The entire family of peppers, whether sweet or hot, is classified as fruits because the pepper seeds are used for propagation.
Whether you think mini sweet peppers are a vegetable or a fruit, one thing is clear: they are crunchy, delicious, and nutritious. They’re also easy to grow in a hydroponic garden!
- Most Suitable Hydroponic Method: DWC or Ebb & Flow
- Best Grow Medium: Rock wool
- Time to Germinate: 7-14 Days
- Time to Maturity: 50-80 days
- Optimal pH Range: 5.5-6.5
- Optimal Nutrient Mix: CaNO3, MgSO4, and NPK
- EC Range (Nutrient Strength): 2.0-3.0
- Growing Difficulty: Moderate
Germinating Hydroponic Mini Sweet Peppers
Depending on the variety, pepper seeds can be difficult to germinate. Some may sprout in a day or two, while others take their “sweet time” or never sprout at all.
These tips can help improve your germination rate.
- Discolored Pepper Seeds
Discolored seeds, the ones that are different from the majority, need to be tossed.
- Weed Out the Puny Ones
Plant the big seeds, and throw out the small ones.
- Pre-Soak Sweet Pepper Seeds
Pre-soaked pepper seeds will sprout faster.
I prefer paper towel seed germination because it doesn’t waste starter plugs if a seed fails to germinate. This method also makes it easy to see which seeds show the most potential. Pre-soaked seeds should sprout in 7-14 days. I like to place seeds under a grow light to germinate, but it’s not required. If you pick good seeds, the germination process is pretty simple.
If you prefer to plant seeds in a seed starter plug, or rockwool, you’ll have the best results if you bottom water them. I do this using a simply plastic container that has a slightly raised center, and add nutrient solution until it just begins to touch the bottom of the plugs. When bottom watering mini sweet pepper seeds and seedlings, I use a nutrient solution with an EC of 0.75.
Bottom watering helps limit the growth of mold, mildew, and fungus.
Pre-Soak Pepper Seeds with Hydrogen Peroxide
My favorite way to give seeds a head start is by soaking them with hydrogen peroxide. As the molecular structure of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) breaks down, the extra oxygen atom splits off and oxygenates the water. This process helps the seeds uptake additional oxygen, which will fuel their germination.
Additionally, hydrogen peroxide will kill any bacteria or pathogens on the surface of the seed through oxidation.
Hydrogen Peroxide Pre-Soak Recipe
- Add 1oz of 3% hydrogen peroxide to 1 pint of water.
- Soak seeds for 30 minutes to an hour.
- Rinse seeds with fresh water.
Best Hydroponic System For Mini Sweet Peppers
🏆 Deep Water Culture or Ebb & Flow
Mini sweet peppers, and peppers in general, grow well in hydroponic gardens. My favorite systems for growing peppers are deep water culture (DWC) and ebb & flow. Both methods are easy for beginners to set up and maintain, and pepper plants thrive in them.
Transplanting & Spacing Pepper Plants
If you grow seedlings outside of your hydroponic system, transplant them once they reach 6-8″ tall. All varieties of peppers need considerable space to grow their best. Space minis sweet pepper plants 16-24″ apart for best results.
Tight spacing causes the plants to underperform as each plant receives a reduced amount of light.
Transplanting Size: 6-8″ | Plant Spacing: 16-24″
Nutrients for Pepper Plants
Tons of people have contacted me asking what the best nutrients are for growing hydroponic peppers. I’ve tried a lot, but my absolute favorite liquid concentrate nutrient kit is the Flora series from General Hydroponics. The 3 bottle kit is simple to use, and is designed to support the plant through each growing phase.
Mixing each bottle at 75% of the recommended dose on the bottle label has worked really well for me. For example, if I have 4 gallons of water in a bucket/reservoir and the label calls for 1tsp (5ml) per gallon, I would add 3tsp (15ml) per gallon. It has been my experience that this keeps the nutrient solution strength in an acceptable range.
The only supplemental nutrient I add for hydroponic peppers is calcium & magnesium. Since I’m a General Hydroponics fanboy, CALiMAGic is my go-to product. It does a really good job of preventing/treating edema and helps the plant reach its full potential.
Lighting & Temperature
Light and temperature are two essential elements when growing peppers.
Hydroponic mini sweet peppers will grow best with HID or LED lighting. If you’re using T5 grow lights, place the lights as close to the plant as possible without burning it.
Note: Not all LED grow lights a created equal. If you plan to use an LED grow light, make sure it’s a quality light.
The Mars Hydro TS600 is a super affordable LED grow light that I’ve had a lot of success growing peppers with. It’s a small light, only good for around a 2ft x 2ft flowering/fruiting area, but it works great for a single pepper plant. If you’re planning to grow more than one plant at a time, I’d suggest getting a grow light with a larger footprint. Keep in mind that each pepper plant will need a decent amount of space.
