Everything You Need to Know About Pruning Pepper Plants

Updated: Jun. 06, 2023

This simple trick for pruning pepper plants (aka topping pepper plants) can help them bear more fruit.

It’s hot outside, which means it’s prime growing season for summer produce like tomatoes, cucumbers and hot peppers. Gardening TikTok is in full swing, with tips for growing strawberry plants in soda bottles and starting plants in milk jugs so they’ll bloom as steadily as our perennial gardens.

This TikTok posted by @meggrowsplants explains how pruning pepper plants can help increase the number of peppers you harvest. In fact, she uses the method of topping pepper plants, or pruning off the tops of young seedlings, to encourage growth.

@meggrowsplants The ones I topped last year gave me SOO many more peppers than the ones I didn’t! #gardentok #gardening #gardeningtips #gardeninghacks #gardenwithme #growingpeppers #growyourownfood #cottagecore #greenthumb #pepperplant #LENOVOJUSTBEYOU ♬ Up – Movie Theme – Giampaolo Pasquile

See what vegetables you should never grow together, plus companion plantings.

Why Is Pruning Pepper Plants Important?

According to Homestead and Chill, topping pepper plant seedlings will help them grow side branches, which bear more flowers, and eventually fruit. Topping isn’t exclusive to peppers—it’s also useful for tomato gardens, 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, pruning pepper plants means they’re less top-heavy and 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.

Hot Pepper Recipes to Spice Up Your Summer
1 / 24