Everything You Need to Know About Pruning Pepper Plants

This simple trick can help pepper plants bear more fruit.

Collage Of Tiktok Showing Pruning Pepper Plants Via @meggrowsplants/Tiktok (3)

If you haven’t noticed, it’s hot outside, which means it’s prime growing season for summer produce like tomatoes, cucumbers, and hot peppers. Gardening TikTok is also in full swing, with tips for growing strawberry plants and starting plants in milk jugs blooming 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 tops her plants, 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 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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Sarra Sedghi
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.