Hydroponic Peppers 101 – Your Complete Growing Guide

Trying their hand at growing hydroponic peppers is a favorite place to start for new hydroponic gardeners.

Peppers are a favorite vegetable at home and have a high demand through local markets. 

So, why not grow them hydroponically? Everyone knows that everything grown hydroponically tastes better… right!?

Can peppers be grown hydroponically? Peppers are one of the most commonly grown hydroponic crops because they’re easy to grow and available in a wide variety of types and flavors. A DWC system is ideal, but other setups can be used too. For best results, provide at least 12 hours of light and maintain 6.0-7.0 pH and an EC level of 2.0.

Read on below and learn everything you need to know about growing hydroponic peppers!

Varieties of Peppers Commonly Grown Hydroponically

Peppers are one of the most popular varieties of plants commonly grown hydroponically.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise then that there are more types of peppers to grow hydroponically than you can shake a stick at.

A few of the most popular varieties of peppers commonly grown hydroponically include: 

  • Anaheim
  • Bell
  • Brown
  • Black
  • Blue
  • Cayenne
  • Cubanelle
  • Habanero
  • Hybrids
  • Jalapeño
  • Pepperoncini
  • Pimiento
  • Poblano
  • Red
  • Scotch bonnet
  • Tabasco
  • Thai
  • White
  • Yellow

The above list is by no means complete as there are new types of pepper plants popping up each year.

Bell Pepper Varieties To Grow Hydroponically

The bell pepper is perhaps the most popular pepper of all to grow hydroponically. That said, there are numerous types of bell peppers to choose from:

  • Green
  • Orange
  • Yellow
  • Red
  • White
  • Brown
  • Purple

Green, red, orange, and yellow are the most common varieties of bell pepper to grow hydroponically.

White, brown, and purple are rarer but are also often grown with hydroponic systems.

There are numerous cultivars available as well. Some of the more popular include:

  • ‘California Wonder’
  • ‘Olympus’
  • ‘Ace’
  • ‘Yolo Wonder’
  • ‘Vidi’
  • ‘Valencia’
  • ‘Gourmet’
  • ‘Staddon’s Select’
  • ‘Sunbright’
  • ‘Purple Beauty’
  • ‘Horizon Orange’

A man adding a variety of bell peppers to a large blue tub.

Best Hydroponic System for Peppers

Deep water culture (DWC), ebb-and-flow, and wick systems are the best hydroponic systems for growing peppers.

Deep water culture systems are the easiest to grow peppers in, as well as the easiest to set up and maintain. You’ll find an in-depth explanation in our DWC article here.

Each type of system has its pros and cons, including space, power, and water requirements.

For example, with ebb-and-flow (explained here) and wick systems, you may fit in quite a few more plants and have only one reservoir to maintain, but the plants won’t grow as large as with a DWC setup.

How To Start Hydroponic Peppers

The first step to starting hydroponic peppers is planting your seeds.

This can be done in numerous ways: in rockwool or another inert growing medium, in soil, or in a seed-starting system of some sort.

These rockwool cubes come in a pack of 42 at a great price, and they are super easy to use.

Keep your seeds somewhere warm with plenty of light and moisture. The best temperature for germinating pepper seeds is roughly 70°F.

The plants are ready to transfer as soon as they have two separate sets of leaves sprouted.

Put them directly into the hydroponic system’s grow sites, and let the system work its magic.

Once planted in your hydroponic system, if growing indoors, the best distance between the lights and the top of the crops is 6 to 8 inches.

Adjust the lights accordingly, depending on the type, strength, and settings.

How Long Do Peppers Take To Grow Hydroponically?

The typical time frame for growing hydroponic peppers is about 60 to 80 days depending on the species that you are working with.

If you want to grow your peppers a bit faster than average, the best practice is to cut down the germination time. 

Reducing the 7-21 day germination period to no more than a week cuts two full weeks off the overall time frame.

This can be achieved by starting the seeds in a miniature greenhouse, hothouse, or seed-starting system.

Do Hydroponic Peppers Taste Good?

Hydroponic peppers are known for being bigger, tastier, and better smelling than peppers grown in the soil.

