Pruning is the cutting down of old, dead and diseased branches to make way for fresh branches for the overall look of and a better health for the plant. It is an essential practice when it comes to producing a better tasting and a more abundant crop with larger fruit.
When it comes to pepper, people usually are reluctant to prune because of the lack of proper knowledge of how to prune pepper plant. It’s not that there isn’t information out there on the internet, but most of it is spread out. Due to lack of complete information, it is more confusing to follow those info. They can be more harmful than is beneficial! If there is adequate information at one place, its complex language is too hard to follow.
Pruning pepper helps make it more abundant. After all, who does nor want to have a little bit of spice in their life, right? Just like basil, pruning pepper encourages more growth. And just like pruning a zucchini plant, it encourages a more abundant harvest.
After diving deep in the sea of information on pruning pepper plant, we have come up with this easy to follow guide made specifically for newbie gardeners who have nothing to do with sophisticated terms and who just want some fresh pepper from their own garden.
How To Prune Peppers And Tomatoes (The Proper Way)
You might be thinking what tomatoes are doing in this article about how to prune pepper plant. Fun Fact: Tomatoes and Pepper Plant don’t really differ when it comes to pruning, so the method of pruning pepper plant is equally applicable to tomatoes.
Besides, did you know that tomatoes are excellent companion plants for your pepper? Growing tomatoes help shade the soil for the peppers. Also, they can also protect the pepper plant from too much heat from the sun. And o course, there’s salsa. Tomatoes and peppers are not only good together out on a garden, they are also good together on your platter.
The When And Why
Let’s get the when and why of pruning pepper out of the way early on to avoid unnecessary confusion.
While it’s not a necessity to produce pepper, pruning sure does help in making your plant stronger and yield greater. Removing unwanted foliage allows the plant to utilize its resources towards new growth and fruit production. This will speed up the process of ripening. This is a common knowledge among seasoned gardeners. Pruning is a known and proven effective method of getting your fruit bearing plants to yield more fruits. The same also applies to crop and veggie plants.
Now comes the ‘when’ part. One thing you must know by now is that pepper plant is annual bearing. Means, they give you pepper in the spring and summer but would die out in the winter. That is, if you don’t own a greenhouse. Most of us don’t! However, you could overwinter your pepper plant. More on it later!
Pepper pruning can be done in two different times: early in the season and later in the season.
1) Early Season Pruning: Topping Pepper Plants
So It’s been about 6 weeks since you planted your seeds and now finally you can see some growth. Your plant has grown to about 6 inches tall and there are a few big leaves already on the plant. Chances are that your plant is a little too thin and tall for your liking. But you don’t care much as you’re happy to see the new growth at the top of the plant. Hate to break it to you, but you need to get rid of those fresh new branches at the top!
No, there is no typo here. You do need to get rid of that foliage at the top for a better looking and better producing plant. Before you leave, let me explain!
NEED FOR TOPPING: Top it or lose it!
There are three main goals to early season pruning. They are 1) to improve plant branching, 2) to encourage good root production and 3) to provide better air circulation for the plant.
Some varieties of pepper, like jalapeno, grow mostly upward early on in the growth cycle which makes the plant look taller. With more foliage at the top than in the middle, the plant becomes vulnerable in the face of strong winds and risks breakage in the middle. Also, when the peppers grow, the weight of the fruit can lead to bending of the main stem which will again lead to breakage.
Topping Pepper Plant is not just a necessary chore to avoid any mishaps, it also increases the growth potential of the plant. By cutting the top foliage, plant focuses more on the lateral offshoots. This makes the plant bushier and compact with a lot more potential to hold quality fruit. New branches will sprout in no time, don’t worry! If timed correctly, this sort of pruning will result in thicker and sturdier branches which can support better fruits. There is also a better chance of good branching and survival against diseases.
Now, this does not mean that you start topping every kind of pepper out there. Some varieties do great without the need to prune them from the top. You will know whether to prune your plant or not by the look it gives you after a few weeks.
Pinching off New Flowers?
You can also pinch off any new flower buds early on in the season. This focusses the attention of the plant towards growth for a stronger plant which could bear more fruit later. This, however, should not be done if you planted later in the growing season. Pinching the flowers any later can lead to decrease in the yield.
If you remember your grade school science, there is such a thing as plant reproduction. It involves flowers that turn into fruits. If you remove flowers too late in the growing season, there may not be enough time for new flowers to grow, mature and transform into fruits (peppers).
But if you do prune the flowers early in the growing season, it will allow the plant to focus its growth on the roots. This will benefit you in the long run as it will give you a better and stronger plant, more adept at producing and growing fruits.
Pruning Dead Branches
There won’t be much need of pruning for dead and diseased branches early on in the season. However, if you do see them, just get rid of them! Simple!
Most of the peppers only require this early season pruning to give an excellent yield of ripe peppers. However, some may need an extra dose later in the season! It is a common practice for gardeners to prune out any dead or dying parts of the plant. This gives the plant more room for growth of younger, stronger and healthier parts.
Aside from pruning the dead or dying branches, it is also good to prune the pepper plant to a few main stems early in the season. This limits the diseases and allows more sunlight and air to reach the more important parts of the plant, the interior branches.
2) Late Season Pruning
In colder climates, risk of frost is always there. If there are still some peppers left which need some ripening, but the winter is just around the corner, you could follow a simple pruning regimen to speed up the process. Cut all of the non-pepper branches to help the plant focus all of its left resources towards ripening of the few remaining peppers.
Overwintering: How to prune pepper plant for winter?
As already mentioned, pepper plant is an annual bearing plant. They usually die in the winter. However, if you want to keep your plant over winter and want to learn how to prune pepper plant for winter, read on!
Desperate times require desperate measures! You will need to get rid of most of the foliage of the plant. Only leave a few leaves standing just to keep the plant alive. With adequate light and small amount of water every 3 to 4 weeks, you are on your way to keeping your pepper plant over winter.
I hope this clears things up on how to prune potatoes and tomatoes properly.
Pruning your pepper plant properly increases your yield and quality of pepper. However, this does not mean that it’s an absolute necessity. Some varieties of pepper produce an abundant crop without ever needing to be pruned. In the end, it all comes down to the shape in which you pepper plant grows. If it is a has a ‘leggier’ growth, then its best to prune it from the top to make it bushier and stronger. However, if it is already a bushier plant, it can produce a good-looking crop without pruning.
If the goal is to produce a bountiful crop with big ripe peppers, then pruning is definitely recommended. (here comes the but) But, don’t overdo it. Pruning your pepper plant a little too much would cause your yield to decrease. Not only would your efforts go to waste, your produce will also be affected. In this regard, this ‘How to prune pepper plant’ guide would come in handy.
Follow this guide for a stronger pepper plant, with rich and abundant fruit!