A Capsicum, or pepper plant, has the potential to grow tall, or leggy, which could cause it to fall over and not produce many chilies. Pruning prevents this. By strategically cutting away limbs and pinching off early flowers, you will help your plant grow into a strong bush with a secure center of gravity that keeps it from being too top heavy. You also will enable the plant to continuously produce throughout the growing season so you can enjoy a bigger harvest.
1 Pinch off early buds and flowers until the plant's stem and limbs thicken up. Although you'll lose a few early peppers, cutting away these blossoms helps the plant develop a stronger root system that can properly support a lot of chilies.
2 Prune off smaller branches by cutting just under the "Y" shape where two limbs come together. This task forces the plant to develop side shoots that help maintain a stronger structure.
3 Cut away any dead or diseased branches and foliage throughout the growing season to help with airflow and ensure the plant's energy goes into making more fruit. Dispose of these cuttings so they don't encourage pests.
4 Harvest peppers as they ripen so that you grow as much fruit as possible. Toward the end of the growing season, prune away immature fruit to allow the more mature peppers to finish growing.
Items you will need
- Gardening shears
- Household disinfectant
- Always make sure your gardening shears are clean before attempting to prune your plant so you don't inadvertently spread disease. Wipe away any debris on your shears, then spray a household disinfectant on the blades. Allow the disinfectant to remain for at least five minutes, then wash the shears with clean water.
- The Complete Chile Pepper Book: A Gardener's Guide to Choosing, Growing, Preserving, and Cooking; Dave DeWitt and Paul W. Bosland
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: Disinfecting Pruning Tools
- IT Stock Free/Polka Dot/Getty Images