What size pots for pepper plants?

leafericson(6)February 17, 2013

Hi everyone, just wondering if anyone can help me out here? This year I want to try Al's 5-1-1 mix using grow bags. I already have like 50 pepper plants growing and another 100 on their way. So due to limited garden space (other vegies I am already committed to) I want to try out grow bags using drip irrigation and Al's mix. I am currently using a 3 gallon grow bag as a test for a tomato plant using just coir and liquid hydroponic nutes but I am not sure what gallon size grow bag I should use for pepper plants using Al's 5-1-1 mix.
Before I buy a lot of these grow bags I will ask the question..
What gallon size pots does everyone else use with Al's 5-1-1 mix?


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You can use a large size container with a mix that has high porosity, its best, in fact.

I grow productive jalapenos in #1(.7 gal) containers using potting mix right out of the bag, but that just me... ;)

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 1:03PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I would say 5-gallon minimum.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 3:05PM
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esox07 (4b)

I used to grow with 7 gallon pots but I went down and purchased 20 new 5 gallon buckets for this year. I found that none of my plants were near root bound in 7 gallon pots and I just think I wasting a lot of money on soil mix. Some of my plants would have grown just fine in 2-3 gallon pots but those are mostly ornamentals. You should consider the kind of peppers you will be growing.

This post was edited by esox07 on Sun, Feb 17, 13 at 16:26

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 4:25PM
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I also have mostly 7 gal pots with a few misc sizes between 4 adn 10 gallon. I found the same thing as Bruce, the 7 gallon pots are bigger than needed for many types of peppers. I don't fill mine all the way up because I feel it's just excess. That said, I am going to try a couple larger annuums in pots this year (Big Jim, Poblano, etc..). I think they might use a larger container. And Lemon Drops and many others do fine in as small as a 1 gallon container. They grow bigger in a larger container, but miniaturize right down and are still productive.

So, I would think 5 gallon is good for most, but, depending on what you're growing more or less would also work.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 5:04PM
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naturemitch(3/4 WI)

I use a 3-gallon or 5-gallon container. I tried a few grow bags last year, and thought they did well for me. Will certainly pick up more this year. I have my tomato system down pat....still working on the best system for my peppers.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 5:48PM
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naturemitch, did you use 3 gallon grow bags for tomato or pepper plants? Were they outdoors? Did they blow over in the wind?

Since the peppers plants will be on a drip system with a timer; I think a 3 gallon grow bag is more than enough space for the roots. Like I said prior; I currently have a tomato plant indoors in a 3 gallon grow bag and it is very large and productive.

Besides having enough room for the roots my other big concern is will the plants blow over since they are in flimsy grow bags and not pots.

TheMasterGardener1, you say you grow jalapenos plants in less than a gallon pot. Have you had success with other hotter types in those #1 pots?

5 or 7 gallon bags I think would be way too large for pepper plants and a waste of my soilless mix. I have seen small trees in a 7 gallon pot and shrubs in a 3 or 5 gallon pot..

If anyone has any pictures of peppers in grow bags or in small pots (1-3 gallon) I would really appreciate seeing them so I can get a general idea..


    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 7:20PM
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I think it depends on how long of a growing season one has. I put a thai, a naga, and a guajillo in 5gal buckets with the 5-1-1 last year and they were/are all root bound by the end of the season. The thai is still going -- last 20 or so ripe peppers on right now...no more blossoms though.


    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 8:37PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Here's a Bhut Jolokia in a 5-gallon container, and a Black Pearl in a 1-gallon container.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 9:06PM
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That's a good point, woohooman!

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 10:29PM
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TheMasterGardener1, you say you grow jalapenos plants in less than a gallon pot. Have you had success with other hotter types in those #1 pots?

No, but am growing habs in one gal this year.

To get an idea, here is a cayenne in a #2 pot. This is just the start of its endless production.

Hey, here is a hot cherry in about 2.5 gal of soil and could have done with even less soil. Ready for water.

