How To Keep Pepper Plants From Falling Over


It can be frustrating to see your pepper plants falling over after carefully growing them from seed.  Sometimes, pepper plants are a victim of their own success, when too much fruit causes them to fall over.  In these cases, you can take some simple steps to save them.

So, how do you keep pepper plants from falling over?  To keep your pepper plants from falling over, support them by tying them to stakes, cages, trellises, or ropes.  That way, your plants can climb the supports instead of crawling along the ground, where they are more susceptible to disease.

Of course, there could be other reasons that your pepper plants are falling over.  You should also take steps to protect your pepper plants from severe wind, over watering, and diseases.

Let’s start off by taking a closer look at how to support pepper plants, and then we’ll get into other ways to prevent plants from falling over.

How To Support Pepper Plants

If your pepper plants are falling over, but look healthy otherwise, there may be nothing wrong with them other than their own weight.  Pepper plants that become too successful may grow more fruit than their stems and branches can support.

chili pepper plant
Pepper plants that become too successful may fall over under the weight of their own fruit!

However, this can change quickly after plants fall over.  When grow along the ground, their leaves and fruit are exposed to a higher risk of disease from the soil.

It’s a good idea to support pepper plants to avoid diseases, so here are some ways you can do just that.

Use Stakes To Support Pepper Plants

Stakes are a common way to support both pepper and tomato plants.  You can use stakes made of bamboo or wood (not pressure-treated wood!), metal, or plastic.

Most pepper plants will achieve a height of 3 feet at most, so your stakes don’t need to be too much taller than that.  A four-foot stake is a good guideline – that gives you one foot below ground and three feet above ground.

tomato stakes
Tie your pepper plants at intervals to secure them. Tomato plants are pictured here, but the idea is the same!

Of course, you can opt for taller stakes, which gives you the option to use them as support for taller plants, like tomatoes.  This also lets you drive the stakes deeper into the ground, making it less likely that they will fall over under the weight of a very successful pepper plant!

When staking your pepper plants, it is best to do it early, rather than in the middle of the season.  If you drive your stakes into the ground too close to an established plant, you may damage the roots.

To ensure that your peppers have adequate support, use twine to tie the plant to the stake at intervals as it grows.  Leave them a little loose – you don’t want to “strangle” your plants or prevent them from growing.

For more information on twine and its uses, check out my article on the types of twine and how to use them.

If you practice crop rotation in your garden (which you should!), you will need to pull up the pepper stakes and move them for the next growing season.

Use Cages To Support Pepper Plants

Cages are another way to support pepper plants, but there is a trade-off.  Cages don’t require you to tie the plants (unless you want to).  This saves you time during the growing season.

You can make cages out of chicken wire, or buy them from a garden supply store.

However, cages can make it more difficult to get at your plants to water, fertilize, pull weeds, and harvest peppers.

Cages can be made out of metal, plastic, or wood, although metal is probably the most common material.  You can buy cages or make your own if you wish.

For more information, check out my article on why to use tomato cages.

Use Trellises To Support Pepper Plants

A trellis is another method you can use to support pepper plants, but it might be a bit of overkill, since pepper plants don’t usually get very tall.

wood trellis
A trellis may be overkill for peppers, which tend to be short, but it can make for a nice garden feature.

Still, a trellis can add an interesting feature to your garden if you want attractive decoration in addition to fresh produce. For more information, check out my article on how tall a trellis should be.

Use Ropes To Support Pepper Plants

This method is useful if you are growing lot of pepper plants in a long row.  First, you will need to put support posts at both ends of a row of peppers.

Next, run a length of rope horizontally from one support post to the other, and tie it off.  Then, tie shorter lengths of rope to the horizontal rope and let them hang down over your pepper plants.

Finally, drive short stakes (1-foot long or so) into the soil, and tie the ropes to them.  You can drill a hole in the stakes, or drive a nail into them, to give you something to tie the rope to.

rope support for pepper plants
You can use a rope system, like the one shown here, to support your pepper plants.

Now you can wrap the vertical ropes around your pepper plants as you go – no need for twine!  This takes a little more work up-front to setup, but it saves you time during the season.

