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Do Peppers Like Acidic Soil? What pH Do They Prefer?

farmer planting pepper

Every gardener needs to know that pH has a huge impact on how well your plants grow. Some plants prefer alkaline soil, while plants like peppers love acidic soil. In addition to watering and getting your plant enough sun, you’ll have to take measures to make the soil more hospitable for your plant.

If peppers aren’t grown in adequately acidic soil, they may underproduce or produce peppers that don’t taste as good. That happens because peppers can’t absorb nutrients as well from alkaline soil, so they basically starve. For best results, peppers prefer a pH between 6.0 to 7.0, which is slightly acidic.

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Ideal Pepper Growing Conditions

Mammoth jalapeno pepper plant
Image Credit: Kristen_S, Shutterstock

Keep in mind that pH isn’t the only important variable that affects how well your plants grow. The soil type, sunlight, and watering schedule are also crucial factors you should put serious thought into. Let’s see how these affect your pepper plant and how to tailor them to give your plant the best chances of success.

Ideal Pepper Growing Conditions:
  • Acidic soil that is rich with organic matter, like compost and peat.
  • Ample drainage—pepper plants especially hate wet feet, which is a gardening term for persistently damp roots.
  • 6 to 8 hours of strong sunlight daily, whenever possible.

How to Correct Alkaline Soil for Pepper Plants

First, take a soil sample and sprinkle some vinegar on top. If the vinegar fizzes, your soil is too alkaline for pepper plants. To correct this, you’ll need to amend with an acidic compound like elemental sulfur, iron sulfate, or sphagnum peat moss.

Elemental sulfur is your best option, acidifying the soil over time. Other compounds like sulfur or aluminum sulfate can introduce too much sulfur at once and cause chemical burns on plants. Not everyone has this stuff on hand, though. In a pinch, you can mix spent coffee grounds into the soil around your pepper plant to lower the pH.

What Happens if My Soil Is Too Acidic?

Image Credit: DROPERDER, Shutterstock

Peppers like acidic soil, but they only like a little acid. Too much, and the plant won’t be able to absorb water and nutrients as well.

In excessively acidic soil, the leaves on your pepper plant may turn dull and die off. Acidic soil can also make young pepper plants grow more slowly or not at all. Pepper plants in soil that is too acidic may also be at higher risk of root-related fungi and bacterial infections.

First, do a quick test to make sure the soil is acidic. Take a soil sample and add some water and baking soda to it. If the soil fizzes, that means the soil is too acidic. You can correct the pH with lime, wood ash, or baking soda mixed into the soil.

What Other Plants Like Acidic Soil?

If you’re growing peppers, you might also be on the lookout for other plants that like the same type of soil. Thankfully, you have a lot of options. Let’s see what some of the best plants to pair with peppers are.

Other Plants That Like Acidic Soil:
  • Corn
  • Broccoli
  • Beans
  • Azaleas
  • Blueberries
  • Dogwood
  • Willow
  • Oak
  • Cucumbers

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Peppers are delicious, with a huge variety spanning from mild and sweet to Mount Vesuvius-level heat. No matter which ones you grow in your vegetable garden, tempering alkaline soil to make it more acidic will help your peppers grow and produce larger, tastier crops.

Featured Image Credit: yuris, Shutterstock


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