I got so many peppers from this one plant I am not uderstanding why many say to use a larger pot? O well ;)

    Bookmark   February 17, 2013 at 11:09PM
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northerner_on(Z5A ONCanada)

I plant all of my peppers in 1 or 2 gallon pots, and I always have more than enough peppers. The only disadvantage is having some of them topple over in high winds. Another drawback is that you must water more often, daily during periods of hot weather.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 1:57AM
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I am going to try growing some in coffee bags this year (jute bags? You know the brown woven ones). I found a guy here selling them for cheap, much cheaper than buckets (for some reason it is quite hard to find bigger plastic containers with a normal price), i can get 100 for about 30$. they are 1m by 0.7m but you just fold down the bag to the height you want and reduce volume too.
That material is really breathable, but holds moisture well too, and in the end of the season it can be used to mulch the harden because it is completely biodegradable. My only concern is whether it will dry out too fast in hot weather, but on the other hand my black old containers would cook so bad it evaporated water fast anyhow.
I've read that american coffee shops give away those bags for free, so if anyone is interested check out in your area, maybe you get lucky.
See an example linked

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 5:17AM
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Forgot to add, i have a question too. What would happen to a fruiting pepper plant that is rootbound in a small pot, and we used an opportunity say between harvests mid season to pull it out of the pot and give it a good root pruning to make it grow new feeder roots in the new substrate space we added(in the same pot)? Sort of like trees in pots are pruned? Would it go into shock and stop producing or would it be revitalized? Theoretically, if that worked, that pepper would have renewed root growth like it was in a bigger container,like a bonsai tree, but it's the fruiting part that i'm not sure of.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 5:35AM
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That would destroy production for sure.

I hope the op gets back to this. I really would say that a 3 gal pot is a nice size. I looked at some pics all over and found that my plant I grew in less than 2.5 gal of soil is just or more productive than plants that are in 5 gal or larger? Then I came across a pic of a grower that would "weave" his peppers to grow these plants that had so many peppers he needed a really strong trellis. Sure enough, he used the same thing I do, he grew these masive producers in nothing more than a 3 gal pot. It was amazing! Its all about fertilizer

Small container- sun heats up roots quiker than a large container making the plant grow faster and produce more. Plants roots can fill 3/4 the volume of the container and be fine if you give fertilizer. The soil will dry quiker like said above by the gorwer that uses 1-2 gal containers. This quiker dry time results in faster growth.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2013 at 12:02PM
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TheMasterGardener1, thanks for the reassurance on the 3 gallon size. I don't mind that they will need more frequent wateringâÂÂs because they will be on a drip system with a timer.
teyo, there is good stress and then there is bad stress. In my opinion it's how much stress. My tomato plant in a 3 gallon grow bag was flowering but not fruiting. So I pulled it from the bag and trimmed the roots and branches with respect and care. After that I now have many nice tomatoes and many more to come. So I'm with you there. I guess it's all about how and when you do it. I really like your idea of coffee sacks; that would make it a self-pruning grow bag. Unfortunately they are not cheaply available to me.


    Bookmark   February 19, 2013 at 9:29PM
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Go for it! I can grow huge pepper plants in #2 pots, so can you! Light fertilizer, about 1/10 strength, every water once a day or every other during the most productive time.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 11:16AM
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A tomato in a 3 gallon grow bag? What variety? I am trying to limit my indeterminate to a 5 gallon container and I believe that is pushing it.

I do agree that peppers will do well in small containers but I'm not sure about tomatoes.

