Can I grow peppers indoors without hydroponics

colpaarm(NY)September 9, 2005

Quite frankly, all I know about hydroponics is that it allows you to grow vegetables indoors. Considering the word "hydro" is in there, I'm not even sure that soil is involved in this process!

Here's the botom line. I have two fairly large pots with about five cayenne pepper plants each. One has about 15 peppers, some mature and just waiting to turn red, others just starting to grow. The other has tons of bloom with some just starting to grow. However, it's september and I want to ensure that I get all my peppers before the cold. Can't I just bring these two pots in, put them in the window in an area that will get good sun, and continue to water them inside? Or does the window filter out some of the sun's spectrum necessary for plant growth? Maybe I can simply get a "plant light" (sorry for my ignorance) and turn it on maybe six hours a day and continue to water it like it was outside? Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

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If you want to just get the last peppers to ripen and the overwinter the plants it is OK to keep them in pots by a sunny window. I have a jalapeno bush which has produced for three summers and cayenne, which is now two years old.

Fall time I moved them indoors and kept by south side window whole winter. When bringing them indoors you may have to spray them with something to get rid of aphids and other insects, otherwise they will start rapidly multiplying, when they get into environment without predators.

My jalapeno plant even produced some fruits during the winter and early spring it was blooming and producing much erlier than any other plants.

If you want you pepper plants to grow and keep producing a lot through winter, then you will need to invest into some hi-tech hydroponic systems and some special high power lights. The plant bulbs or tubes sold in hardware stores are not really for growing plants, they just make plants to look better.

I do now have problem that I want to overwinter more plants than I have room for. I may try rooting cuttings of some and keep them just under a shop light to keep them alive.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2005 at 10:09AM
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Vera_EWASH(z5 EasternWA)

I did exactly like svalli did last year with Jalapeno...after potting up, I pruned a bit, and adjusted to lower light conditions then brought indoors. Didn't have to spray mine down for bugs tho cause they had none and didn't get any the whole winter. I just washed them off really good. Peppers left on matured and beginning in Feb got blooms and fruits. This year I'm doing the same with a few Thai Hot's...I've had these two inside as of a week ago.


    Bookmark   September 13, 2005 at 12:11AM
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john47_johnf(Maine z4/5)

I have overwintered lots of plants with just window light. As stated above all will not prosper but only survive. Shouldn't be a problem ripening pods already on the plant. Peppers, especially those with smaller pods, may continue to produce all winter.

Here is a link that might be useful: Winter Peppers

    Bookmark   September 13, 2005 at 6:17AM
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chopstocky(z6 NY Sunset 37)

What about the bugs i can't see in the soil? How do I eradicate them or look for signs that they may be in there?

You think I can try this with plants I dig out of the garden?

    Bookmark   September 13, 2005 at 3:40PM
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This is awesome info, guys. And the lighting system alone with hydroponics seems to make the whole deal prohibitive. Running a 500Watt bulb for 16 hours is a good way to go broke!

Okay, so right about now I have about 25-30 cayennes in one pot (about 5-6 plants in the pot) and about 15-20 in the other (again, about 5-6 plants). I'll bring them in and make sure to put them by a window with tons of light. After I get my peppers to mature, should I prune the cayennes back a little for "overwintering" (term I never heard before)? I say this because, especially recently, I've fed the two pots with miracle gro and the foliage, and thus number of flowers and peppers, have doubled! Not sure if I should keep all of that on the plant over the winter. Thanks once again for your help.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2005 at 10:28PM
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habbob(San Diego)

Not bragging but I have jals, habs, and cayennes that make fruit year round. It can get cold here (relatively) in the winter. Very very rarely we will get frost in the mornings.

I just like the idea of indoor pepper growing. Everyday is ideal light with no pests. Assuming it's in a closet you could up the CO2 and really get it growing. Imagine the perfect peppers you could grow.

Personally I would go organic rather than hydro. I don't have a lot of experience with hyrdo and I already have a nice growing medium.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2005 at 8:43PM
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habbob(San Diego)

Guess I didn't read it all the way before. You are right colpaarm, hydroponics uses no soil.

Usually it's grown in a foam type material. Similar to those green foam blocks that you get a bunch of flower stuck in for your girlfriend. Rockwool comes to mind. Others fill a plastic basket with small river rocks and plant in there. I'm not sure if they sprout it before they plant it in the rocks.

The point of growing this way is that the medium retains very very little. In terms of water and nutrients, they bleed out of the growing medium at a rapid pace. As a side affect (effect?) you have to constantly monitor PH levels and nutrient content. Also something I don't know much about (when growing hydro).

A side note: I have heard from people that grow certain indoor plants ;), that organic is tastier than hydro and much less effort.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2005 at 8:56PM
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hotpepperfiend(ON / Canada)

Contrary to popular belief, having a 400W High intensity Discharge light won't make you go broke. One way to offset the expense is to conserve energy in other areas of the home. I have two massive orange habs under lights right now: one in a hydroponic "bubbler" and one in soil.
Hydroponics is wonderful once you get the basics down. I use only high quality organic ferts in my hydroponic set ups and the results are often amazing. Both soil and hydroponics will work with hot peppers indoors, but if you don't have access to good light, they'll be slow and less productive than otherwise. Good luck!

