Pots vs. In the Ground

gshann(Z6 PA ChesCo.)March 21, 2007

I had three pepper plants going in pots last year, and all did reasonably well, but I plan to have a larger number (and variety) in the ground this year. What advantages and disadvantages do you see between in the ground and in pots? Surely pots dry out faster, but I can keep a pot in near 100% sun, while the spot I have in mind for ground planting will be getting maybe 3 hours less of sun per day. These would be in the early morning and late afternoon based on the contours of my house. Is this going to be a huge deal in the long run? I know all vegetable plants need lots of sun, but am I better off in pots? Or perhaps a spot in full sun?

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nwl_me

I've found that pepper plants grown in the ground grow better and larger than those in pots. However, if I plan on growing them as perennials, I grow them in pots so that I can bring them inside in the winter. I usually have a large flush of fruits around February. I pollinate the plants with non-self-pollinating flowers with a vibrating toothbrush.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2007 at 2:53PM
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pkapeckopickldpepprz(z9 a/b FL)

Here in Florida with the sandy soil that retains virtually no moisture, there is no choice, pots all the way.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 3:56PM
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fiedlermeister(04/05)

Have have planted in ground and in pots and for me ( soil is basically rocks and clay)plants in pots do much better. The soil in the pots warms up faster than the ground and I can put the pots in the sunniest spots an the yard.

john

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 4:36PM
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pkapeckopickldpepprz(z9 a/b FL)

Here in FLorida with the brutal sun my plants prefer morning sun and late sun, but midday sun they get sunburned. I added screening around my tomato plants for the same reason but screening pots is just not practical for all my peppers.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 5:24PM
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ardnek710(z6 stlouis)

We do quite a few of our peppers and tomatoes in pots and they do just fine. We water a little more often because they drain faster but you can have absolute control over soil mix and additives. We use the standard 5 gallon black plastic nursery pots and they heat up faster in the sun.

Plus since you can easily control the soil in a pot you can eliminate some diseases that affect the plants by replacing soil if necessary. Can't do that in the ground as easily.

kendra

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 5:42PM
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tetrazygia

Gshann, if you can't get a sunny position for your peppers in-ground, I think your question is answered already. Go for the pots, full sun is so much better than three hours of indirect sunlight, and then you have the option to grow them as perennials.

Pkapeckopickldpepprz, I've had completely different experiences with peppers in FL! I used to grow peppers in pots until I experimented some and realized how much better they did for me in the ground. I'm in South Miami, with sandy soil over limestone, and peppers do really well here. I think they like the excellent drainage.

The native bird peppers grow in the Keys and in the pine rocklands, even where there is hardly any soil. There are many problems I have with the sandy soil, but I am very grateful for the drainage... it's so easy to add compost and fertilize, and I like to give their roots lots of room!

I've never had peppers that didn't like full summer sun, but Miami sees a lot of rain all summer and that could be the difference. I've had problems with tomatoes and heat, but compared to the midwest and southwest my temps are mild--what are your summer highs like?

This thread really shows how many factors affect plants, and how we can have such different experiences growing the same plants, even in similar regions. It's probably a good idea for everyone to try both ways, because you never know.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2007 at 2:31AM
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fiedlermeister(04/05)

And then there is this method which I developed to cut down on watering. I cut the bottom out of 10" nursery pots and bury them half way into the ground. I fill the pots with Pro Mix. This gives me the advantage of the good planting medium, some added heat,and less watering because the roots can grow into the soil below the pots.

john

    Bookmark   March 29, 2007 at 2:53PM
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deansfba(z9 SanFranArea)

You might want to experiment with one or two large containers, too. I use 15 gallon pots [just like the 1 gallon types, but bigger and stronger. They have side 'handles', too.] that I get at Home Depot for about $7 each. [ In my case I use them for dragon fruit and other tropicals and subtropicals which have to be moved when the temps drop.] This year I'm also going to try lining them all up on the patio and laying a soaker hose on a daily timer across the tops.
I would imagine if they are getting too hot, which might not happen with such a large soil mass, you could also get some white material to put around the pot, like white contact paper or plastic of some type.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2007 at 3:46PM
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tigerb8(z8 Mississippi)

They do equally well in both here in z8, but the ground
grown pepper plants get much larger and produce more/larger
fruit, but the pots gives you better isolation and more
control of the growing enviroment.

ButchT

    Bookmark   March 29, 2007 at 10:50PM
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james_ab(z3a Alberta)

I never yet managed to get more than an handful of pods off a pepper planted in the ground. In contrast, last year I grew them in 10" pots in a greenhouse and got 2 pounds of jalapenos per plant and more cayennes from three plants than I knew what to do with even though I gave half of them away! That was in spite of the fact that they were quite rootbound by the end of the season (this year, I'm putting them in much larger containers).

My suspicion is that the difference was the temperature of the soil - these are tropical plants and they like to have warm roots. In my climate the ground can be pretty cool even in summer. In zone 6 I'm thinking you'll have a long enough season to make up for that, though.