The fact of the matter is, why wouldn’t they taste better than other peppers? 

When grown hydroponically, the pepper plants are getting the ideal lights, water, nutrients, and everything else that they need to thrive (not just survive and produce an acceptable crop).

Can You Grow Hydroponic Peppers Indoors?

Hot chili peppers growing indoors ready to harvest.

As with most hydroponic crops, part of the beauty is that it can indeed be done indoors.

The difference between growing hydroponic peppers indoors versus outdoors is that lights and ventilation are involved.

Indoor hydroponics are often preferred by home gardeners for growing peppers rather than outside because indoors you have complete control over the environment.

Outside, you’re always combating the weather.

Another consideration about growing hydroponic peppers is whether or not you’ll be wanting or needing a grow tent.

A grow tent allows you to control the environment even more than simply growing indoors inside of a room.

Hydroponic Peppers pH

Peppers are a relatively easy hydroponic crop as far as pH levels go.

They prefer a pH level of 6.0 to 7.0, though they may tolerate pH levels of 5.5 or slightly lower depending on the species.

It is also important to note that hydroponic peppers require a somewhat high EC level of 2.0 (or even higher in some cases).

If the EC of your peppers isn’t high enough, the pH level may be right where it needs to be, but the plants won’t be able to uptake the much-needed nutrients.

It is best practice to keep an eye on the pH and EC levels of your hydroponic peppers on a daily basis. Keeping a notebook with the readings is also a good idea.

You’ll find a complete guide for adjusting and maintaining these levels in our article here.

How Many Hours of Light Do Hydroponic Peppers Need?

Hydroponic peppers require a full day’s worth of sun if growing outdoors. Indoors, hydroponic peppers require anywhere from 12 to 18 hours of light.

The number of hours per day depends on the variety of peppers as well as the type of power of the lights.

In most cases, the lights should be placed anywhere from 6 to 8 inches from the top of the pepper plants.

With some species and types of lights, 12 inches may be more adequate.

At any rate, remember to move the lights up as the plants continue to grow so that the distance is always optimal for producing new growth.

What Hydroponic Nutrients Should I Use for Peppers?

Most peppers do well with an 8-8-8 type liquid nutrient solution.

That’s because peppers do best with plenty of nitrogen for promoting growth, potassium to fight disease, and phosphorus to help use and store more energy. 

In addition to macronutrients, peppers also need some micronutrients like magnesium, iron, and calcium, the ingredients found in the popular Cal-Mag supplements, like this one

Discover the benefits of using Cal-Mag here.

Make sure that any hydroponic nutrients that you purchase contain a balance of macronutrients and micronutrients.

Don’t miss out on our complete guide to hydroponic nutrients for a comprehensive understanding of what is required for plants to thrive.

Hydroponic Pepper Nutrients

The macronutrients and micronutrients that hydroponic peppers need to thrive include:

  • Ammonium (NH4)
  • Boron (B)
  • Calcium (Ca)
  • Chloride (Cl)
  • Copper (Cu)
  • Iron (Fe)
  • Magnesium (Mg)
  • Manganese (Mn)
  • Molybdenum (Mo)
  • Nitrate (NO3)
  • Potassium (K)
  • Phosphate (PO4)
  • Sulfates (SO4)
  • Sodium (Na)
  • Zinc (Zn)

When you go to purchase liquid nutrients for your plants, double-check the ingredients with the above list to ensure that it includes everything your peppers need.

Do You Need To Wash Hydroponic Peppers?

Hydroponic peppers need to be washed off just like any other crops do, but being hydroponically grown has no impact on needing to be washed off.

All plants should be washed off before being cooked, eaten, or stored.

Hydroponic peppers don’t contain any harmful contaminants on their fruits anymore than those grown in soil do.

If there is a contaminant present, it is probably one that you yourself placed there (foliage spray or pesticide, perhaps).

Hydroponic Bell Pepper Yield Per Plant

The average yield of a hydroponic bell pepper is approximately 50 to 100 pounds.

Compared to soil-grown bell peppers, which struggle to produce more than 5 pounds, the difference is staggeringly high.

How Long Do Hydroponic Pepper Plants Live?

Several bell peppers growing on healthy plants in an aquaponic greenhouse.