However, it is not as easy to move this setup if you want to practice crop rotation.

Use A-Frames To Support Pepper Plants

You can also build a custom A-frame out of wood, metal, or plastic and allow your pepper plants to crawl up along a sloping wall.

An advantage of this method is that you can have plants growing up on both sides of the A-frame.

How To Protect Pepper Plants From Wind

After your pepper plants are properly supported, they will have some protection from the wind.  However, there are other ways to provide even more protection if you live in a windy area or if you are concerned about summer storms.

Build A Windbreak

One way to protect your pepper plants from wind and keep them from falling over is to build a windbreak.   A windbreak is one or more rows of plants designed to reduce wind in an area.

hedge
A hedgerow acts as a great windbreak, protecting your peppers and other plants from harsh wind.

You can plant rows of shrubs or trees along one or more sides of your garden to provide a windbreak.

Build A Wall

You can also build a wall along one or more sides of your garden to provide wind protection.  One option is to build your wall out of large stones on your property.  Another option is to use straw bales to build a temporary wall, and then compost the straw at the end of the season.

straw bale
You can make a wall out of straw bales to block wind!

You could even grow some crops, such as potatoes, inside of the straw bales, so that they double as a wind barrier and a growing medium.  For more information, check out my article on how to grow potatoes in straw bales.

Use A Greenhouse

You can also plant your peppers inside a greenhouse to protect them from the wind.  This is a good option since peppers don’t get too tall, so they won’t outgrow the greenhouse.

greenhouse
A greenhouse is a great way to protect pepper plants from wind and cold temperatures.

As an added bonus, a greenhouse will also help to protect peppers against other common problems, such pests and late spring or early fall frosts.

For more information, check out my article on how to protect your plants from wind and storms.

How To Avoid Over Watering Pepper Plants

Once your pepper plants are supported and protected from wind, you will want to make sure you are not over watering them.  Over watering is probably one of the leading causes of wilting, falling, or dying plants, especially among novice gardeners.

A big reason for this is that over watered plants may actually look under watered.  The reason is that over watering causes a plant’s roots to sit in soggy soil, which eventually leads to root rot.

Once root rot is severe enough, a plant will not be able to absorb water through its roots, even if there is enough (or too much) in the soil.  If you keep adding water at this point, the plant’s fate is sealed!

To avoid this fate for your plants, always check the soil before watering.  Use your fingers to feel into the soil to a depth of a few inches or more.

If the soil feels dry, you can water.  Otherwise, leave the plant alone!  Don’t think you can use a schedule or “rule of thumb”, since the amount of water a plant will need depends on temperature, humidity, sunlight, wind, soil type, plant type, plant size, and time of season.

For more information, check out my article on over watering your plants.

cracked clay soil
Clay soil drains poorly, which can increase the risk of root rot for your plants.

If your soil drains poorly, your plants are at even more risk of being over watered.  One good way to improve soil drainage is to add compost to your garden, which provides organic material to your soil.  For more information, check out my article on how to improve soil drainage.

Other Ways To Keep Your Pepper Plants Healthy

Remember that a pepper plant prefers a soil pH between 6.0 and 6.8 (slightly acidic to neutral).  If you aren’t sure, do a soil test to find out the pH and nutrient levels in your soil.  For more information, check out my article on how to do a soil test.

Make sure to use crop rotation on a two, three, or four-year cycle to discourage plant diseases and prevent nutrient deficiencies in your soil.

If mature, fruit-bearing plants are falling over but look healthy otherwise, then consider harvesting some peppers early.  You can always feed them to chickens or compost them, and it may prevent an overproducing plant from falling over.

Conclusion

By now, you have a good idea of how to get started with supporting your pepper plants.  All that’s left to do is to get out there and do the work!

I hope you found this article helpful – if so, please share it with someone who can use the information.  If you have any questions or advice of your own about preventing pepper plants from falling over, please leave a comment below.

jonathon.david.madore

Hi, I'm Jonathon. I’m the gardening guy (not guru!) who is encouraging everyone to spend more time in the garden. I try to help solve common gardening problems so that you can get the best harvest every year!

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