How to Water Hot Pepper Plants

Watering is the tricky part. You want to get this right. Too much water is bad. If anything, less is better. In my opinion, overwatering is much more common than underwatering. Hot pepper plants don’t require a lot of water, but what they do require is consistency!

Watering Hot Pepper Seedlings

I like to reuse gallon milk containers. I fill them with tap water and let them sit (open) for 24 hours. This helps dissolve any harsh chlorine and brings it to room temperature. Collect multiple containers if you plan on using liquid fertilizer while your plants are indoors since you can use some for straight water and others for different mixtures of fertilizer.

Watering pepper plants in double cups

Make sure there is a space between your double cups. Read the section on using pizza pizza savers to create a gap. Start by filling the bottom cup with about an inch of water. You want the bottom of the top cup to just touch the water. Let the cup dry out for a day or two and then repeat the process. You will need to lift up each top cup to check the water level and feel the weight of the cup, which indicates how wet the soil is.

It is perfectly normal to have roots growing out of the bottom of the cup. If you plan on adding fertilizer to your water then you can choose to fill up the bottom cup so that it never touches the soil. This helps prevent fungus, mold, and insect (like fungus gnats). The roots will dangle in the water and drink what they want.

If you are using soil with fertilizer in it (like FoxFarm’s Ocean Forest/Happy Frog) make sure you water at the top about once per week. This allows the nutrients to flow down through the soil into the water for the roots.

Watering Pepper Plants in Pots with Trays

1020 trays can hold up to eighteen 3.5″ pots. You can either choose to pour water in the tray to bottom-feed all the plants in one shot. Or you can water each individual pot at the top. I do a mix of both.

Watering the tray is ideal – if it works for you 🙂 Here’s the problem I encountered; the plants all drank at different rates. I found that some plants dried out quicker than others so when I poured water into the tray I ended up giving some plants too much water which leads to big problems.

I recommend checking the plants every day and top water the ones that need it. First, look at the soil. Does it look dry and have the edges of the soil started to separate from the pot? Do the plants look wilted or droopy and are they feel velvet soft to the touch? They probably need water. Next, lift each pot and get a feel for the weight. I know this is a pain in the ass but sometimes they appear dry but actually have water in the bottom. And sometimes they might look wet but are actually dry! Getting a good sense of the weight of dry pots will really help you out. You can get a watering can with a really long spout to help reach the plants in the back.

Take a look at the dirt. Does it look wet? Is there green algae growing? Lift it up. Is it heavy? If you answered yes to any of these questions – don’t water. It might take a while for the soil to dry out. When they do need water you can fill the bottom cup almost half way. You want the soil to absorb all of the water. You don’t want the top cup to be sitting in water.

double cup roots

The idea here is to allow the soil to dry out a bit between waterings. You want the roots to search for water and eventually they will start coming out from the bottom of the cup. This is what you want. Once this happens, you can stop watering from the top. Put water in the bottom just so it touches the roots (about 1/2 way up of the pizza saver!). It’s best if the water is not high enough to touch the dirt.

It’s important to remember to check the water in every cup daily! Since the roots are exposed they cannot handle long periods of drought.

wet plants
wet plant

The soil in these two pots is too wet! You can see the plants developing some side effects from overwatering. Algae is not a good sign also. It means you’re watering too often or the water is sitting on top and not sinking. You did use perlite right? You can always use the handle of a plastic spoon and stick it in the dirt to allow the water to travel down.

If you find that your soil is staying wet and allowing green algae or mold to grow try putting a fan on the plants to help dry it out. Make sure the fan is hitting the soil. An oscillating fan is best but I use 2 of these fans pictured. You can position them a bunch of different ways and the clamps are strong enough to stay on my shelving poles.

plant drooping
A thirsty plant

If your plant dries out too much the leaves will get soft and droop (like the picture). Give it some water and it will perk right back up in about 20 minutes. Look how dry the soil is.

How do the Plants Look?

Sometimes plants bug out. Most problems stem from overwatering. If it’s drooping like the picture above and the soil is dry, it means you let it dry out too long. Give it some water and it will perk up. If something funky is going on and the soil is wet it probably just needs to dry out. Aim the fan on the soil and let it dry out for a couple days.

Here’s what a healthy plants look like. This ghost pepper was sown exactly 2 months before this picture was taken. It will be going outside to harden off in the next day or so before it gets planted in it’s final home – the raised bed outside. The size is perfect. It is not budding and the color is a uniform green.

You will notice the leaves have a slight droop to them. It’s starting to get thirsty. Now look at the soil. There is evidence that I didn’t let this plant dry out enough in-between waterings due to the presence of green algae. Even though the soil looks dry, there is a little bit of weight to the pot. I am going to let him go for another day before I water him.