How To Grow Poblano Peppers

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Poblano peppers are a super all-around pepper to have in the garden. I just love the taste of poblano peppers; having mild heat and a bit of a twang. Poblanos are great in salsa, dips, stuffing mixes, or sauteed.

One of my favorite uses for poblanos is to saute with onions and mushrooms, then pile them high on top of a grilled steak. Poblano peppers are also called Ancho peppers and originate from Mexico.

Poblano Ancho Pepper

Planting & Caring for Poblano Peppers

Poblano seeds are slow to get going, so sow the seeds about 8-12 weeks before the last frost date.

Sow several seeds ¼” deep in 2-3″ earth-friendly containers such as peat pots filled with lightly moistened seed starting mix.

Water well and place the pots in a well-lighted, warm area, 80° F – 85° F. To prevent the seedlings from damping off, keep the soil damp but not wet, and provide good air circulation around the plants.

Feed the seedlings with a good organic fertilizer every three weeks after they have established. When seedlings are about two inches tall, thin to one plant per pot by cutting out the smaller ones.

Once the plants are about five inches tall and the nighttime temperatures are above 60° F, harden the plants off by slowly acclimating the peppers to the garden.

Poblano Ancho Pepper

After two weeks of hardening off, plant them in the garden. Peppers need full sun, rich soil (amended with compost, well-rotted manure, or leaf mold) and good drainage.

Allow two feet between plants. If the peppers are starting to produce flower buds, pinch them off and continue to do this for 1-2 weeks; this forces the plants to put their energy into growing leaves and roots.

Mulch with 2-3″ of organic matter. Mulch keeps weed growth down and maintains soil moisture.

Keep the plants lightly moist, but not soggy. Pull any weeds if they appear. Feed the plants with an all-purpose water-soluble organic fertilizer about six weeks after transplanting and again if the plants start to look pale or the leaves are small.

Harvesting Poblano Peppers

Red Poblano Ancho PepperPoblano peppers look very much like a small wrinkled, bell pepper.

Leave poblanos on the vine a little longer, if you want them to turn red. For eating poblanos, you can harvest them green or red – it is a matter of personal taste. For drying, fully ripe peppers are best.

Harvest poblanos once they feel firm and get a glossy sheen. Cut the fruit off with clippers, as the branches of pepper plants are brittle and break off easily.

For more information on harvesting poblano peppers, please read How and When To Pick Poblano Peppers.

Pests & Diseases of Poblano Peppers

Aphids, cutworms and hornworms can become problems while growing poblanos. You can knock aphids off the leaves with a spray from the water hose or use an insecticidal soap spray.

To avoid problems with cutworms (they can chew young seedlings off at the soil line) place two-inch-tall cardboard or aluminum foil collars around the new plants—with 1-inch below soil level and 1-inch above.

Caterpillars, including corn earworms and corn borers, destroy the fruits; hornworms eat both fruits and leaves. For information on controlling any pest infestation, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service or ask for advice at a local nursery.

Diseases are not very common with home grown poblano peppers.

Poblano peppers can be a nice addition to any home garden. If you are a pepper or chili lover then you should definitely give these little gems a try. You are sure to enjoy them.

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Comments

  1. Those Pablano Peppers look really good when they get red. I’m a big fan of peppers. I particularly like Cayenne Peppers. They’re supposed to be very good for you. I imagine the Pablano’s are as well. Any veggie that has a bright color to it has to be a good source of vitamins and minerals. Awesome article and blog….thanks.

    Kev

  2. Tee — Do you think that the peppers need a full 14 days of hardening off? It’s such a long time to be moving plants in and out. Do you think you could get away with less?

    • Hi Bill – Two full weeks might not be needed depending on your current weather conditions and how much you leave the seedlings outside per day. In many cases, the hardening off process might only take a few days, in other cases maybe a bit longer.

      The 14 days is just a guideline I use to make sure my seedlings are good and ready before I transplant them. Maybe that’s being overly cautious, but I guess I’ve become that way due to losing plants in the past because they died rather quickly after setting out.

