Growing peppers in containers on a balcony is pretty easy. Providing you have the right climate, they’re actually one of the easiest plants to care for.
In this article, we’ll cover how to grow peppers on a balcony. Note, this applies to everything from bell peppers to chili peppers, as they need the same basic steps.
Unsurprisingly, peppers love a warm climate. Most varieties like USDA Zones 8-11, but you can find some types that are happy with Zones 6 and 7. If you live in a cooler climate, your best bet will be to grow them indoors. Alternatively, use a contained mini greenhouse to increase the temperature.
Chilies and bell peppers come in a massive range of types that differ in color and flavor. They’re super easy to grow from seed, although you could opt for seedlings from a gardening store instead. However, learning how to grow from seed is a better option because you can use the seeds of this year’s harvest next year.
For “standard” varieties of bell and chili peppers, you can harvest them any time after they reach full size. Green peppers are usually more bitter than red peppers, but this is a matter of personal preference.
Sunlight: Direct sunlight
Grow in pots: Yes – 12” in diameter or larger
Grow indoors: Yes – preferred in cooler climates
Soil type: Well-draining soil
When to plant: Early-to-mid spring (February to April)
It’s pretty easy to grow peppers providing you have the right climate and weather conditions. For this, you’ll need:
1. Germinate your seeds indoors. You can do this in a seedling tray or use eggshells or cardboard tubes.
2. Once the seedlings sprout, thin out the weakest ones.
3. When they have 2 sets of true leaves, plant them in 3-inch pots. Keep indoors at this point to encourage growth.
4. From mid-May onwards, you can think about planting outdoors in their forever homes.
5. To do this, fill the container with compost, dig a hole in the middle, and plant the seedling.
Peppers like moist soil, so water little and often. They can suffer from a condition called blossom end rot, which is when the end of the pepper goes black. It’s caused by a lack of calcium, so germinating the seeds in eggshells gives them a good boost.
As the plant is growing, use a balanced fertilizer to maintain calcium levels. However, once they start flowering, switch to a high potassium fertilizer instead. Any kind of tomato fertilizer will be fine for this.
When growing peppers in containers, you need to do something called pinching out. When the plants are about 8 inches tall, pinch off the growing tip at the top. It encourages side shoots, which mean more fruit. Larger pepper varieties might need staking at this point, too.
There’s no set growing time for harvesting peppers, as it depends on the variety. Check your seed packet or label for specific advice. You can pick most of them when they’re green, but don’t pick them too early otherwise they’ll be incredibly bitter.
Growing peppers in containers on a balcony is a fun project because they’re relatively compact plants that fruit well. Better still, you don’t need loads in one go, so they’re ideal for picking as needed.
If you don’t think your outdoor climate is warm enough, just grow them on a sunny windowsill indoors. Make sure you pick a dwarf variety for this, though!