How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Jalapeños

Growing jalapeños at home is a great way to add a little heat to your cooking. In this complete guide, horticultural expert Lorin Nielsen teaches you how to plant, grow, and care for these sought-after plants.

Jalapeño peppers on jalapeño plant in the garden.


Jalapeños are spicy and delicious peppers that can make any spread, burger, or sauce mouth-wateringly tasty. Growing jalapeños yourself is a great way to always have access to this zesty spice.

Eaten all over the world, jalapeño peppers are enjoyed in different ways. As a staple in Mexican cuisine, they can be roasted, baked, and even sizzled on the grill. They’re often diced and worked into dishes both savory and sweet. And they’re easy to grow in your garden.

Here’s a shocking fact about the jalapeño that will take your breath away: these were the first peppers to travel inside a NASA space shuttle! They accompanied the astronauts on NASA’s fifth space shuttle mission in 1982. The report sent back to the grower (who also was an astronaut, although not one aboard this mission) was, “Tell Woody the jalapeños were outstanding!”

This may make you wonder how this proud pepper is grown and cared for. Well, wonder no longer. We’ll show you how easy it is to grow jalapeños in your own garden!

Early Jalapeño Chile Pepper

Early Jalapeño Chile Pepper Seeds

Our Rating

Early Jalapeño Chile Pepper Seeds

Megatron Jalapeño Chile Pepper

Megatron Jalapeño Chile Pepper

Our Rating

Megatron Jalapeño Chile Pepper Seeds

NuMex Lemon Spice Jalapeño Chile Pepper

NuMex Jalapeno

Our Rating

NuMex Lemon Spice Jalapeño Chile Pepper Seeds


Close up of green jalapeño pepper ready for harvesting.
Plant Type Edible
Family Solanaceae
Genus Capsicum
Species Capsicum annuum ‘Jalapeño’
Native Area Mexico
Exposure Full sun
Height 3′
Watering Requirements Moderate
Pests & Diseases Aphids, thrips, leafroller, flea beetle, spider mite, fusarium wilt, blight, mosaic virus
Maintenance Moderate
Soil Type Well-drained, loamy soils with lots of organic matter
Hardiness Zone 2-11 as annuals, 9-11 as perennials

What Are Jalapeños?

Jalapeños are delicious green peppers that have a slightly earthy and spicy taste. They are widely used to spice up foods and make pickles. The botanical name for the Capsicum annuum species is Capsicum annuum var. ‘Jalapeño’. 

This particular plant has a variety of other interesting names like chile gordo, huachinango, or cuaresmeno which identify different attributes of the fruit. Dried red jalapeño peppers can be smoked to produce the smoky heat that we refer to as chipotle pepper.

Native Area

Close up of hand holding jalapeño peppers ready for harvesting.
Jalapeños are farmed widely in Mexico, Texas, New Mexico, and California.

Their name is derived from their origin point. There is a large, beautiful city in Mexico named Xalapa, the capital of the Mexican state of Veracruz. The name of this city is sometimes spelled “Jalapa”. It is from this city where the jalapeño is believed to originate.

Even now, Mexico is a leading producer of jalapeño peppers, and they are extensively used in Mexican cuisine. Other heavy farming regions include Texas, New Mexico, and California.


Flowering jalapeño pepper plant with white blooms.
Jalapeño flowers are small and white.

A healthy jalapeño pepper plant can grow as tall as two to three feet in height. Each plant can produce as many as 25-30 jalapeño pods. Once the pods mature, they appear deep green in color. However, if they’re left longer on the vine, the color changes to purple and then red. 

Overall, they have a Scoville heat rating of 2500-8000. This puts them at a nice sense of warmth, but not as hot as other related chili peppers like the habanero or ghost peppers. Some serrano peppers and cayenne peppers are spicier than jalapeños too.

The flowers of the jalapeno are white and fairly nondescript, but from them emerge the future chili peppers. Its leaves are smooth and dark green in color, with a few cultivars such as the purple jalapeño having a purplish tinge to both leaves and stems.

The mature fruit will be between two and four inches in length and will either be dark green or purple at first. As it ages on the jalapeño plant, it will turn dark and then gradually red in color before drying out.


Planting and growing from seed is quite easy. Here’s a quick breakdown of when, where, and how to plant these hot peppers. 

When To Plant

Small pepper seedling planted in soil.
Start seeds indoors before the last frost date in your region.

When it comes to planting a jalapeño pepper from seed, most people start indoors. The ideal time is usually eight to ten weeks before transplanting. In most of the US, this happens between January and March.  A seedling heating mat can spur germination if you start them indoors.