This post was edited by pretty.gurl on Sat, Feb 23, 13 at 14:00

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 1:59PM
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Tomatoes really do need a large container. I too want to try inderterminates in 3-5 gal pots.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 2:19PM
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esox07 (4b)

Re: Tomatoes.
I remember when I was a kid, my mother used to grow tomatoes. I never remember them growing like tomato plants do these days. They never seemed to be more than a few feet tall and never took over the whole garden like many varieties do these days. The first time I noticed this is when I planted a tomato plant in my back yard in the corner of the fenced in yard. I just did it on a whim. Within a few months, I was propping it up using the surrounding fence and would have grown well above the 7 foot fence if I had kept propping it up. My kid made a fort under/behind it in the corner of the fence. I also remember it was infested with a beetle type bug but it didn't seem to bother the plant at all. A few years ago, in Wisconsin, I again grew a couple tomato plants on a whim....once again, it was huge. When did tomato plants become so prolific or did my Mom simply grow some dwarf variety. I know a lot of neighbors grew tomatoes but I don't remember anything out of the ordinary back then (1970's). Now I see and hear about monster tomato plants all the time.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 2:33PM
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Bruce, I think it has to do with seed selection. Even if you grow old fashioned variety's they still grow bigger than back then. From what I have heard seed company's will grow a varitety and pick the ones that produced the most and the largest. That is what is called "Improved" after all the years that pass that strain becomes something new but similar and they can still call it heirloom. Like marglobe and marglobe supreme. I prefer the old variety's that are still true to their traits; they have such a better flavor with that true tomato taste to die for. Only problem is they are much more prone to disease but I think there worth it:)
pretty.gurl, I am growing a "Beefsteak" yes "Beefsteak" tomato plant in a 3 gallon container and it produces quite well. With hydroponics almost anything is possible.


    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 5:05PM
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A little off topic, but, it could also be the difference between determinate and indeterminate. Determinates are "bush" style and indeterminate is more 'vine like'. Another possibility is that they pruned them. I've seen older folks put up a cage (not the cheap store bought ones you find today) and anything that tried to escape the cage got unceremoniously ripped from the plant. :-)

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 10:57AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I've seen determinate and patio tomatoes grown in 3 and 5 gallon fabric containers, and they've been really underwhelming plants.

Since the question specifically includes the 5-1-1, which is a well-aerated and well-draining mix, I think the larger bag will help retain moisture more uniformly. Fabric containers are designed to improve drainage and aeration, and when you double-down with a mix designed to do the same, you may find the drainage and aeration a little too good when using small volumes.

Just be aware of the compounding variables and the fact that 5-1-1 is watered differently than traditional mixes. There is a learning curve.


    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 1:00PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

We used to eat the most delicious tomatoes from the garden on my uncle's farm. No plant was taller than me (The preferred dish was thick slices on a plate. No mayo, no dressing, no nothing, just yumm. Except for Uncle Wilfred (RIP!) who liked salt on his. Late in life he developed a bad heart and Aunt Elsie wouldn't let him eat salt, so he *liberally* used black pepper. He said if you use enough it tastes like salt.

To this day I prefer pepper on my tomatoes, though I wouldn't say no to a fine olive oil, either.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 4:29PM
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naturemitch(3/4 WI)


I used grow bags for a few peppers....I tried 5 gallon bags. No issues with wind, but I had them tucked around potted peppers. Actually, had no problems with wind on any of the potted plants. The plants were exposed to any S.W. winds...meaning they took some wind:) I am thinking I can get away with 3 gallon grow bags for most of my pepper plants...will use the 5 gallon bags for poblanos and some of our other 'beasts':)

Also, we grow our tomatoes in 3 gallon buckets(peppers are grown in the same pots), but we use a modified system for the tomatoes. We cut a 4" hole in the bucket and set the buckets onto landscape fabric that has a 'X' marked into it. This system gives us the best of both worlds (pot and in-ground). Buckets heat up faster, drain better, no weeding, and allow us to use less soilless mix. The system works spectacular for us:) Here are a couple of pics....

here's our tomato system...plants are pretty young yet.

here they are much later in the summer, notice this pic shows the same plants ....

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 10:10PM
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So it is a mini-raised bed? Interesting.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 11:03PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

I grow my bigger peppers 3 each in 15-gallon smart pots with 5-1-1 -- poblanos, chimayos, Big Jims, and Corno di Toros last summer. Here's a photo of the poblanos in October. The roots filled the pot. I think they were too crowded.

