Growing Peppers in Florida

Growing peppers in Florida seems like it should be a piece of cake, especially in the summertime — hot temperatures, plenty of rain, sunshine.  But what are some special concerns if you decide to grow peppers in Florida?

Summer is the Best (and Worst) Time

Summer is best in Florida because of the heat — peppers adore hot weather!  Conversely, it can be the worst time, due to rain (like what we had in 2008 – whoa!), humidity and super-bright sunshine.  Each can cause problems, but there are solutions!

Solution number one is to primarily grow your chile (hot) and ornamental peppers in the summer.  They love the heat, and especially the habaneros, scotch bonnets and bhut jolokia peppers.  Their original home is the tropics, which fits right in with Florida in Summer!

Bell peppers are better grown in the cooler, “shoulder” seasons.  I’ve had very little luck growing nice, big bell peppers in Summer.

The sweet peppers can be grown in the hot Florida summer, as long as you provide them shade during the hottest part of the day.  In fact, I like to grow all but my hottest peppers in dappled shade, during July and August.  Sun scald can be a problem!

Humidity can also be an issue , unless you leave plenty of room between your pepper plants for air circulation.  If the air can’t circulate, sweet and bell peppers in particular can get mold and fungus on the leaves.

What About the Other Seasons?

Here in South Florida where I live, I can pretty much grow peppers year-round, with one caveat; that I be able to protect them when the night-time temperatures go below 50.  Peppers, especially the really hot ones, are sensitive to the chilly weather.  They don’t like cold feet, especially cold wet feet.

Actually, in most of Florida you can plant your peppers outside in Spring, once the night temperatures are consistently above 55 degrees.  The soil should be really warm, though, if the evenings are still cool, so make sure where you plan to plant gets at least 8 hours of direct sun a day.  And if your peppers decide to be long-lived into the late summer, make sure you can give your sweet peppers at least some shade at mid-day or sun scald can be a problem.

In any case, it’s best that you germinate your pepper seeds inside; check out the germinating pepper seeds post for instructions.  And I’ve come to realize that especially with hot chile pepper seeds, I have to add warmth to the soil, when I germinate my seeds in the winter – even here in South Florida!  That’s where grow mats with heat some in handy.

(Before trying the grow mats in Winter, my chile pepper seed germination rate wasn’t all that great, even though my windowsill greenhouse is on a south-facing window.  Live and learn.)

55 Responses to Growing Peppers in Florida

  • wesley says:

    good day to yall have 1 question this is the first time for me growing a garden in north florida i have 2 green bell pepper plants that are not doing well at all is it a bit late to have them growing. i have them in a raised bed with organic soil and fertilizer. also they have sun all day is there any thing i can do to make them grow. also it looks like i have had somthing eating on them but not sure what it is i have sprayed them with insecticide and it doesnt seem to work

  • CW says:

    We planted a variety of peppers in our 4×8 planters box in late March. We used manure and garden soil and purchased established plants from Lowes. They are next to our tomatoes and at first seemed to be thriving. A couple weeks ago the green pepper plant started wilting…we tried feeding it, treating it for pests, watering it, not watering it and yet it still died. From the ground level up it started turning brown and the leaves wilted in, turned yellow and died. We yanked it, hoping it was only an isolated incidence. But yesterday, the orange pepper plant has started with the same symptoms and seems to be declining more rapidly. Sadly, it was set to produce the most crop. What’s killing them? Are all the peppers doomed?

  • Gail says:

    Ho Wesley,

    If they are flat out not growing, then the “something eating on them” could be the issue. Do you see any ants? They sometimes cause a problem for me, where the plants stay stunted.

    You mentioned a raised bed, my second thought, nematodes, most likely isn’t an issue with a raised bed.

    Insecticide can work short-term for a lot of pests, but if you’ve had any rain, the insecticide will have washed off.

    And sometimes, even when everything is right…the plants just don’t want to grow.

    It is late to start any new bell peppers here in Florida. If you still want to try and rescue these, my standby “emergency” food is a weak solution of Miracle Gro for Tomates — about half strength.

    Hope this helps!


  • Gail says:

    Hmmm, usually when they start turning brown and the leaves wilting, it makes me think nematodes. I don’t know how far you dug down into the soil when you set up the planters, but pepper roots can get pretty deep. If your orange pepper plant continues to decline and you have to yank it, look at the roots. If it’s nematodes, you’ll see swelling and galls on the roots.

    Sadly with nematodes there isn’t a whole lot that can be done, except for growing them in containers.

    Note: I am assuming that when you say 4×8 planters box, you mean something like a raised bed. If you meant an actual container, then nematodes problably aren’t the issue, unless the garden soil you are referring to means soil that was in the yard (and that you mixed with manure).

    Finally, you could have a bacterial infection. Peppers seem much less vulnerable to bacteria than their tomato cousins, but sometimes it does cause problems. Once the bacteria has gotten a foothold, there really isn’t much you can do. 🙁

    Hope this helps, and that no more of your plants fail.


  • sarah says:

    Hello there! I am located in central Fl . I am very proud to say that I have had a fruiting. Red bell pepper plant for the past two and a half years! Crazy! I’m an avid pickler and love my little garden.I’ve recently been unable to consume fresh tomatoes due to a stomach issue ……………so I have focused all my attention to peppers and herbs. I planted my peppers close together and spaced in-between very healthy Rosemary bushes. They love it! Plentiful fruit even in the blistering heat.they love to be close and cozy …and I think the acidity from the Rosemary makes themhappy !