Pepper plants can be transplanted outside once the frost has passed, which is usually after April. Keep in mind that hot peppers are native to sunny and hot climates of Mexico. They’ll need frost-free conditions and warm sunlight.

The ideal soil temperature for jalapeño pepper varies between 65°F and 80°F (18-27°C). 

Where To Plant

Pepper plant in full sun in the garden.
All pepper plants love direct sunlight, including jalapeños.

Look for locations in your yard that get full sun. Peppers are sun-lovers and will need lots of it for the best growth. Once you’ve identified those parts, look for a spot that provides some shelter from high winds. This will keep your plants from getting wind-damaged or knocked down.

Container growing is an option for your jalapeños. They will need a container that has a reasonable amount of room for best development. Use a pot that’s large enough to grow a tomato plant in, as your pepper will have a similar root spread and depth. 

A little afternoon shade is okay for your jalapeño plant, particularly during the hottest part of the day. When the sun starts hitting those intense periods of heat that come in mid-summer, that afternoon shade can protect your peppers from sunscald.

Some people like to provide extra support for heavy-bearing peppers. Plan in advance to add a stake when you first plant jalapeño seeds so that your plant has support from the start.

How To Plant

Young pepper plants in pots ready to plant in the garden.
Allow your young plants to adapt to their new environments before planting.

If starting jalapeño pepper seeds in advance indoors, sow between ½ and ¼ inch deep. Cover with a light layer of loose, moist soil. Keep the soil moist and cover the plants to provide humidity until the seedlings are about two inches tall. Gradually introduce more and more air until they’ve adapted to lower humidity.

Before planting your seedlings outside, adapt them to your climate by putting them out for progressively longer periods of time each day. Space your jalapeño plants at least 12-14 inches apart when you transplant them. This gives them enough room to spread their roots out.

How to Grow

Here are some important tips on jalapeño plant care that you should know to keep them happy and productive. 


Jalapeño pepper farm with rows of pepper plants in full sunlight.
Plant in a position with at least eight hours of direct sunlight per day.

Jalapeños love full sun and need at least eight hours of sunlight every day. They can tolerate partial shade conditions, but really do need as much full sunlight as you can give them.

If you have to grow peppers in any partial shade, try to select a location that gets shade during the hottest portion of the day. Direct sunlight is best, though.


Hands using yellow watering can to water potted pepper plants.
Keep the soil lightly moist but never waterlogged.

The best time to water these pepper plants is in the morning. This allows the foliage to dry out during the day. Don’t allow water to pool up around your plant’s base, as this can create root problems for your plant.

Provide about an inch of water per week in hot weather. Most of the time, keeping the soil evenly moist is fine. You can use a soaker hose or water at the base of your jalapeño plants.


Close up of jalapeño peppers with moist soil in the background.
The soil should be well-draining to prevent root rot.

Aim for a soil pH level between 6.0 and 6.8 if possible. While they’ll tolerate slightly acidic or slightly alkaline conditions, neutral conditions are ideal. If you’re uncertain, use a pH test kit to determine your average soil pH. A rich soil full of well-rotted compost is also ideal. Ensure it drains well, and you’re set.

Temperature & Humidity

Pepper plant stems and leaves next to marigold in a raised bed.
Jalapeño peppers love warmth and can’t tolerate cold climates.

Since they’re native to hot and sunny climates, the ideal temperature is around 70°F-85°F (21-29°C). The plants are not frost-resistant at all and can show signs of cold damage once the temperatures dip below 40°F (4°C).

The ideal level of humidity for pepper plants ranges between 50% and 70%. A greenhouse or humidifier can help maintain humidity levels. If you’re in a less-humid environment, don’t worry as your plants can tolerate lower humidity as well. Just make sure they have enough water to drink.


Gloved hand holding fertilizer next to pepper plant, feeding the soil.
Regular feeding will ensure a strong harvest.

To give your plants a good start, make sure they have plenty of nitrogen right after planting. This will spur the plant’s initial growth. Work in a slow-release fertilizer prior to planting.

Two to three weeks after germination, provide another small dose of a balanced fertilizer. When you start to see flowers forming, it’s time to start planning on a flowering and fruiting option, so switch to a 5-10-10 or a 3-5-5 fertilizer. This will stimulate flowering and fruiting rather than foliage growth.

Fertilize on a regular schedule through the summer to keep production up, then taper off as you approach the fall.


Close up of pepper plant in the garden.
Trim suckers to improve production and airflow between stems.

Take a good look at each pepper plant as it’s growing. If it has suckers or stems that seem too thin, but has much healthier and thicker ones, you can pinch off the suckers to promote more vigor in the rest of the plant. This also allows for better pepper production.

