I love peppers. As a matter of fact, I love just about anything spicy. After successfully growing lettuce in a hydroponic system, I figured the next logical step was to grow some peppers.
For my first attempt at growing hydroponic jalapeno I bought some random jalapeno seeds on Amazon. I did not do a very good job of documenting the data around this particular grow, but I did take a lot of sub-par cellphone photos that I am using the time stamps to show a general timeline of progression.
The first photo I have is from November 25, 2018; however, my peppers took a while to germinate. There was most likely about two weeks between the sowing of the jalapeno seed and the first picture below.
Equipment That I Used
5 Gallon Bucket
6″ Net Pot for 5 Gallon Bucket
Vero 18 COB
Master Blend, Calcium-Nitrate, Epsom Salt
What I Learned
1. Top(Prune) Pepper Plants
A few weeks in when you have a decent sized plant with more than 5 or 6 true leaves, you’re going to want to snip the top stem that splits like a “Y”. You should make sure you leave at least 3 or 4 large leaves. This will make your pepper plant grow side shoots and develop a thicker stem and cause more side growth. This will make your plant bushier, stronger and produce more peppers. The Rustic Gardener has an excellent video that goes into detail on how to do this. (Video Reference)
I also pruned my pepper plant throughout the grow. You’ll notice this in the gallery above, my plant looks bare, but I wanted to keep the plant within the 1ft by 1ft area. A lot of the lower leaves will be shaded from the top depending on your setup, so it may be worth it to get rid of them.
2. Nutrient Mix
Stop buying liquid nutrients. They are expensive to ship and generally cost more and provide less.
Research Master Blend, Calcium-Nitrate and Epsom salt. You can usually get them as a set. Peppers feed a little different than lettuce so you’re going to have to run them on a different reservoir if you’re growing lettuce as well. I had the best results with a 3g/3g/2g per 1 gallon mix described in this video. That’s 3 grams of Master Blend, 3 grams of Calcium-Nitrate, and 2 grams of Epsom salt per 1 gallon of water. Preferably distilled, purified, or whatever they call it in your area. This makes sure the total dissolved solids is as close to 0 as possible.
3. Light Cycles
When you’re growing you plant from seedling to fruiting stage you will want to run a light cycle of 18 hours on, 6 hours off. This will maximize plant growth before you start developing fruit. Once you’re ready to develop peppers, switch to a 12 on, 12 off cycle.
4. Check TDS/pH/Water Level Often
This is probably a no brainer, but once the plants are fruiting it is likely they are quite large. At this stage the plants will be guzzling water and nutrients very quickly. If you’re running something small like a 5 gallon bucket, you’re going to have to check at minimum every 2 days. If you ignore this the plant will drain all of the water and the nutrients will concentrate in the remaining water and the pH will rise. This will not be good for you plants.
5. Dumb Stuff I Didn’t Know
Jalapenos will grow out of the flowers.
Flowers that are not pollinated will “abort” and fall off.
Don’t waste your time with an electric toothbrush pollinating each flower, simply give the base a good shake or invest in a fan. (You should be running a fan regardless.)
I hope this has been informational and helps you on your journey to grow some peppers. As for me, I will be running a 7 site aeroponics system for my next pepper plants. If you’re new to the entire process I would definitely start with a single pepper plant and move up from there. This will be minimal investment and if you decide it’s not for you, it’s an easy abort.
Also, if you have any other questions or I have made a mistake somewhere, please leave a comment or reach out to me on Instagram.
Currently I cannot recommend buying any seeds on Amazon at this time. This is more of a personal preference, so do some research and find a seed supplier you like or if your fine with Amazon that’ll work too. Personally I like Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.