Peppers in a drought
Peppers require full sun, warm soil and water to flourish. The soil should be 65 degrees and night time temperatures should stay above 60 degrees. Don’t plant your pepper plants where tomatoes, potatoes and eggplant have been grown in the past two years as they are all in the same botanical family and pathogens can remain in the soil. Peppers easily cross pollinate so it is advised not to plant hot pepper varieties near sweet pepper varieties to avoid cross pollination.
Peppers need water and we are in a drought. Vegetables that have thicker walls and a long growing season will be negatively impacted by the lack of water. Peppers need water when the top inch of the soil dries out and the plants should not be allowed to wilt. Mulching around the plants helps retain moisture in the soil and once the plants are established some varieties can tolerate less water.
Here are some suggestions for pepper varieties that do well in Northern California.
- Anaheim Peppers - Grow well in containers and raised beds. Usually, 80 days to maturity. Sahuaro is a high yielding variety that matures in 70 days. These are the peppers that you see hanging dried in bunches called Ristras.
- Jalapeno Peppers - Love hot, dry weather but needs consistent water. Usually, 90+ days to maturity. Sierra Fuego matures in 80 days and Mucho Nacho in 68 days.
- Habanero Peppers - Grow vertically and don’t mind high temps (it makes them hotter!) They need infrequent watering but when you water, you should water deeply. They mature in 90 days but the longer you leave them on the vine the hotter they get.
- Cayenne Peppers - Perfect for California summers as they love the warm weather. Mature in 70 to 80 days. They are much hotter than Habanero peppers.
- Banana Peppers – A compact plant that produces well. Matures in 70 days and are picked when they are yellow. They need consistently moist soil. Two recommended varieties are Sweet Banana and Banana Supreme.
- Bulgarian Peppers - These are the most drought tolerant peppers. Mature in 80 days.
- Italian (Cubanelle) Peppers - Mature in 60 -70 days. Jimmy Nardello is a heirloom variety and is prolific.
- Shishito Peppers - Mature early in 60-65 days. They need consistent water. They are generally a mild pepper but 1 in 10 may be hot!
- Cherry Peppers - They were created for vertical gardening and are the size of cherry tomatoes. They need consistent water. Mature in 70 - 80 days.
- Poblano Peppers (referred to as Ancho when they are dried) - Easy to grow but they don’t like clay soil. They are hardy plants and require 1-2 inches of water a week. Matures in 60 - 90 days.
- Ozark Peppers -This variety produces huge, long bell peppers that have delicious, thick flesh. They start out green and turn bright red. Mature in 68 days.
- Yolo Wonder Peppers - great new and improved tasty pepper for home gardens. Very well shaped pepper with thicker walls. Mature in 65 - 80 days.
Hot peppers have Capsicum in their skin, juice and seeds. It is a skin irritant. Always wear gloves when harvesting and working with the peppers and don’t touch your face or eyes.
Be sure to read our other article about peppers on our website.