In fall as the weather starts getting colder, pepper production will die down. Remove the plant at the end of the season so that you can prepare the bed for a future crop. Or overwinter yours inside or in a greenhouse to have more peppers ready for spring.


Young pepper seedling in paper container.
Collect seeds at the end of the season to grow more plants.

The easiest way of growing jalapeños is from jalapeño pepper seeds, as described above in the planting section.

However, it’s possible to start growing jalapeños from cuttings as well. Here’s how:

  • Select a healthy offshoot branch and take a 6”-8” cutting from the tip.
  • Dip the cut end into water, then rooting hormone.
  • Place in a pot of pre-moistened potting mix.
  • Strip all but a few leaves from the tip of the cutting.
  • Place it under a plastic cover to keep the humidity up.
  • Care for your cutting as you would other types.

If you plan on saving jalapeño pepper seeds for future use, avoid growing multiple kinds of peppers. These can and do cross-pollinate throughout the season. The hybrid pepper seeds produced may not resemble their parent plant, and in some cases may be entirely sterile. Stick with one variety of peppers if you’re going to save seed.


Hands placing harvested jalapeño  peppers into white container in the vegetable garden.
Harvesting time will determine what kind of pepper you get.

Peppers have varying stages at which they can be picked. The earliest peppers will be an even medium green. They should feel firm to the touch. These are your traditional jalapeño type, ready to use whether raw or cooked. Purple jalapeños will be a rich purple color instead of green.

As the pepper matures on the plants, it will gradually begin to turn yellow, then red. Once completely red in color, this is the “huachinango” stage. It should still feel firm to the touch, but not quite as firm as the green form.

At any point, you may encounter the remaining peppers, known as a “chile gordo”, also called fat jalapeños. These are great for stuffing with cheese as poppers!

To harvest jalapeño peppers, snip through the stem about half an inch above the pepper end using clean pruning shears. Don’t pull the peppers from your plants, as this can cause damage.


Small baskets of green refrigerator peppers ready for storage.
Jalapeños will last up to a week in the refrigerator.

Fresh peppers can be taken straight from the garden to your table. But what if you want to store them and get to them later?

Place your peppers into a paper bag and tuck them into the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. Stored this way, they will last for a few days to a week after harvest from the garden.

If you have red jalapeños that you won’t be using immediately, consider drying them for long-term storage. Thread a sewing needle and sew directly through the end of the stem right where it attaches to the top of the pepper. Hang these up to dry in a cool, dark place with lots of airflow.

Once completely dry, you can store them whole, smoke them to turn them into chipotles, or grind them to make chili powder.

You can also freeze whole or chopped jalapeños for later use. Since freezing breaks the cell walls inside the pepper, this is usually best for peppers you plan to use in cooking. The texture will be slightly softer once they defrost.

Common Problems

Growing jalapeno peppers is pretty straightforward as a general rule. But there are still a few issues you might encounter.

Growing Problems

Wilting and curling pepper plant with growing problems.
Environmental problems or incorrect care can lead to wilting.

Occasionally, the green leaves of your plant may roll downward. This is usually a reaction by plants to temperature or weather conditions. If you keep them evenly watered and remain watchful, you should see them perk back up once conditions improve.

If the foliage is lush and green but it’s just not producing for you, your plant may need a phosphorous boost.

Small plants that are starting to flower while they’re still small can become stunted if allowed to form fruit. Pinch off early blossoms to encourage your pepper plants to grow to a larger size.


Thrips on the white flower of a pepper plant.
Thrips are common pests of pepper plants.

There are a number of pests that attack your jalapeño pepper plants.

Sucking pests such as aphids or thrips are a constant problem for most gardeners. A good preventative measure is to regularly spray plants with water to knock them off. Follow up with neem oil on all leaf surfaces and on the flowers if water doesn’t do the trick.

Many moth larvae will call the shrubby pepper foliage home as well (or at least dinner). Some of those include the beet armyworm, the omnivorous leafroller, pepper weevils, and the corn earworm (also called tomato fruitworm). For most larvae or caterpillars, hand pick them. Using Bacillus thurigiensis (BT) as either a spray or powder will keep them at bay.

Various forms of flea beetle are known to chew a ‘shothole’ pattern of holes in leaves. Use organic pesticides such as spinosad or pyrethrin to deter these.

Leafminers chew distinctive zig-zag patterns into your leaves and can cause severe damage to the foliage over time. Remove any leaves that show signs of leaf miner infestation and destroy them. Neem oil can deter them, and spinosad can kill larvae that haven’t gotten into the leaf yet.

