Pepper is the most used seasoning in the world and when combined with salt it can be found on almost every table in homes around the planet. Pepper has known health benefits such as: it increases the absorption of nutrients, improves heart rate and blood pressure, promotes healthy cell growth and digestion, acts as an anti-inflammatory and improves the immune system.
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The great thing about pepper is that it doesn’t take much to get its beneficial effects. Piper unigram is native to southern India, loves the hot tropics, and has been cultivated for over 2,000 years. In temperate climates, pepper makes an excellent houseplant. We teach you how to plant pepper and everything about its care and uses.
What do you need
Here are some things to know about growing your own pepper plants so that soon you can grind your own peppercorns for fresh, aromatic pepper. It is important to know this information so that you do not screw up:
- Growth habit of black pepper plants. Black pepper has a vine habit, so it grows well in a basket or pot with a stake or trellis for support. The stems are attached to the trellis so that the plant climbs easily.
- Flowering of your pepper plant. The flowers begin to grow at the nodes of the newly growing leaves. Very small white flowers that form hanging spikes from which round green peppercorns emerge. Over time these grains ripen to red. Growth slows in the winter, but will fruit and flower throughout the year. The pepper plant can produce an abundance of peppercorns in a pot as small as 8 inches.
- Pests of black pepper plants. Pepper has few insect pests. The mealy bug is the main culprit, but only if there are other infected plants nearby.
- Propagation: You can grow it from seeds, but make sure they are fresh as they are viable for a very short period. To propagate it from seed, fill the container with a quality potting mix that contains a good amount of organic matter. Use your finger to poke holes, each 1 to 2 inches deep and 1 to 1 inch apart. Put a seed in each hole, and then cover it with soil. Water the seeds often and keep the soil moist.
- Planting: Mix compost and coarse sand into the soil before planting. Make a hole in the ground and plant the seedlings or plants at the same depth as above. Pack the soil firmly around the base of the plant to keep it in the correct position, and water thoroughly. If planting in pots, use a large enough one as black pepper plants have an extensive root system.
- Location: the pepper plant needs a humid environment with a constant temperature that maintains about 24-30°C. However, the pepper plant can tolerate temperatures between 10-40°C.
- Soil: Pepper plants grow best in soils that are fertile and more or less clayey and retain a little moisture. Good drainage is always the essential need while growing black pepper in a pot or in the ground. Waterlogged soil can damage the plant. The pH level of the soil can be between 5.5 and 7, add lime if the soil is too acidic and sulfur if it is alkaline.
- Sun: Put the plant in the shade, as direct sunlight can damage the plant. If planted in a sunny area, use a shade cloth that filters sunlight by at least 50%. If it grows in a cool climate, it provides sun.
In its native South Indian habit, black pepper is a tree-climbing understory plant that grows in dappled light. When grown as a houseplant, it needs moderate light in an east or west window and should be placed directly on the windowsill or near its light source if grown in a light garden. Benefits from some direct sunlight but not hot midday sun. Like other tropical plants Pepper can be grown outside during the summer months and brought indoors for the winter.
- Watering: Make sure to give the pepper plant plenty of water to keep the soil slightly moist at all times, not allowing the soil to dry out between watering periods.
- Fertilize: Pepper needs low to moderate fertilization with a balanced fertilizer. There are two ways to fertilize the pepper plant. First, you can use a soluble or liquid fertilizer that is applied every two weeks when watering. Or you can use a granular organic fertilizer and cover the plant once a month. Fertilizer application means that the fertilizer is sprinkled on the soil and each time it is watered, a little bit of fertilizer is released. One thing to watch out for: Don’t over-fertilize your black pepper plant. The following is recommended: If your plant is grown under high light and temperatures, then increase the fertilizer. If your pepper plant grows under lower light levels and temperatures, then decrease the fertilizer. During the winter months, stop fertilizing the plant until temperatures are warmer and light levels are higher
- The pepper flowers freely in the summer months and the fruits ripen the following year. Young plants can take 3-4 years to flower, but even modest sized plants can produce hundreds of peppercorns. So, if you know how to grow and care for your plants correctly, you will reap very good profits, just like with most plants. You must be careful because this is a plant that is not very easy to maintain and grow.
- Ideal temperature for the black pepper plant if you are trying to optimize its flowering and fruiting, then providing daytime temperatures above 20°C is a good idea. Black pepper grows best in temperatures above 15°C.
- Peppercorn Fruit: The fruits of green and red pepper are often found on the plant at the same time. The red fruit is the ripe fruit. Peppercorn can be picked whether the color is green or red, depending on the type of peppercorn you want. If you want black or green pepper as the final color then harvest the peppercorn when it is green. If you want white or red pepper, then harvest the peppercorn when it is red.
- Humidity: The pepper plant loves humidity, the more the better. To do this, spray the plant often with soft water. If you grow black pepper in pots, place them in a saucer filled with water, this will also increase the humidity level.