  3. I planted my poblanos months ago and my plant is about 2ft tall and buds all of the time but has never produced a pepper. What can I do :( I was looking forward to stuffed peppers this year!

    • Hi Cortney – Sorry to hear about the poblanos. It sounds like a possible pollination problem. You need bees and other insects to help pollinate the flowers. It also helps to have at least 2 or more plants (planted next to each other) to increase the chances of pollination. If you have two or more plants, then you need to either encourage more bees to your plants, or try hand pollinating the flowers.

      You can do this by taking a Q-tip or very small paintbrush and brush the insides of the flowers. Start at one flower and go around to all the other flowers two or three times. Continue this each morning as the flowers open up. It should help jump start the pollination process.

  4. I have some good looking poblano pepper plants. One has two nice peppers growing. The other has not produced. I see that some of the lower leaves appear to have been cut off. What would be causing this?
    I also have two bell pepper plants. Get blooms but no fruit. Any suggestions?
    Thanks

    • Hi Bill – I’m not sure why one plant produces well while the other doesn’t. That’s pretty strange. The leaves could be cut off by a rabbit, deer, or groundhog perhaps.

      The bell peppers may not be setting fruit if it has been very hot recently in your area. Heat can cause the fruit set to slow and can also kill pollen. You may need to just wait out the hot weather until it cools a bit.

      • Tee, I am in NC and it has been very hot. Last week we had 5 100+ days in a row!
        Do you think any insects could be cutting those leaves?
        Thanks, Bill

        • Hi Bill. Yes, it has been hot here in the east. That could be a definite reason for the lack of fruit production.

          The leaves cut be eaten by a pest. The only one that can do that kind of damage is a hornworm. Usually they will eat the leaves, but leave the veins of the leaf intact, in most cases.

  5. My poblano peppers are growing profusely, I have 3 per very large pot, and they are well over 3 feet tall. They have been flowering just as well, and setting fruit. There are over 50 flowers and peppers per plant. The problem is the peppers havent grown more than the size of a pea. Some of the early pea-sized fruits have turned almost black, and when I squish them, they are full of juice and seeds. Is it the weather? Im in Tacoma, WA, and we’ve had a very cool, wet spring and summer (only 1 day over 80 so far!). Should I pinch off the flowers and/or the growing tips? Any other ideas? Thanks!

    • Hi Joan – That is pretty odd. It could be temperature related as poblanos like warm weather. You need temperatures in the mid to upper 80′s for good production of almost any pepper.

      • Would you recommend pinching off the growth ends? Each of the pepper plants has over 50 growth ends that have branched out of the main stalk. There are also over 50 flowers on each plant. Each plant has at least 50 (maybe even 100!) of those tiny pea-sized fruits.

        Im thinking so much energy is going to the growth ends and current flowers, as these plants are massive, and nothng seems to be happening with the tiny fruits. Im thinking that the number of these little fruits might also be a limiting factor.

        Thanks!

    • Joan,

      We recently left Tacoma and had a terrible time growing peppers there due to the short sun season. If you have success, I’d love to hear about it! I’m glad they are growing well…just wish you were getting more peppers and larger ones!

  6. I have been so looking forward to the wonderful flavor of publano peppers. However, after cooking my first batch I discovered that they are way too hot for my taste. I was hoping for the mild peppers I was given by a friend. Is there something I can do to affect the flavor of the plants so they will not be so hot. Is this a crazy question? :)

    • Hi Karen – I’m really surprised to hear you say they were hot. Poblanos have always been very mild in my experience, but everyone has a different tolerance for heat. I don’t know of anything you could do to lessen the heat of them. Perhaps harvest them when they are young and green. They can get a little spicier once they have matured to a red color.

      That’s really the only thing I know to try.

  7. Hi. I bought a bundle (2 poblano’s) from Home Depot, and put them in a very large plant with Scott’s organic soil. I live in South Florida, where the temp is currently averaging upper 80′s. Based on your above comments, you would think my Poblano plants would be thriving. Well, they’re not. :(

    One of the three Poblano plants I planted had it’s leaves shrivel up once planted, and the leaves droop and look pathetic. Is it dead? The other two were doing great, until I left for a business trip (gone 3 days) and when I returned they were both falling for a simlar fate as their brother.

