Jalapeno peppers, a mainstay in many kitchens, can be easily grown upside down in hanging basket containers. While “topsy-turvy” or upside down hanging basket tomatoes have the spotlight again this growing season, jalapeno peppers, as well as many other pepper varieties, can also be easily and successfully grown.
Besides producing a crop of jalapeno peppers, similar to other small pepper varieties, the plants are attractive can also be used as ornamental baskets. Jalapeno peppers are three to four inches long and are a bright green; the longer the pepper stays on the plant, it will turn to an almost forest green color, then black and eventually a glowing red color.
The hanging basket pepper garden can solve space issues for the overflow of extra plants from the spring seeding trays; give new life to last year’s hanging basket tucked away in the garage, and offer opportunities for an extra crop. Other plants, including some useful herbs, such as parsley, cilantro or basil, can be planted on top for additional savings and beauty.
Jalapeno pepper plants are readily available at most garden centers. Seeds are common and jalapeno peppers are rather easy to start, though they can take a week to two weeks to emerge, like many pepper varieties.
Similar to most peppers, jalapeno seeds need to be kept warm and moist. Germination will occur more quickly if the seed tray or pot is covered with a lid, even a clear plastic bag will work.
Once the seedlings emerge, they need as much light as possible. They will thrive in warm temperatures with plenty of water, but not soggy, soaking wet conditions. Once several sets of leaves have developed, if the seeds were planted in a seed tray, they need to be transplanted to larger pots. The seedlings are very frost sensitive and should not be placed outside until the danger of frost has passed or protected inside a warm cold frame.
It is possible, at this initial transplant stag,e to plant the seedling in the bottom of a hanging basket. There are a few simple steps.
Most hanging baskets have simple plastic clamps holding the hook and wires used to hang the basket; remove the the clamps, along with the plastic wires and hook, and set aside.
Place the hanging basket upside down and simply cut or drill a larger hole, about three quarters of an inch, on the bottom where the seedling will be planted. On many hanging baskets, this can be done by simply cutting the plastic strips on the bottom hole with a sharp utility knife.
Fit a piece of wood or cut out cardboard over the top of the hanging basket so the dirt will remain in the hanging basket when it is flipped over so the plant can be planted in the smaller bottom hole.
Fill the basket with soil mixed with compost, place the cover over it and flip over. Plant the seedling and allow the jalapeno to remain growing in the upside down hanging basket for a week or two until the plant becomes well rooted and established. The plant should also be about four inches tall or at least large enough to begin it’s new upward journey. It should be in a warm sunny area and kept well watered.
Once the plant is established, the clamps can be put back on and the planter hung in a sunny area. Jalapeno peppers thrive in brilliant sunshine and enjoy about an inch of water every week
Peppers don’t generally need fertilizer but it is important to monitor the plant and give it a light feeding if necessary. Compost added to the hanging basket should be sufficient. It should be noted that too much nitrogen will make for a lush plant but a meager harvest. Jalapeno peppers do best in alkaline soil with a pH of 9.0.
Once the plant is hung in a sunny area, an additional small amount of aged compost can be added to the top of the hanging basket and other plants can be sown or planted. Some options would be some colorful leaf lettuces; marigolds or zinnias, both of which have a reputation for attracting good insects while discouraging insect pests are attractive choices.
The jalapeno plant can reach between 24 inches and 48 inches and makes for an attractive, unique display. The peppers will easily come off the plant when they are fully ripe. If brown lines appear on the pepper, it has finished growing and are at their hottest stage; the pepper should be harvested when the lines appear. Jalapeno peppers will continue to produce; once they have turned red is the stage for using the pepper for drying for future use.
Commercial upside down hanging jalapeno baskets can also be purchased at online sales Web sites and some garden centers, although tomatoes seem to have the greater publicity. Jalapeno peppers can also be successfully planted “right side up”.or planted in traditional containers.
An upside down jalapeno pepper hanging basket is unique, ornamental and makes for a money saving harvest; picking the crop is a lot easier than bending over. Weeding is minimal, insect pest noticeably missing, and damage from pets and wild animals, nearly non-existent.
The jalapeno pepper offers many possibilities both in the garden and in the kitchen. The jalapeno pepper is an attractive hanging plant and unique in the kitchen. The peppers can be used to make jelly, brewed into a tangy wine, used in a salsa or added as pizza topping for a little extra bang. For garden or the patio, the jalapeno hanging basket offers a different twist.