How To Grow Banana Peppers

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Banana peppers are one of my favorite “treat” vegetables. Why do I call it a treat? That’s because that is my main purpose of growing banana peppers; to use as a treat or appetizer-type food. Banana peppers are very easy to grow and usually very plentiful. One banana pepper plant can supply an average gardener with more than enough of banana peppers.

Growing Banana Peppers

By the way, I grow the sweet banana peppers. If you prefer the hot banana peppers, that is fine too. They are grown much the same way as sweet banana peppers, and go great in chili or spaghetti.

Banana peppers are high in fiber, beta-carotene, and vitamins A and C.

You have quite a few cultivars to choose from : ‘Bananarama’ is an 8″ early banana pepper that ripens to red in 60-75 days. The ‘Cubanelle’ is another sweet banana pepper great for frying, or using in salads, and ready to pick in about 70 days. The ‘Cubanelle’ is very sweet and ready to harvest in about 75 days.

A smaller sweet banana pepper is the ‘Chilly Chili’ cultivar, which looks like a cayenne but are not hot. These banana peppers are perfect for containers because of their compact size. There are many more cultivars of banana peppers to choose from.

There are many uses for banana peppers, such as adding to chili and spaghetti (as mentioned previously), breading and frying, making stuffed banana peppers, adding to stir-fries, baking, steaming, pickling, or eating them raw.

Here’s quick guide for growing banana peppers in your vegetable garden.

How to Plant & Care for Banana Peppers

How to Grow Banana PeppersBanana pepper seeds need high soil temperatures to germinate, so in all but the hottest climates start them indoors 40-60 days before transplanting time. Choose a location where the temperature is 70-75° F in the daytime and no lower than 60° F at night. You can grow banana peppers from seeds or set out transplants.

When the soil is consistently 60° F or more, set banana pepper transplants 12-24″ apart in rows 24-36″ apart in well-drained loam amended with compost. If the soil is low in magnesium, dig in a dusting of Epsom salt. Plant sweet and hot banana pepper varieties as far away from one another as possible to avoid cross-pollination. You can expect sweet banana peppers to have a mildly tangy flavor from cross-pollination.

Use a plant starter solution to prevent transplant shock. Banana peppers like soil consistently moist, but not soppy. Use a soaker hose if needed to accomplish this.

How to Harvest Banana Peppers

It is best to pick banana peppers when they turn from a green color to a more yellowish tint. Pick banana peppers often so the plants will continue to produce. This is key to receiving maximum output from your banana pepper plants. Use garden shears or scissors to cut banana peppers and a half inch from the top of the pepper. Do not pull banana peppers from the plant as this could damage the plant.

For more information on harvesting banana peppers, please see the How To Pick Banana Peppers page.

Pests & Diseases of Banana Peppers

Knock off aphids with a strong shot with the water hose (not too strong though, we don’t want to damage the plant); use a mild soap solution to treat heavy infestations. Insecticidal soap is the best type of soap to use for aphids. Handpick any beetles or caterpillars as you find them. If whole banana peppers rot, check the pepper for maggots or corn earworms and destroy the entire banana pepper plant if found.

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You can avoid bacterial problems through clean cultivation. Banana peppers can become susceptible to blossom end rot. Control blossom end rot by providing consistent moisture throughout the season. This is best accomplished by using a soaker hose (as mention in the Planting section above).

You will appreciate having banana peppers when you pick your first batch, and serve up in a salad or added to your favorite spaghetti recipe.

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Comments

  1. I would like to know how sweet banana peppers are polinated. I used a blossom set and only one of four blossoms produced a fruit. I don’t have many bugs or bees so should I be hand polinating? Thanks, Don

    • I would like to know this too as I was given a pepper plant and I have it on my enclosed, screened in balcony (live in apartment). It gets a lot of sun and heat and is growing well, but I too do not have bees to pollinate – should I take to my sister’s and leave for bees or can I grow. It has already born flowers

  2. Nancy Thompson says:

    We have seen in a friend’s garden a banana pepper plant with the peppers growing up rather than hanging down. Have you ever seen this and what is the reason for this?

    • Hi Nancy – I’m not sure why the banana peppers are growing up. Some peppers, like Tabasco, do grow up but I’ve never seen a banana pepper do that. I don’t think it will hurt the plant though. Very interesting!

  3. Pepper plants self-pollinate, but what I like to do to help them along is to slightly flick the bottom of the plant when the plant is pollinating. By flicking or doing a slight shake, it seems to help the pollen dust the flower.

  4. lynda newby says:

    can u freeze banana peppers?

    • Hi Lynda – Yes, you can freeze banana peppers. Cut off the tops and clean out the seeds and membrane from the inside, then blanch the hollowed peppers before freezing.

  5. I notice red wasps all over my 4-5 banana pepper plants in the heat of Mississippi afternoons. Are they polinating? They are the only insect I seem to see on them.

  6. Also, can you freeze just the seeds to use for planting next spring? If so, what’s best method?

    • Hi Dee – It will depend on whether the banana peppers you are growing are heirloom (open pollinated) or hybrid varieties. If they are heirloom you can save the seed by freezing. Generally, freezing the seeds is used for long term storage – like 5 – 7 years. If you plan on using them next season then storing them in a brown envelope or similar container in the refrigerator should be fine. You can still freeze them if you prefer.

      If it is a hybrid variety then there’s really no point in saving the seeds because they may not even germinate and if they do the seedling will not grow to be exactly like the parent plant.

      I hope this answers your question.

  7. I hav been growing my peppers indoors due to the wether change and i started them a little late in the year but now they have little red bugs on the flowers and leaves. They are not eating the flowers but they are eating the leaves. Also they havent caused any major damage but i am afraid if i let them continue to stay then they will destroy my plants. What can i do to get rid of them?

  8. Last year was my first time growing hybrid banana peppers. I would like to know if the plant will come back this time in the spring/summer, or do I have to go and purchase seeds/plant for this year to replant.

  9. Kathleen Virgillito says:

    My banana pepper plants are being eaten alive. One has all of the leaves eaten off of it and the other was laying on the ground this morning with its leaves still intact. I thought it might have been cutworms but went outside tonight and found slugs all around them. I sprinkled them with salt. Will this salt harm my plants?

  10. Debi Mills says:

    I have recently bought two grown hot banana pepper plants from our local Home Depot store. The peppers have black streaks on them. I am not sure if this a fungus and I should return the plants or this is something that can be fixed.
    Thanks
    Debi,
    Southern California

  11. wayne holland says:

    my pepper plants the leaves are all failing off just leaveing the stem.what is wrong with them?

  12. We have Sweet Banana Pepper plants that are kinda short to begin with when we bought them. They haven’t grown very tall, and are now starting to fruit already. We planted them in the beginning of May, along with the tomato plants, and the tomatoes are doing great! Could the goofy, unpredictable weather be the reason, or is this normal?

    We live in S.E. Ohio in the Ohio Valley.

  13. I have sweet banana hybrid plants but mine are not turning yellow there still green but super hot. when will they turn yellow ?

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