Poblano peppers are often overlooked by pepper heads because of their lack of spice.
But for those that prefer a bit less heat, poblano is amazing!
This pepper is very easy to grow and perfect for beginners. It needs very little care once you get it started in your garden.
Ready to add some kick to your mouth?
Poblano can do it!
Dried, powdered, or freshly sliced. This capsicum can all of it.
Let’s learn about how to grow and care for poblano.
Quick care guide: Poblano peppers
|Plant type||Perennial (zones 9-12), annual (lower zones)|
|Scientific name||Capsicum annuum
|Other names||Green pepper, chili ancho, pasilla (mistakenly)|
|Soil type||Fertile, loamy, well-draining, potting mix|
|Soil pH||6.0-6.8 (acidic)|
|Sunlight requirement||Full sun, 6 hours daily|
|Colors||Green, yellow, white, lime, red|
|Max height||5 feet|
|Max width||1-2 feet|
|Low temperature tolerance||60F|
|High temperature tolerance||90F|
|Ideal temperature range||75-85F|
|Humidity||Moderate (40% or higher)|
|Watering requirements||1-2 inches per week, but adjust as necessary for weather|
|Fertilizer requirements||Liquid fertilizer during spring and summer as needed|
|Plant food NPK||5-10-10|
|Days until germination||1-2 weeks from seed|
|Days until harvest||60-200 days|
|Bloom time||Spring to summer|
|Speed of growth||Moderate|
|Hardiness zones||9, 10, 11, 12|
|Plant depth||0.25 inch deep from seed, same depth as seedling if transplanting it|
|Plant spacing||12 inches per plant, 24 inches between rows|
|Plant with||Cucumbers, fennel, radishes, squash, carrots, spring onions, garlic, lettuce, chard, basil, beets, brussels sprouts, chives, eggplant, green beans, alyssum, okra, tomatoes, dill, and petunias.|
|Don't plant with||Cabbage, cauliflower, or broccoli.|
|Common pests||Aphids, cutworms, hornworms, spittlebugs, whiteflies, leaf miners, weevils, and beetles.|
|Common diseases||Blossom end rot, blight, root rot, damping-off, leaf spot, or mosaic virus.|
|Grown in container||Yes|
|Care level||Low (very easy for beginners)|
|Best uses||Culinary, spices, Mexican cuisines|
Poblano peppers are harvested from the poblano plant (Capsicum annum). They’re a bit like jalapenos, but don’t have the same level of kick.
Poblano peppers are less spicy compared to their spicier cousins, so they’re perfect for those who can only tolerate a bit of heat.
They’re also good for dishes that could use a bit of spice, but not too much to the point where it’ll ruin the taste.
Poblano is also easy to grow and you can pick it as needed right from your garden. If you’re situated somewhere warm with hot summers, these peppers are a good option to grow.
You can even grow them organically so you don’t have to shell out your hard-earned cash at the market each time. A single poblano plant gives rise to dozens of peppers when carefully grown.
You harvest it unripe when it’s dark green or can be left in the garden until they ripen, then hung to dry. They can be used in ground pepper, or directly for your culinary purposes.
They can be dried out whole then put into water.
You can even just pick them and cut them into those little poblano rings then garnish with them. Let me show you how!
Are poblanos spicy?
Compared to jalapenos, poblano peppers are about a quarter to half the spice.
Scoville Heat Units (SHU) are used to measure capsaicin in peppers, which is the compound that makes it spicy to humans.
Some animals, such as birds, don’t taste the spice! This is why you may find them munching on your pepper plants without burning up.
Here are some SCH ratings so you get an idea of how spicy poblano peppers are compared to their close companions:
- Anaheim pepper 500 SHU
- Poblano 1000 SHU
- Guajillo 2500 SHU
- Jalapeno 3000 SHU
- Serrano 16000 SHU
- Cayenne 30000 SHU
- Thai Chili 60000 SHU
- Habanero 300000 SHU
Poblano is barely spicy, which makes it versatile to add to recipes that call for some heat, but not too much of it.
Types of poblano peppers
There are two main types of poblano peppers- red and green. The two colors are strikingly different but can be produced by the same plant.
The red is hotter than the green, but overall they’re both pretty tame in heat. Some poblano plants can produce hotter peppers than others, depending on how it was grown.
It’s up to you to do some reading and find out what grows well in your zone. Start with that, then choose by features of each plant type.
How does it compare to jalapeno peppers?
Poblanos don’t have as much heat as jalapenos. They’re about ⅓ of the heat.
So if you can’t tolerate jalapenos, poblanos may be a good alternative to the spicy chilies.
Why would I grow them?
You would grow poblano because you like it a little spicy, but not set your mouth on fire.
These peppers grow well in warmer regions and they don’t need a lot of maintenance once you get them situated. These pepper plants aren’t huge.