Of course, I have *heard* of people growing good peppers in the ground here, so other factors such as drainage clearly come into play. This year I'm going to do a bit of both. Half-burying the pots like that is a great idea, Fiedlermeister. Think I'll try that if you don't mind. :-)

That's my 2 cents, anyway.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2007 at 2:36PM
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nitrotrain(6 in Ohio)

I was wondering the same. We have a privacy fence that surrounds our backyard, and a large maple tree that shades
some of our yard so there is prob less than 5 hrs of direct sunlight on a good day in August. I live in the city limits so we dont have alot of choices on where to plant. Our tomatoes do well every year in the same spot.
I am thinking about growing a few peppers in pots so I can
move them to a better position.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 2:44AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I grow in-ground during summer, then I winter the plants in pots. Like John, I use a large container with the bottom cut-off, buried in the garden. At the end of the season, I lifted the whole thing out of the garden bed, slid the container off the root-ball, hosed the root-ball, pruned roots and foliage, and re-potted in a winter container with perlite, fine bark, gravel, and charcoal as the potting medium.

Josh

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 1:26PM
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brien_nz(New Zealand)

I was going to try Fiedlermeister's idea, but leave the bottoms in the pots. Then at the end of the season pull out the pots and trim the roots that are growing out of the drainage holes, trim the tops and overwinter without re-potting. In the next season I will use a liquid fertiliser feed. This will save a lot of work (and potting soil), but will it be as good or even work at all? What about my Rocoto that is thriving in a 16 inch pot? Will I need to re-pot it?
Brien

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 3:25PM
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fiedlermeister(04/05)

Sounds good to me.I think not cutting out the bottoms won't save you as much on watering but will make it easier in the fall. Moving plants to larger pots for me is on an as needed basis. When it needs a bigger pot just upend and transfer the whole thing to a larger pot and add soil. If you cut them back shouldn't need any changes over the winter.

john

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 3:40PM
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californian

What size pots do you guys recommend? A five gallon paint pail size, or bigger? If using a 5 gallon paint pail would you make holes in the bottom or cut the bottom out, or leave it solid in case you were going to move it indoors?

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 7:57PM
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fiedlermeister(04/05)

I don't know the gallons but I use mostly 12" diameter pots. If you use buckets drill drain holes .Peppers do not like wet feet.

john

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 8:43PM
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bob_in_pc(z8 FL)

I also cast my vote for pots. I like to reserve the lion's share of my garden plot for the "victory" crops - beans, onions, potatoes, etc. Staples....

Pepper gardening is more of a hobby for me and I definitely have more control over nutrients, sun, and over-wintering.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2009 at 7:25PM
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rdback(Z6 VA)

With all things being equal, youÂll have larger plants and more fruit, and to some extent, larger fruit from in-ground plants. At least thatÂs my experience. Remember the old saying; a plant only grows to the size of its pot. ThereÂs no bigger pot than Mother Earth :^). With that being said, I plant both - in-ground and in #7 nursery pots. For extreme heat peppers, I plant at least two plants; one in the garden and one in a pot. The garden always out produces the pot, but the pot is up by the house where I take "special" care of it. Because itÂs easier to isolate these pots, I use the potted plants for most of my seed stock.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2009 at 9:23AM
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californian

How big is a #7 nursery pot? Around here they use gallons, but what they call a 5 gallon pot is really about four gallons, maybe less, because it will fit inside a 5 gallon paint pail with room to spare. How does the pot numbering system go?

    Bookmark   February 24, 2009 at 10:37AM
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fiedlermeister(04/05)

My experience is different from rdback. I have poor soil ( clay and rocks) a short season, and temperatures toward the cool side. Compared to in the ground plants my potted plants do much better. They are in better soil and get more heat. Of course if you try to grow them in "potting soil"in too small of pots and don't put them in the sun... Point is that there are more factors than just ground or pot. Plus I can move them into the garage that first frost and then back outside.

Couple of plants in 12" pots

    Bookmark   February 24, 2009 at 12:29PM
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rdback(Z6 VA)

californian said: "How big is a #7 nursery pot?"

#7 pots differ by manufacturer but, generally speaking, a #7 pot is approximately 14 inches in diameter and 12 inches tall and holds 6 - 7 gallons. Your mileage may vary :smile:

    Bookmark   February 24, 2009 at 2:47PM
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brien_nz(New Zealand)

....Of course if you try to grow them in "potting soil"....
OK what is the best potting medium to use for peppers?
Brien

    Bookmark   February 24, 2009 at 3:23PM
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fiedlermeister(04/05)

I use Pro Mix or Fafard--similar soil-less mixes. By "potting soil" I meant the stuff in bags called potting soil that is mostly soil and is too heavy. You want something that drains well.

john

    Bookmark   February 24, 2009 at 4:12PM
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