This TikTok posted by @meggrowsplants explains how pruning pepper plants can help increase the number of peppers you harvest. In fact, she tops her plants, pruning off the tops of young seedlings to encourage growth.
According to Homestead and Chill, topping a pepper plant seedling will help it grow side branches, which bear more flowers, and eventually fruit. Topping isn’t exclusive to peppers—it’s also useful for tomatoes, eggplant and other nightshades.
You don’t have to top your pepper plants. The benefits depend on the plants themselves and their environment. In addition to bearing more peppers, topped pepper plants are less top-heavy, which makes them easier to support with a cage or plant stand. They’ll also be bushier, making the peppers less susceptible to burning.
There is one slight hangup: topped pepper plants will take a little longer to bear fruit. So if you live somewhere with a short growing season, sit this one out.
How to Prune Pepper Plants
You can top small types of spicy peppers like jalapenos. (Your larger peppers need more room to grow, so they benefit from being taller.) You’ll need to start pruning pepper plants before they’ve grown too much. Top each pepper plant while it’s still young and only has 6-7 leaves, and leave at least 4 leaves on the seedling.
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I've been living in Chicago for the last 12 years and have grown to love the spicy giardiniera served at restaurants. So I developed my own to use at home. We love it on everything from eggs to sandwiches and even pizza! —Andrea Quiroz, Chicago, Illinois
Stirring up pork sausage, wild rice and jalapeno to taste makes this a terrific side. Or serve it with cornbread to turn it into a main dish. It’s easy to make ahead and reheat for a potluck meal. —Debbie Jones, California, Maryland
Radishes add a wonderful crunch to this colorful salsa that is also superb over grilled fish. There's just enough jalapeno to give flavor without much of the heat. —Mary Beth Relyea, Canastota, New York
I love to share my cooking, and this hearty sheet-pan dinner has built a reputation for being tasty. People have actually approached me in public to ask for the recipe. —Laurie Sledge, Brandon, Mississippi
My hot wings are a foolproof way to curry a little favor with the men in my life. Thanks to tons of sweet (orange marmalade) and hot (Sriracha) flavors bursting through with every bite, these wings are a winner on game day—or any day of the week. —Jennifer Locklin, Cypress, Texas
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Store-bought rotisserie chicken makes this spicy chili easy, but you could also cook your own. We like it with various combinations of sour cream, green onions, cheese and salsa on top. —Emmajean Anderson, Mendota Heights, Minnesota
I grew up eating stuffed peppers and thought my husband would immediately love them as well. He didn't at first, but then I created this slow-cooked recipe. Because he loves fajitas and tacos, I created these peppers with all his favorite flavors tucked inside. —Nicole Sullivan, Arvada, Colorado
These boats are wonderful with tortilla chips, beans or rice. You can also cover them, pack them on ice, and take them to a picnic or potluck. Straight from the oven or cold, they're always delicious. —Frances Benthin, Scio, Oregon
Sarra Sedghi is a Birmingham-based writer and editor specializing in food, travel, and history. Her work has appeared in Allrecipes, Atlas Obscura, Eater, MyRecipes, Polygon, and Tasting Table. She excels at narrative writing, and received her MFA in Narrative Nonfiction from the University of Georgia in 2017.