They’re quite compact because they only reach about 24 inches in height with a small width. So they don’t take up much space.
Poblano will require temperatures of at least 60F to germinate properly. Each fruit can grow up to 5-6″ long and 2-3″ wide.
The branches are shrubby and they’re densely packed together.
You can get quite a bit of pepper harvest in a small plant. Up to 40 per season with 8 at any given time during the peak.
Once it starts becoming established, the branches will offshoot and then produce those pretty white flowers and dark green poblano peppers!
How to propagate poblano peppers
You can start from seed or buy pre-grown ones from the nursery then move them into your garden.
If you want a head start, buy directly from the garden center. This is preferable if you’re in a location that has early winters or cooler temperatures.
Sow 8 weeks before the last spring frost in your zone. If you don’t know when it is, you can look it up online.
Start seeds indoors using a starter tray. Sow seeds 0.25” deep, 2-3 seeds each compartment. Use well-draining, loamy soil.
A high-quality potting mix will do well for increasing successful germination. Ambient temperature should be at least 60F for germination to happen, but higher ambient temperatures are preferred.
Keep the soil moist, but not wet. Use a humidity dome to keep the moisture content high for germination success
Use dappled sunlight or a grow light when the seeds haven’t germinated yet, but afterward, use a bright light source such as a sunny window
Remove humidity domes after germination. Upon successful propagation, poblano seeds will germinate within 1-2 weeks depending on cultivar and temperature.
Follow directions on the packaging of the seeds. They’ll give you specific instructions to get your seeds to germinate.
Use recently packed seeds to increase the odds of success. If temperatures drop, use a heat matt or supplement with artificial plant lighting to raise temperatures for the seedlings.
Seedlings can be purchased from your local nursery or garden center, then put into your garden outdoors.
Ensure that the soil you use is moist, well-draining, and loamy. Local ambient temperatures should be at least 60F or higher.
Poblano plants don’t tolerate the cold, especially if they were raised somewhere with warmer temperatures.
The seedlings should have at least 2 sets of leaves before you move them into your garden. Additionally, when they’re ready to be planted, acclimate them by exposing them to your outside garden for a few hours each day over a week.
This will harden them off so they can adapt to it. If you just put them out, they can be killed by the outdoors. Seedlings are weak until established.
When to transplant
The soil should be warm with at least 60F local temperature. Get a spade and dig a small hole about 2-3” deep and wide enough to snugly fit the seedling.
The root ball should be easily slid into it without brushing against the dirt. Lift the seedling from its original container and plant it.
For extensive farming, plant in rows for efficient use of space. Space each plant 12” apart in rows 24” apart.
Poblano likes to stretch out its roots so give it plenty of space to grow. Providing ample space eliminates water pooling which can lead to rot or nutrient competition.
If container planting, put one plant per container with at least 5 gallons of space. Use a high-quality organic potting mix if possible.
Keep the seedlings monitored for pests or rot. The leaves may turn yellow or brown but should regrow with bright green foliage later on.
How to care for poblano
Here are some general guidelines for maximizing the most out of your poblano peppers.
Depending on the cultivar you’re growing, your location, and your local growing conditions, your care needs may vary.
But this can still provide you with some basic practices that can help you optimize your pepper’s taste in general- no matter which cultivar you’re planting.
Poblano can be grown in USDA hardiness zones 9-12 as a perennial. It’s a warm climate plant that does well in zones with hot summers.
But even if you’re in a cooler climate, it’s OK. It can be grown as an annual but doesn’t do too well if it’s too cold. It grows throughout the springtime until summer when it’ll reach its peak where it’ll sprout its flowers.
Then it’ll fruit those gorgeous little dark green peppers you’ve been waiting for. It’s even possible to grow them indoors or in containers if you want to, though you may optimize your yield.
These peppers get their maximum size and flavor when planted outside in the sun.
If you want that elongated, full dark green pepper with those pointed tips, then yeah, you should grow them outdoors where they should be.
Use a well-draining, high-quality potting mix if growing in containers.
For garden sowing, nutrient-dense soil mixed with some organic compost is beneficial for feeding your poblano throughout the summer.
Put some sand to help improve drainage, which can help stop the dirt from clumping over time.
Soil pH value
Poblano plants prefer soil that’s slightly acidic to neutral.
While the soil pH won’t make or break your pepper plants, lowering the pH slightly can enhance the texture, flavor, and yield of your peppers.
Supplement with organic pH amendments since you’ll be eating it. Aim for a pH value between 6.0-6.8.
Some resources state that they prefer alkaline soils with a pH up to 8.5. However, most chili plants will thrive in acidic soil.
Plant each seed o.25 inches deep. If you bought one from a nursery, plant it the same depth as the original pot.
Space each poblano plant at least 12 inches apart. These plants have extensive root systems that they’ll stretch out.
If grown too compactly, you risk root rot or poor evaporation. If the container is growing, only put one per 5-gallon pot at max.
