By Susan Patterson, Master Gardener
The jalapeno pepper plant is a member of the hot pepper family and shares company with other fiery hot varieties such as tobacco, cayenne and cherry. Jalapenos are the only pepper that is not allowed to fully ripen and change color before being picked. Growing jalapeno peppers is not difficult if you provide plants with good soil, plenty of sunlight and ample water.
How to Grow Jalapeno Peppers
Peppers, including jalapenos, do best in loamy, well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter. Full sun and warm temperatures are also important when growing jalapeno peppers.
Jalapenos thrive in warm conditions and need temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees F. to germinate. Temperature is critical, and unless it is warm enough, pepper seeds will not sprout, and transplants will not survive. It is best to wait until at least two weeks after planting tomatoes to plant jalapeno peppers in the garden. In contrast, jalapeno pepper plants will not produce an abundance of fruit when the temperature is over 90 degrees F.
Although jalapeno plant care is not difficult, plants must be kept watered during hot, dry spells. It is best to avoid getting water on the fruit; therefore, drip irrigation is the best form of watering for jalapeno plants.
Jalapeno Plant Problems
Jalapenos are nightshade plants like tomatoes, potatoes and eggplant and are vulnerable to similar diseases and pest problems. Keeping pepper plants well-watered and your garden area clean of rotting debris will help to keep pest problems to a minimum.
Cutworms, aphids, and flea beetles are common pests of the pepper plant. Spray plants with a heavy shot of water to knock off aphids or use an organic insecticide, like neem oil. Worms or caterpillars should be picked off plants and thrown away. It is a good idea to check plants daily for pests.
Harvesting Jalapeno Pepper Plant
Another part of jalapeno plant care involves proper harvesting. You should harvest jalapeno peppers before they turn color. Carefully pinch them from the stem when picking. The pepper should be firm and solid colored.
Reserve jalapenos for dishes that require very hot peppers. You can dry jalapenos, freeze them or use them in salsas and sauces, if you dare!
Learning how to grow jalapeno peppers will is a great way to provide some extra zip in your food dishes. In addition, proper care of your peppers will help prevent any future jalapeno plant problems.