Pepper plants can grow tall and lanky, easily toppling over once they produce fruits. Staking pepper plants provides important support to keep them upright and healthy. With the right materials and techniques, staking is easy to accomplish.
Staking serves multiple purposes:
- Prevents plants from falling over due to heavy fruit load.
- Allows for better air circulation and light exposure.
- Keeps fruits elevated off the ground to reduce rot.
- Makes harvesting easier without low-hanging peppers.
- Reduces plant stress and resulting disease issues.
Follow this step-by-step guide to properly stake your pepper plants for the best results.
Choose the Right Staking Supplies
Many types of stakes and supports can work for pepper plants. Consider height, strength, and material when selecting suitable stakes.
Tall wooden garden stakes are a popular choice. Opt for sturdy, pressure-treated hardwood that won’t rot quickly. Stakes should be 1-2 inches wide and 48-60 inches long so they can be sunk deep and support full-grown plants.
Metal Cage Supports
Cages made from metal 3-4 feet tall are useful for surrounding and containing sprawling pepper plants. Opt for powder-coated steel cages that resist rusting. Or use stainless steel.
Binder Clips or Twist Ties
Use clips, ties, or garden tape to fasten plants to stakes or trellises. Opt for weather-resistant versions that won’t degrade outdoors. Plastic-coated metal ties work well.
Stake Plants When Pepper Plants are Small
Don’t wait until pepper plants are fully mature and loaded with fruit to add support. Stake plants when they are young seedlings recently planted outdoors. Younger stems are more flexible and easier to train to grow upright.
Place Stakes Near the Main Stem
Position stakes about 4-6 inches away the main central stem of the plant. Hammer wood stakes 1-2 feet into the ground. Push metal posts at least 6 inches deep. Remember to situate stakes on the north side of plants to avoid shading tender young growth.
Attach Stems Initially to Stakes
Use plant ties or soft garden twine to gently attach the main pepper stems to stakes or cages. Position ties every 8-12 inches up the stake. And don’t wrap overly tight.
As plants grow taller, add more ties periodically to keep the central stem growing straight along the support.
Use a Crossbar for Anchoring
For very tall, sprawling varieties like sweet banana peppers, add a wood or metal crossbar between two stakes at halfway height.
Gently tie the central stem to the crossbar for anchoring support.
The crossbar prevents toppling better than relying solely on stakes. Make sure to sink corner stakes strongly to support the crossbar’s weight.
Prune for a Strong Central Leader
Pinch or prune away secondary shoots and suckers as the plants grow to maintain one dominant central stem.
This focused growth is easier to stake than branching side shoots.
Remove lower leaves shading the base of the plant. Pruning helps direct all the plant’s energy into the main stem and higher foliage exposed to sun.
Allow Air Circulation Inside Pepper Plants
Avoid staking materials or techniques that compress plants densely. Leave ample space between the stake and stem for air to circulate freely through the plant’s interior.
Good airflow deters fungal diseases. Also allow sunlight to penetrate to lower leaves and fruits.
Loosen Ties as Pepper Stems Grow
Don’t allow ties or clips to dig into expanding stems over time. Periodically check ties and loosen any that are too tight. Add longer ties between plants and supports as needed.
With the right approach to staking, your pepper plants will stand tall and strong all season long. Follow these tips for giving peppers the support they need while still permitting healthy air circulation and growth. The rewards will be straight stems and an abundant pepper yield.