Here is a link that might be useful: Poblanos in a 15 gallon grow bag

This post was edited by Ohiofem on Mon, Feb 25, 13 at 0:49

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 12:31AM
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chilliwin(EU DK 7)

Any size you can use but the problem is when the plants are rootbound then you will get early flowers and probably you will get small pods too.

I use 5:1:1 I enjoy it, the result of 5:1:1 is remarkable in big containers. I have Ghost and Scorpion in 5:1:1 they have grown very well and unexpectedly they are getting flowers, I changed to bigger containers and found that they are rootbound. So when we grow chili plants in containers we should know the timing of re-potting in the right size containers, to get more productive. I do not know what are the minimum and maximum size of chili plants containers because I am a beginner. So I would like to say it depends on the species of the chili plants. Some of the species needs bigger containers and some are not need big containers, take advice from the experience gardeners :).

New container gardener,


This post was edited by chilliwin on Thu, Feb 28, 13 at 4:52

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 4:49AM
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Thanks for all the great information on growing peppers,
I have used cardboard apple boxes too to grow peppers,
and filled with compost on the bottom and better soil in the upper horizons they can last a season or two even with daily waterings, my peppers in those boxes have outperformed those in plastic pots. Another thing I tried last year was to put 6 or so one gallon pots of peppers in the apple box, and then add compost and soil to fill up the space between the peppers in the box. That keeps the sun off the plastic pots which means the potted peppers will dry out slower and require less waterings, however if its late season or in a cool climate you probably want the sun to warm up the pot so the soil gets warm and encourages faster root, plant and pepper growth. Having the pot in a box or dug into the ground also helps keep them from knocking over, and gives them some composted soil below the pot so they can send roots through the pot's holes if they need to.
I saw some useful photos on this link on how to support potted plants, I need to work on that.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2013 at 11:18PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)


As I am planning to grow some peppers in pots(Due to space shortage) so am trying to educate myself on the container planting of peppers. I have done some study on the potting mix. I think I have covered that base pretty good.

The objection to smaller pot is often stated as : ROOT BOUNDING.
That maybe so true and more relevant for the plants that are going to be around for longer than one season. Also, This might be applicable to growing peppers as perennial in SO> CAL and Florida. For the rest of us, by the time the pepper plant has become root bound it will be out of commission: Mission Accomplished. Thank you.

Another issue (and this is my personal observation and take) is that when a plant is given an opportunity to grow in a large container and then on top of that you give em lots of fertilizers, it will just waste a lot of time and energy trying to grow lots of root and foliage and less concentration on growing fruits.
So then, in this case getting root bound is actually signals to the plant to get on with the mission, grow fruits(seeds)

All said so far, I am leaning toward smaller pots ; 2 to 3 gal. range. I am not worried about small pots getting too hot , b,c in our PNW climate that is not an issue.

This post was edited by seysonn on Fri, Nov 8, 13 at 6:42

    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 2:15PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

give it a bump !

    Bookmark   November 8, 2013 at 6:44AM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

In my experience it is true that root-bound / stressed plants produce earlier. The problem is that they produce far less often! I got the earliest ripe bhuts here (back in late June) from smaller pots, but only a few of them . When I moved some plants up to large pots it's like they took a deep breath, grunted out a bunch of growth, then set 900 pods each. So now I am hip deep in pods from the plants in the large pots. The plants in the small pots continued to turn out pods fairly reliably, but a a far smaller rate.

In other words, a larger plant produces more fruit.

Now remember that peppers aren't annuals. In their native frost-free lands the first year isn't all that important to reproduction so they don't go kamikaze about it - they try to get as big as possible. My theory is that these overwinters in large pots will hit the ground running next year and blow everything else into the weeds because they already have the "infrastructure" that the others took much of the first year to develop.

We shall see...


    Bookmark   November 8, 2013 at 5:35PM
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