When it comes to growing great pepper plants, yield is our key metric. A high yielding plant not only provides a seemingly endless supply of flavorful fruit, but it’s also an innately satisfying experience for the grower – an unmistakable confirmation of a job well done.
As a high-yielding plant is a healthy plant, properly caring for pepper plants is most important. That said, not all pepper varieties are created equal and the following plant characteristics have a significant influence on the realized yield…
Plant size & shape
Big, bushy plants have more potential to produce many peppers.
A plant dense with peppers not only provides a lot to harvest, but is also visually stunning when they start to ripen.
A couple hundred peppers on a plant is great, unless they’re tiny – making them time consuming to pick for a smaller payoff.
Some varieties tend to provide a nice, large, bush-like plant (habanero), while others (jalapeno) tend to grow more stick-like with less branching, and still others, have a smaller plant size at maturity (Australian lantern) or small fruit (pilli pilli).
In addition to pepper variety selection and growing healthy plants, below are a few simple things growers can do to get more…
Maximize the growing season. Once plants start producing peppers, they'll continue as long as the weather remains favorable. Here in Atlanta, GA, we’re harvesting peppers from the 4th of July to as late as Thanksgiving. Having pepper starts ready for transplanting when the danger of frost has passed and allowing them to grow as late into the year as possible is an easy way to increase yield.
Pinch flower buds when plants are small. Before transplanting, pepper plants sometimes grow too big for their starter cups – pushing them to produce fruit too early. While in starter cups, and soon after transplanting, gently pinch off flower buds to help the plant generate more growth before flowering.
Pick peppers soon after they ripen. Regularly harvesting the plant's peppers encourages it to produce more.
If fertilizing, reduce nitrogen level once plant begins to flower. Nitrogen is primarily used to fuel the plant while in growth mode. When in fruiting mode, nitrogen needs to be balanced with potassium and phosphorus.