Peppers like warm temperatures and mini sweet peppers are no different. They’ll be their happiest, and grow best in temperatures ranging from 65-75°F.
It’s also important to make sure your pepper plants get plenty of airflow and ventilation. If you don’t have small fans in your indoor garden, invest in a couple of cheap clip-on types. These little fans will help keep your pepper plants happy.
Lighting Type: HID or LED | Temperature: 64-75°F
Supporting Hydroponic Mini Sweet Peppers
When growing peppers, the weight of the fruit is a special consideration.
Before growing hydroponic mini sweet peppers, or any peppers for that matter, make sure your hydroponic system is structurally sound enough to support the weight of fruit-bearing pepper plants. If you’re growing several plants, they can become extremely heavy in a short period of time.
A trellis or tomato cage may come in handy in this situation. A lot of people also like using vertical strings and clips when growing peppers in a greenhouse. Strings and trellises work great outdoors and in greenhouses, but can be difficult to use indoors in terms of providing enough light to the entire plant.
Woven wire fencing can be used to make excellent plant cages.
Woven Wire Plant Cages
You’ll find woven wire fencing at any local farm store, and most big box home improvement centers. It’s versatile in that it allows you to make plant cages to the exact size you need. Also, woven wire fencing is inexpensive and can be used for outdoor tomato and pepper cages as well.
A woven wire with 4-6″ square spacing will be best suited for plant cages as it will provide plenty of room for the plant to grow unhindered.
To make the plant cage, cut off a piece of fencing long enough to wrap around the plant without choking it. On one end, snip the horizontal wires off flush with the vertical wire. On the other end, leave 4-6″ of the horizontal wire sticking out so you can bend them into hooks. Wrap the wire into a cylinder, and use the bent horizontal wire to hook onto the vertical wire on the opposite end.
Regardless of how you choose to support your plants, make sure it is anchored to the hydroponic system in a way that doesn’t hinder the maintenance of the system itself.
How to Pollinate Hydroponic Peppers
Hydroponic mini sweet peppers rely on pollination to produce fruit. Since you are not growing peppers outside, where pollination naturally occurs, you will need to assist in this process.
Peppers are androgynous, meaning their flowers contain both male and female components. The vibration will release pollen from the flowers.
Vibrating the flowering stems with a cordless toothbrush works great. Gently shaking or tapping the flower stems will work too. Both methods work to pollinate and fertilize the plant. Manually pollinate your plants daily using these techniques until peppers begin to develop. Don’t freak out if you forget to do this for a day or two. Your plants will still produce.
Manual pollination may not be as effective as bee pollination, but it will work exceptionally well for your indoor hydroponic peppers.
How to Prune Mini Sweet Peppers
When the plant reaches 6-8″ tall, prune the top 1/2-1″ of the plant. Remove the top about 1/8″ above a growth node. Early pruning will help the plant “bush out” rather than becoming tall and spindly. While it’s not linked to increasing yield, topping the pepper plant will keep it shorter, which is generally a good thing in a hydroponic garden.
🤏 Pinch First Blooms
Hydroponic mini sweet peppers will begin developing blooms very early. It’s a good idea to pinch off these early blooms. The idea is to keep the plants’ energy focused on growth, rather than premature flowering and fruit production. Removing the first blooms increases overall plant productivity and yield.
Allowing these early bloomers to grow will normally result in stunted plant growth and poorly developed peppers.
How to Harvest Mini Sweet Peppers
When harvest time comes, often around 80 days mature, use sharp scissors to clip the pepper from the plant. Harvest hydroponic mini sweet peppers once they reach full size, and have turned color but still have a little green left on them.
Resist the urge to pull, as you may tear or damage other peppers or branches. Hydroponic pepper plants can continue to produce for a long time if you take good care of them.
How to Store Harvested Peppers
If stored properly, peppers enjoy a decent shelf life. In a refrigerator, peppers will normally stay fresh for 7-14 days, or more. Of course, they can also be dried, turned into salsas, pickled, and other creative solutions that will extend their useable life.
Fun Facts About Mini Sweet Peppers
Hydroponic mini sweet peppers can yield up to 75 peppers per plant!
Hydroponic peppers are generally of better quality and sweeter than those grown in soil, not to mention faster to grow. Mini sweet peppers have a more intense sweet flavor than their regular-sized counterparts and are easy and fun to eat.
Sweet peppers are filled with Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and potassium, which is great for heart health. They also add folate, iron, and fiber to your diet.
One regular-sized red pepper (or 2-3 minis) offers 169% of the recommended daily dose of Vitamin C. Vitamin C helps to keep all body tissues running smoothly, and can be a benefit in cardiovascular health, immunity health, eye diseases, and prenatal development.
Mini sweet peppers are often more expensive than full-grown peppers, with their vibrant colors bringing a higher price. Growing your own mini sweet peppers can add sweetness to your palate AND your pocketbook!
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