Pepper plants can live for as much as 3 or more years, depending on the species.

That said, the average pepper plant lives for much less time because they are so easy to replace with fresh seedlings.

Common Hydroponic Pepper Problems

A few of the most significant problems that you may encounter while growing hydroponic peppers are:

Pests

A few of the most common insects that may find their way onto your hydroponic peppers are aphids, spider mites, whiteflies, and fungus gnats.

All things considered, spider mites are the worst.

Solution

The best way to fight pests is to use preventive measures, such as organic pest control methods or spraying pesticides.

Poor Lighting

Sunlight is always the best light for plants.

If you are growing indoors and everything is set up and well maintained but your pepper plants just never seem to do well, rest assured your lights are the issue.

Solution

For growing hydroponic peppers, you need to invest in proper indoor grow lights like LEDs or powerful fluorescents. 

Do a bit of research based on the size and type of system you’re running (or will be) and make sure to use lights that are powerful enough.

Failure To Monitor Your Plants

Once your system is running and your pepper plants are thriving, you’ll still need to keep monitoring things.

In fact, when everything is going well, you need to monitor more in order to make sure that things continue proceeding smoothly.

Solution

Make a daily schedule for checking the pH, EC, water temperature, and general status of both your hydroponic system and your plants.

Set an alarm on your phone if you need to be reminded, and use quality testing devices, like this one that checks pH, TDS, and EC instantly and accurately.

Improper Upkeep of Your Hydroponic System

Likewise to monitoring your system, you also need to keep it up properly. 

Solution

Every 2-3 weeks you need to break down some parts of your system, clean them, and then put them back in place. 

The water in the main reservoir also needs to be changed out with fresh water and liquid nutrients. Cleaning out pumps, filters, and grow sites is also advised.

Peppers are easier than many other crops, but they are not foolproof. Learn about 26 common problems and how to solve them in this article.

Tips for Growing Hydroponic Peppers

Bell pepper plant with several peppers in various stages of ripening.

Here are a few great tips for growing hydroponic peppers:

Place 1 Plant Every 12 Inches

The recommended spacing for hydroponic peppers varies depending on who you ask.

Some gardeners place them 6 to 8 inches apart, while others space them up to 24 inches apart. 

We recommend spacing hydroponic pepper plants by 12 inches. That way they have enough room to spread out and develop enough branches to produce a higher yield.

Use a Timer on the Lights

It may seem like a no-brainer if you’re already using one, but if not, you should definitely consider the benefits of using a timer on your hydroponic pepper’s lighting system. 

Having an irregular lighting schedule is a sure way to stress a plant out, slow down growth, and possibly sabotage your entire crop.

Monitor EC, pH, and PPM Daily

Checking the levels of your hydroponic reservoir daily is one of the most crucial steps you can take to ensure a successful crop of hydroponic peppers.

The pH and PPM reading allows you to understand exactly how much nutrients and other solvents are present in the water and available to the plants.

We fully explain PPM, or TDS readings, here.

The EC level is equally important, as it dictates whether or not the pepper plants will be able to suck up enough nutrients through the water or not due to the electric conductivity of the water.

Make sure your system’s EC level is as close to 2.0 while growing peppers.

Replace Water and Nutrients Every 14 Days

Not only is it critical to monitor your hydroponic peppers’ water readings, but you’ll also need to replace the water altogether every two weeks on the dot. 

Some gardeners wait an extra week, opting to add a bit of fresh water and nutrients to the top of the reservoir, but we suggest biting the bullet and changing it out every 14 days like clockwork.

When you change the water, make sure to rebalance the pH and EC so that your pepper plants continue receiving the optimal conditions to grow and thrive.

A Final Word About Growing Hydroponic Peppers

Hydroponic peppers are an ideal crop for beginners and veteran home hydroponic gardeners alike.

They are a low-maintenance crop, produce large yields, and have a high demand on local markets.

All you need to get started is a handful of pepper seeds (or starter plants), a hydroponic system of your choosing, and a handful of other minor supplies (as mentioned above).

As you progress with your hydroponic peppers, please feel free to refer back to this growing guide as often as necessary. Good luck!