Finally, spider mites are an ever-present problem for most gardeners. Use a dual strategy against these by spraying the plants with water daily. Then try applying neem to leaves and flowers, while also encouraging beneficial insects through diverse plantings in the garden. You may also want to apply beneficial nematodes to your soil to deal with mite larvae.

Most of these pests will be easily controlled through mechanical means. Start with those and then move to pesticides.


Pepper plant with disease that causes the leaves to turn yellow.
There are several diseases that can attack plants from the Capsicum genus.

Many different diseases can wreak havoc on your jalapeño plants as well.

Early on when you’re starting seeds, and when pepper seeds are just germinating, you may encounter damping off. This is usually caused by pythium or rhizoctonia fungi in the soil. Ensure you start pepper seeds in a new, sterile seed-starting mix.

Fusarium wilt is related to damping off in that it’s another fungal form. While it can also cause a damping-off-like effect to jalapeño seedlings and young plants, it’s most likely to cause serious wilts through root or stem rot. 

Various microbial inoculants are effective against pythium, rhizoctonia, and fusarium fungi. An antifungal product can help to slow down the spread of these soilborne fungal pathogens.

Two forms of blight, southern blight and phytophthora blight, are also fairly common. Both are also soil-transmitted, and both are caused by watering. Phytophthora blight is caused by water splashing up onto plants, whereas southern blight is overly soggy soil. Ensure you water at the soil level with a soaker hose. Do not overwater.

Some forms of bacterial spot occur in jalapeños, and they can become fatal. At the first sign, spray weekly with a copper-based fungicide to keep it from spreading. Remove seriously damaged foliage so the spores cannot spread. If an entire plant is infected, remove and destroy it.

Finally, mosaic virus is spread by pests such as thrips and aphids. There is no cure for this virus. It causes mottled coloring on leaves, and plant growth may be stunted.

While fruit from infected plants is still edible, it may not be as good as the fruit from healthy ones. It’s best to remove severely infected plants entirely to try to preserve others from viral transmission through pests.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to grow jalapeños?

Most transplants will bear fruit within 75-85 days, but some early varieties can produce faster.

How many jalapeños do you get from one plant?

A healthy growing jalapeño pepper plant can produce up to 25-35 jalapeños in a growing season.

Can you grow jalapeños from store-bought peppers?

Growing a jalapeño plant from store-bought pepper seeds is possible, but not guaranteed. Many of the ones sold in supermarkets are hybrids and their pepper seeds do not necessarily breed true. It’s worth a shot, but don’t expect huge harvests from any jalapeño you grow this way!

Do jalapeños get hotter the longer they sit?

Yes. Heat stress directly relates to the spiciness of the pepper, and age generally means the pepper has gone through some heat stress.

Pepper seedlings in a raised bed display delicate stems with smooth, oval-shaped leaves growing in pairs along the stem, highlighting the significance of adequate pepper spacing for optimal growth and airflow between plants.


How Far Apart Should You Space Pepper Plants?

Planting a garden full of peppers? You may be wondering how many you can fit in one space. Pepper plants need a bit of space to thrive and grow fruit. Read on alongside pepper grower Jerad Bryant and learn how much legroom they need.

A wooden raised bed contains vibrant pepper plants with lush foliage, showcasing healthy growth in a garden setting.


How to Grow Peppers in Raised Beds for an Abundant Harvest

Rainbows of peppers could be just months away if you plant them in raised beds in late spring. This warm-weather crop thrives with well-drained soil, full sun, and some secret maintenance tips that will multiply your harvests. Former organic farmer Logan Hailey explains how to grow abundant peppers in a raised garden bed.

The shishito pepper plant features slender, wrinkled green peppers hanging from lush, bushy foliage with broad, glossy green leaves.


How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Shishito Peppers

Mild, wrinkled, and incredibly flavorful, ‘Shishito’ peppers are growing into mainstays of American cuisine. One specimen produces dozens of wrinkly chile peppers on a compact plant, making it a perfect choice for gardens big and small. Learn how to nurture this variety alongside seasoned pepper gardener Jerad Bryant.

Dry red hot peppers with wrinkled bodies stored in a glass jar for long-term preservation.


How to Dry and Store Hot Peppers

Hot peppers grow dozens of fruit per plant! Preserve those excess harvests with these tried and true preservation methods. Follow along with pepper gardener Jerad Bryant to learn how to best dry and store hot peppers.

A close-up of green 'Anaheim' peppers with glossy skin reflecting light.


How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Anaheim Peppers

‘Anaheim’ peppers are slightly spicy, flavorful, and perfect for the backyard garden. You’ll have fruit all summer when you plant one in the ground, a raised bed, or a container. In this guide, learn how to grow productive ‘Anaheim’ peppers alongside gardener Jerad Bryant.