Pepper plants should be watered 1-3x per week depending on the weather and size/stage of the pepper plants. Aim to give pepper plants between 1/2″-2″ of water per week including rainfall.
How often to water peppers should look something like this. Pepper plants reach maturity in 120-150 days from seed.
Pepper plants begin to flower and produce fruit around the 70-100 day mark. This is the time that pepper plants, and most vegetable plants, require the most water.
The peppers typically reach full size 20-30 days before they reach full ripeness and you can back off of watering some then.
In a lot of varieties peppers will change into their final color during this time right after reaching their full size. This is also the time the peppers will develop their full flavor and nutritional content.
By watering less after peppers reach their full size peppers should have higher levels of sugar and capsaicin (the chemical that causes spiciness) at harvest.
If you live in a climate where pepper plants can continue to produce you’ll need to continue watering them pretty heavily as long as they are producing new peppers.
How long pepper plants will produce for is a tricky question to answer. Some pepper varieties produce most or all of their peppers at once, others produce for 4-16 weeks and then require a dormant period before flowering and producing again, and some like the aji amarillo and aji limon will produce year round in the right climate.
When Should I Stop Watering Pepper Plants?
Stop watering peppers completely 7-10 days before you plant to fully harvest a plant. In this way the peppers will concentrate as much capsaicin and sugar as possible into each pepper.
Should I Water Pepper Plants Every Day?
You should water pepper plants, and most garden plants, less often with deeper waterings. This way the shallow roots are not constantly sitting in wet topsoil which can lead to root rot and roots of the plant are forced to grow deeper making for a healthier plant. Something like every 2-5 days.
Aim to water .5″-1″ at a time. It’s good gardening practice to water right after shallow rains. We use wunderground.com to see expected rainfall amounts and use a wide mouthed rain gauge to get an accurate rainfall reading.
Exception #1 — During the heat of summer and drought, especially in more southern locations, it will likely become necessary at some point to give peppers a little water every day to keep the leaves from drying out. If temperatures are over 90 degrees for consecutive days consider watering daily.
Exception #2 — Often, plants being grown in containers dry out faster than plants grown in the ground or raised beds. Container plants not using an automatic drip system will require careful supervision.
Exception #3 — If you are using an automatic drip watering system you can choose to water with small and consistent amounts of water right at the base of plants every day.
The automatic drip watering system is a great way to deliver just the right amount of moisture, primarily if grown in a container and protected from rain.
Drip watering systems are a project to install but are a great way to efficiently water plants in the ground or raised beds and reduce the need to monitor them as closely.
When To Water Pepper Plants
The best way to know when to water pepper plants is to feel the soil 4-5 inches down. Rub the soil between your fingers to feel the consistency.
Soil can be wet, or dry, or somewhere in the middle. When the soil is mostly dry 4-5 inches down it’s time to water.
Wilting leaves can be another good indicator for when to water.
However, wilted leaves can also occur during heat stress. If you’re having hot temperatures regularly above 85 degrees heat stress may be the cause of the wilting leaves.
If the soil feels moist enough look for leaves to back bounce in the late evening or morning when the heat cools down.
Do Pepper Plants Need a Lot of Water?
Pepper plants, like most garden plants, require more water during the flowering and fruit production phase of their life, around 2″ of water per week, and more during hot weather. 2″ of water over 500 square feet equals 623 gallons of water.
Pepper Plants Watering Tips
Water In the Morning – Watering in the early morning is the best time to water. Midday watering has the most evaporation off the bat and pretty quickly out of heavily rooted topsoil. Watering late at night means foliage might not dry off completely which invites disease like powder mildew. The second best time to water is early evening.
Use Mulch – A layer of mulch will keep soil temperatures down and help soil retain moisture during hot weather periods. Almost all types of mulch can be turned under at the end of the season and add organic material to the soil.
Drip Irrigation – Once this is set up it delivers consistent and precise amounts of water directly to the base of the plants.
Pepper Plants In Containers Typically Require More Water – Moisture evaporates more quickly from pots and containers than from garden plots and raised beds so be careful to monitor the soil in potted plants.
Also, outside containers may need to be moved undercover or protected if long stretches of rain are expected.
Water Potted Plants Slowly – Water plants slowly so that water slowly trickles down and reaches every dry spot in the container. Water until the container drains out of the bottom each time you water the container.
The reason for this is to prevent salt buildups that can occur when a potted plant is watered partially through. The salts in the soil will build up in a layer and that layer is toxic to plants.
What Happens If You Overwater Pepper Plants?
Overwatering pepper plants can lead to plant death. If the plants are sitting in wet soil for a week or so root rot will develop and the plants will die.
Overwatering is more common in containers with poor drainage than garden beds. If soil in the garden has too much clay it will not drain well or if there is a slope in the garden water can pool in one area.
If there is standing water around your plants 24 hours after you’ve watered then you likely have problems with your soil draining. Wilting leaves and a general mild yellowing of the plant are also signs of overwatering.
Please comment below with your own thoughts on watering practices or watering peppers.