    I need help, I love Poblano’s, I live in South Florida, I almost feel like the heat is too much for them. (or possibly I don’t water enough?) The woman at Home Depot that helped me told me if they droop like they’re doing, it could actually mean that they’re getting too much water, instead of not enough. As such, I’ve tried to taper how much water I give them. I water them once every other day. But with the Florida Heat (and they are in direct sun light all day) is this too little?

    PLEASE HELP!!!!

    • Hi Shannon – It sounds to me like they are not getting enough water. Plants planted in pots need more water than when grown directly in the ground. The soil in pots drains much faster and dries out quicker. I would recommend when the temperatures get 85 and above you should water twice a day – once in the morning and once mid-afternoon.

      If temps are in the mid-80′s then once a day should be fine. One way to check to see if they need water is to stick your finger a couple inches in the soil. Feel moist? Don’t water and re-check the next day. Feel dry? Then water the plant well thoroughly soaking the soil.

      • Tee,

        We are just south of Tampa and just got an Earthbox. Have you tried those yet? Folks swear by them around here and ALL of the vegetables I have seen grown in them here in the FL sun, heat and humidity ALL seem to be doing well. We just planted 6 plants in our first one today. I can’t wait to see what kinds of results we get!

        Just a thought.

  8. Ted Montrose says:

    Our Plablano peppers were too hot this year, as hot as our jalepeno peppers. Any ida why? Thanks

    • Lee Walke says:

      When I’ve planted hot peppers near milder peppers, the fruit of the milder pepper plants was much hotter. Did you plant your Jalapenos near your Anchos?

  9. Hi Last year I harvested seeds from a poblano and laid them out to dry on a paper towel for about three to four weeks and about three to four weeks ago I put them in starter trays with some other seeds. The other seeds came on within about six to eight days but nothing yet on my poblanos. Do you think I should buy some seeds or should mine eventually germinate?

  10. New Gardener says:

    I started growing poblanos inside over the winter and moved them outside back in April when they were about a foot tall.. Indoors, they appeared to be healthy plants. Over a few weeks, I hardened them off the best I could. When first transplanted, staked, and mulched they encountered some strong wind and were a bit damaged by it – some only a little bit and some badly. After this, I covered them with wire-and-poly greenhouse but instead of recovering, some of the leaves began to wilt a little bit and turn yellow. I tried an organic fertilizer and an iron additive, but nothing seems to help – these once healthy, green plants look sick. Recently, Some of the leaves appear to have been eaten as there are small pieces missing here and there. Weather here has been cooler and rainy, but as mentioned before, they have been covered. Soil seems to have some clay content and was amended with aged manure. Ph tested to a number six. Any ideas about what might be affecting these plants?

  11. Marie LaBroad says:

    My plants are over three feet tall. Setting fruit well. Had 4 ready to pick and when I went to the garden this morning thee were gone. Hung about 2 1/2 feet from ground. Have a rabbit hanging around. Could he be the bandit?

  12. Ruth Beneke says:

    I have one pablano pepper in a row with other varieties of peppers. The other peppers have set peppers on already, but that pablano has not even bloomed yet, could that be, because there is only one plant?

  13. My poblano is in a large pot grown from purchased seeds. There were many little peppers that began very well, but as they got larger, some had brown spots on the sides and part of the walls of a few peppers were thin. I used Miraclegro potting mix. The temperatures have been around 95-100+ for the past month or more so I watered everyday. A clerk at Lowe’s told me I was watering too often, so I tapered off. The peppers are very slow growing so I can’t tell if the other peppers will have brown spots. Also, the leaves are light green color instead of dark green, but the color of the peppers look fine. Someone else also told me they lack calcium, so I went looking for limestone, but didn’t want to buy 50 lbs. for one potted peppers. What is the real cause of the browning on the sides? They’re not like blossom rot at the bottom. Thanks.

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