    Bookmark   September 22, 2005 at 9:11AM
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shellbell3252(z7 AL)

Hi yall,im tryin to figure out how to get my cyeene peppers to fruit threw the winter,without doing the hydro,I thought maybe a growing light indoors or a small green housr outdoors,can yall help me figure out how to get my cayenne pepper to fruit threw winter,we are in alabama,thanks!!!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2005 at 4:50PM
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mwagt(z5 NE)

Just thought I'd respond to this since I've done some reading these past couple of months on indoor gardening. I live in an apartment and don't get sunlight through my windows very long each day, even in summer. Somehow I managed to grow 2 Jals and 1 Serrano from seed to transplant stage where they stalled out because of lack of proper lighting. So I ended up with a whopping 0 peppers from those plants.

That's why I decided to finally figure out a way to grow different plants year round inside. Knowing my main problem was lighting, I've read alot of advice on the internet.

Some swear you have to have at least a 400-watt HPS (High Pressure Sodium) or
MH (Metal Halide) system. They are expensive. Some you may be able to find for less than $200, but I've noticed they usually seem to be at least that much. Especially if you want a 600-watt or 1000-watt system.

Not wanting to spend that much I decided to buy a 4 foot 2-bulb shoplight. I bought it for something like $26.95 after tax. The bulbs come separately. I made sure I got a 'ready-to-use' shoplight. If you're not careful you'll end up with one that an elecrician needs to put a plug on for you.

This is important: From what I've read you want to buy 'Cool White' lightbulbs. The Cool White is good for vegetative growth, and Warm White for flowering/fruiting. It has to do with the light spectrum of each. Cool White's are easy to find, but I haven't come across any Warm White's at Home Depot or Ace Hardware. They are harder to find. So I'll probably just use the Cool White's throughout the growing process to see how it works. My 4-ft light takes 2 40-watt T-12 bulbs. According to the box the shoplight came in, each 40-watt bulb will equal a 175 (watts) incadescent. So my lighting system should equal 350 watts if I go by that. Still, I imagine that would only be useful for a handful of plants at a time.

A good example of how much of a difference the Cool White's make is what I noticed while trying to grow seedlings last spring compared to now. I have a 2-ft shoplight that I tried using regular kitchen and bath lights (T-12's) with to grow seedlings. All were skinny and leggy even though I kept the light low just a couple of inches above them. Almost all fell over and died. About a month ago I decided to switch to Cool Whites to check out the difference if any. I planted 3 tomato seeds. Well, the difference was huge. I now have 2 nice little tomato plants with good strong stems and they need to be tranplanted badly. For me it's proof positive that Cool Whites are good for seedlings and at least the early growth stages. Will have to wait and see how they do once I get the bulbs for the 4 foot shoplight. I have seen pics from others where they only had 100 watts of light and had nice plants all the way through fruiting.

I'll just be using soil. I'm not into the hydro thing yet. I'll have fun experimenting with these lights and it wont cost me an arm and a leg. If it doesn't work then I'll consider a switchable HPS/MH system.

Hope this helps,


    Bookmark   September 28, 2005 at 7:13PM
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kashacres(Z3 Canada)

I have a few plants out doors now (Zone 3a). Can I did these up and pot these for indoor growing? How do peppers pollinate?

    Bookmark   October 5, 2005 at 2:58PM
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All chiles self-pollinate....some are more difficult than others, but, if the air moves at all around your plant, they self-pollinate.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2005 at 9:38AM
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This is all very interesting. I tried to keep some pepper plants last winter by several methods, none of them successful. One method was to bare-root some plants & keep them in the garage (works for geraniums - but not for peppers). A couple of them, I dug up & kept in a window. They rotted - I think that the potting soil was a bad type.

This year, I had several that I grew in containers all summer, and a few will be kept in the garage, fairly dry (Im told this method works for some varieties; does work for fuscias) and a few small ones are already in South-facing windows indoors. So far, the ones that I brought inside have kept their leaves, but it's only been two weeks.

Part of my theory is that by growing them in containers all along, they will have less transplant trauma. I dont know if that is a factor.

The indoor plants so far are a couple of Tabascos, and a couple of plants grown from Chinese hot peppers from the kitchen cabinet.

My goal is more to keep the plants alive for eary crop next year, but if their current peppers ripen, that would be an extra bonus.

Time will tell.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2005 at 11:51AM
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I think what MWAGT stated is good advice. I start all my plants inside and have peppers forming on hundreds of plants, mostly ornamentals by the end of May when we normally can transplant outside(ornamentals just get sold). Peppers are the one vegetable crop that I know of that thrive on mid 70s day and night temps. As far as cost- I paid $6.46 +tax for most of my shop lights at WalMart. I had 24 double bulb lights going most of March and April. My electric use was probably similar to a 10 minute hot shower for each one in my family. If my math is correct 48 bulbs x 40watts= 1.92 KW. At 12 cents per KW hour it costs 23 cents per hour to operate 24 shop lights. For me to keep them on 14 hours/day costs a little over $3.22 . If you compare that to the daily cost of heating an outside greenhouse, even a small one like my 15' x 40', you save considerably by providing artificial lighting during the cooler months and keeping the plants indoors.

