support structure using twine or zip ties.

4. Considerations

Pepper plants are tender plants that are easily injured or knocked over due to their shallow root systems. When injured or stressed, peppers often lose flowers or become susceptible to blossom end rot and crop yields are not as prolific. To avoid shock or injury to the plant’s root system, install your support structure before transplanting your seedlings or sowing seeds into your garden.

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