TikTok's Gardening Community Gives Their Top Advice For Growing Peppers

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Growing peppers in your garden can be a delightful and gratifying experience, especially if you love a bit of spice in your meals or enjoy incorporating sweet peppers into different recipes. Luckily, it's pretty straightforward to grow your own peppers. However, if you've tried your hand at planting peppers and found it challenging or if your plants aren't producing as large of a harvest as you'd hoped, a few gardening tips could make a big difference. People looking for bite-sized, easily-reproducible tips know where to look: TikTok. The platform boasts a vibrant gardening community that's brimming with creative hacks and practical tips for quickly growing your pepper plant, as well as potential reasons why yours isn't doing so well. These tips include placing the plants in grow bags, using stakes, topping off your plants, and pruning or pinching them correctly.

Of course, it's important to remember that gardening tips aren't one-size-fits-all. For example, topping off your plant might not be the best strategy if you live in certain regions. Similarly, whether you should prune or pinch your plant depends on what you hope to achieve. Always make sure to tailor advice to your specific conditions and goals before applying them to your pepper plant. If you do, you may find that your harvest is bigger and better than it has been in years.

Grow your pepper plants in grow bags

Growing your pepper plants in grow bags offers a range of benefits. First, it reduces the likelihood of pests and protects your plants from diseases that may be in the soil. Additionally, in traditional containers, roots can become root-bound as they grow around and at the bottom of the container without air exposure, but this isn't a problem in grow bags. This is because they're made from breathable material that allows air to reach the roots, promoting a healthier root system by naturally drying them out. Pepper plants are also very sensitive to overwatering, but the excellent drainage from a grow bag's sides and bottom significantly reduces the risk of this.

Planting them in grow bags also enhances their mobility. Since these plants require six to eight hours of sun per day, being able to move them to spots with ideal lighting conditions is a huge plus. This mobility is equally beneficial when it's time to shield them from colder weather. For example, TikToker plantedinthegarden effortlessly moved his pepper plants into a greenhouse to protect them from the cold. This portability is also ideal for overwintering your plants indoors, ensuring they stay alive in the cold months and are ready to go by spring. If you're using grow bags, opt for at least a 5-gallon size to provide ample space for root growth, ideally 1 foot in diameter and 10 inches deep. This setup ensures your plants have the necessary room to thrive.

Use plant stakes for support

While you don't need to stake your pepper plants when they're young and small, this step becomes more beneficial as they grow taller. How tall they will grow depends on the variety of your pepper plant, but they may grow from 1 to 10 feet in height, with the average being about 3 to 4 feet tall. Pepper plants typically grow upwards and can get top-heavy as they bear fruit. Using stakes can help support their branches, preventing them from breaking under the weight of the peppers. At the same time, not all pepper varieties need support. Heavy pepper varieties, like bell peppers, will need to be staked, as well as other top-heavy varieties like habaneros and ghosts. 

You can use simple skewers or repurpose fallen tree branches from your garden as stakes. If your plants need more robust support, consider opting for metal stakes. For instance, a pack of 25 garden stakes from Amazon has an inner metal pole with a plastic exterior coating. They come in various sizes to suit different plants, ensuring you have the right support for whatever you're growing. You can attach them to these stakes with twine or garden clips. Alternatively, you could repurpose small tomato cages to place around your pepper plants.

Top off your pepper plants

Plants concentrate their energy on growing tips, known as apical meristems. Typically, this means that their primary growth occurs at the shoot tip rather than in the axillary buds, which are the buds on the side branches. Topping is a gardening technique where you prune the top of the plant. This encourages growth from the axillary buds, causing the plant to grow wider and bushier and ultimately increasing its yields. Further, this technique will also cause the plant to focus more energy on its main stem, thereby making it stronger. 

However, thehomesteadingrd says that this technique doesn't apply to everyone, and there are mistakes you should avoid when topping your pepper plants. According to her, this tip works best for smaller varieties and should be done when plants are under 8 inches tall. Further, it's better for plants grown in warmer climates, as they have longer growing seasons. Since topping the plant can delay the harvest, timing is crucial — you'll don't want to have your peppers start producing fruit as the winter season approaches. 

If you find that topping is the right choice for you, don't waste the leaves you remove. You can use them in a salad or stir-fry or as a garnish. You can also easily clone them by rooting them in a glass of water, as sunshinefarmny did. Simply cut the branch at an angle and place it in a glass of water, ensuring that at least one node is submerged.

Other pruning and pinching tips

Pruning and pinching are gardening techniques you can use to get the most out of your pepper plant. If you're aiming for your pepper plant to focus on fruit production, texasgardenguy suggests pruning all the lower branches and leaves. This helps the plant direct its energy towards growing the fruits, protects it from ground pests and diseases, and improves air circulation for a healthier plant. Similarly, as soon as your pepper plant starts flowering, you can follow farmerya's approach. She removes all the lower leaves of her pepper plants once they flower so the plant can concentrate its resources on developing bigger fruits, a TikTok tip that may help you grow bigger bell peppers.

On the other hand, azzengarden suggests pinching off your flowers if you want the plant to focus on growing a deeper root system and foliage. While harvesting fruit is nice, if you live in a warm climate that has a long growing season and are growing peppers that don't take very long to mature, you may want your plant to grow deeper into the ground to strengthen it for a large harvest later on. You can do this before transplanting any plant and two to three weeks after the transplant. Doing so lets the plant establish a sturdier, extensive root system in its new location. Additionally, if you're unsure how to relocate your plants, here's the best way to transplant pepper plants to ensure a healthy harvest.