My question is- Do you want your house to look like a jungle with huge pepper plants growing all winter? If your only goal is to harvest as many peppers from the plants as you can to prevent from frost try just harvesting the plants and hold them until you have time to pick the peppers. you can cut the plants off at the ground with pruning shears and hold them, pods intact, for 3-4 weeks in an unheated garage without having the spoilage of a picked pepper. If it makes your house look empty start a new set of seeds in December for a young, healthy 2006 crop. I wouldn't suggest mixing the two unless you are prepared for a plague of insect and disease problems.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2005 at 3:55PM
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First time pepper plant owner...It's now fall here in Castle Rock Colorado, Do I need to move the bush inside? It is planted in a large ceramic planter. Or leave it out and then will it grow again in the spring?


Kjell Wygant

    Bookmark   October 6, 2006 at 4:09PM
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I have about 10 varieties of hot peppers growing inside using the bubble method. I spent about a month experimenting with different ways of doing it, and have found out what works good for me.

I have one 400 watt MH grow light that I started with. It costs me $200. I then purchased a PH / PPM meter / tester. I bought 2, 3 1/2, and 5 gallon buckets and lids. I also bought some grow baskets, and rock wool cubes.

I started out killing pretty much everything except the hot pepper plants and Basil. I killed about 5 tomatoes plants before figuring it out.

Basically I put only two 4" blue bubble stones per air pump Whisper 10-20-40 gal pumps.

I check and keep the PH in the solution between 6.0 - 6.3 for most of my plants. I use about 200 ppm for new pepper plants, and 500 for new tomato plants. When the plants are about 1 foot tall, I increase the ppm on the peppers to 500, and 1000 for the Tomato. When the peppers start blooming, I increase the ppm to 1000 ppm. When the tomatoes start blooming I increase to 1500 ppm. When the pepper plants get over 2 foot tall and have lots of peppers on them, I increase the ppm of the solution to 1500 ppm, and tomatoes to 2500 - 3000 ppm.

Having a lot of air bubbles makes the plant grow fast, the solution changes PH less, and the plant is much happier.

One thing I noticed is that when both tomato and pepper plants are small they take a long time to form a good root system. Then once they get about 6" tall, they take off root wise.

To make the small seedlings grow faster, when I place them in a 4x4x4 rock wool cube I cut a hole about 1 1/2" all the way through it. I then place the bubbler directly beneath the cube, instead of the bottom of the bucket.

I now have about 10 pepper plants in various stages growing hydroponic. Several plants have dozens of peppers on them and the Jalape plant is growing the fastest of them all.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 9:05PM
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Don't be fooled, you don't need to spend a lot on a hydroponics setup to be successful. Do something on your own, check out these 2 ideas... Neglect the fact that they were fabricated for the growing of marijuana, a plant is a plant and they need the same basics... Water, nutrients, air, light.
The first one would obviously be better for plants like jalapenos, in fact, I just made one of those myself (tupperware container, same design) for the sole use of growing jalapenos. Also, a 600W HPS is going to get the best results, but a few CFL's will do the trick. Slower grow and less yield, but my grow setup only has 84 watts and I'll still get peppers out of it. :)

    Bookmark   December 6, 2008 at 5:20PM
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Don't worry as much about the wattage, it's the lumens that count - and the "color" or wavelength of the bulbs. You don't need a high intensity discharge or HID lamp ( metal halide or high pressure sodium) to grow pepper plants. Shop lights are acceptable, and compact flouresents will also suffice IF you get enough lumens. Neither of these will equal a HID as far as "canopy penetration" or complete coverage. T-5 flouresents are a possibility as well. You can get these for 150.00 for a 4 tube system, and they almost equal a 400 watt metal halide. If you do choose a HID lamp - do not use a high pressure sodium. You do NOT need the red orange spectrum to get peppers to bloom. Age of plant, and daylength (use a timer) will do that for you. Most chili plants with atleast 2 months of non-seedling growth will begin to show flowers on a 16 hour on cycle. You will not get the results you can with the sun though, no matter which lamp you choose. As far as hydroponics, you don't need them either. Don't believe that you cannot use organics to grow indoors in containers either - you can, but it take some $$ and some knowledge to make it worth your while. Sorry, long post.

Good luck TiMo

and... it only costs an average of 12.00-15.00 a month to run a 400 watt HId for 18 hours a day.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2008 at 10:32AM
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AND the HID lights weren't originally designed for growing MJ - they were fabricated for industrial use and roadway lighting. GEEZ Timo

    Bookmark   December 8, 2008 at 10:41AM
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I live on Long Island and I was wondering if I could plant some Cayenne peppers outdoors. Any tips to make them grow? I am starting them indoors. Anything Will help!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 8:09PM
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