Will My Pepper Plants Stay Alive at 38 Degrees?

Peppers prefer warm days and warm nights but there are some ways you can protect them.
Peppers prefer warm days and warm nights but there are some ways you can protect them. | Source

Pepper Plants and Cooler Temperatures


Peppers are one of the plants that can be classified as a very sensitive plant when it comes to dipping temperatures.

Pepper plants of any variety quite frankly like it hot--whether they're chili peppers or sweet peppers.

While it's not hard to grow peppers at all, the trick is getting them to survive because they don't like wide fluctuations in temperature.

They typically like a hot growing season and they especially like the ground to stay nice and warm--especially when they are flowering and bearing fruit.

Great fluctuations in temperature both directly to the fruit or flowers themselves or to the roots of the plant will unfortunately many times end up stunting the plant beyond repair causing it not to completely mature and bear fruit. Or worst case scenario, the plant or the fruit and flowers will wither and die.

Frost Threats for Very Tender Vegetables


Peppers are one of the vegetables listed on the not-so-hardy in cooler temperatures list. That makes them classified as not only a "tender" vegetable but a VERY tender vegetable.

Some of other veggie and herb companions on the list:

  • Hot peppers or sweet peppers
  • Watermelon
  • Pumpkins
  • Winter squash
  • Lima beans
  • Cantaloupe
  • Eggplant
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Beans
  • Basil
  • Nasturtiums
  • Sunflowers

These vegetables are not big fans of cool winds either. They all prefer temperatures of about 60 degrees and above during the day but really become vibrant in temps of 70-95 degrees.

If the temperatures stay below 55 degrees for several days to a week, it's usually goodbye crop.

For peppers to flourish, they prefer soil temperature of about 65 degrees or warmer and in some climates, that can be a tall order.

Planting and Care Tips for Peppers


Peppers like to be planted in loose, well drained soil--don't forget to supply fertilizers with potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen to give them a good start. Then feed regularly according to the fertilizer's directions.

You can start peppers from seed but keep in mind if you have a short growing season anyway, by the time you get your plant into the ground, it may be in time to only get a small return on your efforts.

Select plants that are grown in your own locale for the best success. Most varieties found in home improvement stores or grocery store settings are shipped in from parts unknown which most probably have a completely different climate than where they are planted. To get the best start, plants should be hardened to the climate where they will grow.

Plant outdoors at least 2 weeks after the last predicted frost.

If you have an unpredictable climate, a great way to plant peppers is in large containers. This gives them plenty of room to spread out and also affords the grower the ability to move them to warmer locations like a garage or inside the house if frost threatens.

Another great spot to plant peppers is along the side of a house, garage or shed where they receive blazing sunshine. The added protection of the house should keep them from "wilting" from cooler winds.

If the plants are in the ground and the forecast is for temperatures below 50 degrees, the plants need to be covered. Try these simple ideas:

  • Mulch with straw, pine needles, or regular garden mulch to keep the plant roots warm
  • Cover with a paper sacks but try to get the entire plant covered down to the root
  • Use plastic bags the same way - use wood stakes to hold the bags in place over the plants
  • Use sheets or tarps to cover the plants before the temperature drops and hold in place with rocks or stakes
  • Wrap the plants in newspaper or newspaper followed by plastic and secure with clothespins--try to cover the entire plant, however--not just the top
  • Many people who grow peppers use black plastic mulch throughout the growing season to retain warmth around the plant's base and then use plastic covers as the plant matures
  • Planting in raised beds can keep peppers warmer in times of dropping temperatures
  • Covers are easily added to raised beds as well to keep in warmth
  • Transferring to a greenhouse is a great idea for those with short growing seasons

The YouTube video shows what happens when a frost hits pepper plants. Great tips on what to do with the peppers because they're still salvageable--even though the plants may be ruined.

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Comments 2 comments

akirchner profile image

akirchner 4 years ago from Central Oregon Author

Good idea, Joyce~ That would work really well too I have no doubt...we usually use sheets and tarps, plastic wraps and then take them off in the morning when the sun comes back a blazing~ It's hard here with a very short growing season because we're high mountain desert.


writer20 profile image

writer20 4 years ago from Southern Nevada

I use burlap around the base on tropical plants when our temps drop to the 30's. This does work but we are only in those low temps for a short time overnight.

Voted up useful and interesting, Joyce.

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