The Jalapeno pepper plant, a cultivar of the Capsicum annuum species of peppers, is famed for its spicy-hot fruits. The Jalapeno is native to Mexico, but is now grown around the world. The plant is sometimes used as an ornamental specimen, though it is primarily planted as a fruit producer in a vegetable garden. The Jalapeno pepper plant is rated to USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 10. It requires about 70 days to reach harvest depending on the conditions in which it is grown.
Jalapeno seeds are widely available throughout the plant’s growing range. Typically, containerized plants can also be purchased in the spring ready for planting in your garden. Jalapeno pepper plants require warm weather for vigorous growth. Daytime temperatures between 70 and 85 degrees and nighttime temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees are ideal. Jalapeno plants cannot tolerate frost and grow very poorly when nighttime temperatures are below 60 degrees. To make best use of the full growing season, either buy containerized plants or start your Jalapeno seeds indoors in late winter, about six to eight weeks before you expect warmer spring temperatures to set in.
Jalapenos prefer a loamy, well-drained soil. Space your Jalapenos at least 18 inches apart in rows three feet apart to allow for sufficient air circulation. Lay down plastic mulching to maintain soil warmth and moisture, and to suppress weed growth. Apply a water soluble starter fertilizer to newly transplanted Jalapeno plants.
Water the plants every four to seven days to maintain constant moisture throughout the growing season. However, be careful not to water so much that the soil is soggy. When the Jalapeno fruits reach one inch, apply an ammonia nitrate fertilizer to the plants at a rate of one-half tablespoon per plant.
Jalapeno peppers can be harvested at virtually any time. Fully ripened fruits typically take a bright red color. However, green fruits are spicy, full-flavored, and ready to eat as well.