Do not overload containers or even raised beds. Growing too many of them close together will encourage competition, smaller crops, and poor flavor.
Poblano peppers can’t tolerate the cold. They need a constant temperature above 60F at least. The ideal temperature range is 75-90F throughout the growing season.
The colder the temperature is, the slower the plant will fruit. Poblano peppers are sensitive to temperature. They require a warmer growing season to fruit.
If your hardiness zone experiences random temperature dips, you need to be prepared to take action.
You can temperature shelter the pepper plants from dips in temp by using row covers, mini-greenhouse, or relocating them if grown in pots.
The same is true for extremely hot days. You’ll need to provide some shade to your poblano if the temps creep above 95F. Use umbrellas or artificial shade to block some sunlight or they’ll turn crispy.
Pepper plants like moderate humidity. Too much may result in rot, but too little will result in crispy leaves.
When the soil goes dry, the humidity will drop significantly. Let it barely go dry between waterings.
Water deeply and thoroughly. Don’t water the leaves. Only point your watering can at the base of the plant. If the leaves get wet, it can lead to rot or fungal issues.
Water deeply during the hot summers with the water penetrating the soil at least 3 inches deep.
Use your finger to check the top 2-3 inches of soil. Water when it’s nearly dry, but don’t let the soil completely dry out. Pepper plants prefer to be nearly bone dry when they’re in the growing season.
Use a water moisture meter to test for soil water levels. Be careful not to overwater. Some dryness is good for poblano peppers just like jalapeno.
Drip irrigation is perfect for poblano plants. It’s efficient, cheap, and easy to set up.
Tip: Use organic mulch to help keep moisture in the soil. It reduces the need to water, suppresses weeds, and insulates the temperatures.
Use bark, hay, straw, leaf litter, or newspapers. Put a 1-3 inch layer on the soil surface right at the base of the plant stem to mulch.
Fertilizing your poblano with all-purpose, organic plant food. Liquid feed works well, but dilute to half dose first. Topdressing with aged compost can also provide nutrients poblano plants crave. Look for NPK of 5-10-10.
Poblano peppers don’t need pruning other than removing damaged foliage. Leaves that are burnt, wilted, or yellowing/browning should be removed.
Spent flowers or peppers that are distorted should also be removed. Note that upon harvest, the plant will get skinny. But it should regrow when the temperatures warm up.
Poblano may look small or weak during the colder periods, but this is normal and doesn’t call for pruning.
Poblano peppers are super easy to care for. There’s not much you need to do once you get it going.
The important things are to keep the temperatures stable, water on a schedule, and fertilize twice a month. Monitor for peppers and watch them to make sure no bugs are chewing them.
Prune damaged foliage or spent flowers. Harvest on time.
It’s all the basics you already know about. Poblano peppers are nothing new. That’s why they’re one of the perfect peppers for beginners to grow.
Poblano peppers don’t bolt, so this is nothing to worry about.
Hot peppers grown in zones 9 or higher will do fine outside. They can be grown as perennials.
For those with cold seasons that dip below the 60s, you can either grow it as an annual or container plant it so you can relocate it when it gets cold.
Either way, there are some basic things you can do to insulate the roots from cold such as row covers, artificial plant heaters, or green housing.
This is important for those cold dips because poblano plants just don’t like the cold. So keep them out of it!
For those in cooler climates, consider planting your poblano in pots. This allows you to bring it inside your home or garage if temperatures drop. Then set it back outside in the springtime.
Growing in pots
Poblano pepper can be grown in pots. Use at least a 5-gallon pot for each plant.
Only plant one plant per container, unless you’re using a raised bed where you grow in rows.
Potted plants will need frequent watering compared to garden sown peppers. Monitor water levels carefully.
Ensure you use a high-quality potting mix that’s well-draining. Feed with fertilizer during peak season so it gets the nutrients for proper fruiting.
If you do manage to grow it indoors, poblano will self pollinate even with just a single plant.
However, indoor grown peppers generally have poorer taste/texture compared to outdoor grown plants.
If you’re in a zone that doesn’t allow for poblano to grow well outdoors, growing indoors using a strong grow light can be your substitute.
You’ll need to replace everything though with artificial lighting, heating, and humidity. This is costly and won’t be easy to do.
These peppers are ready to go after 60-70 days from successfully generating. The peppers will look wrinkly, but that’s OK. Look for stems that are slightly curled.
For drying peppers (known as ancho peppers), let them turn red before you pick them. If you leave them on the stem, they’ll turn red over time. This takes about 2 weeks.
Pick them off then cut each one with a stem attached. Hang them by the stem. Let them dry out in the sun until they get thin and brittle.
They’re ready to go when the water has completely evaporated inside the fruit itself.
Peppers can be blended to make a powder.
To pick them off, gently cut each pepper from the stem. Do NOT pull or else you’ll break the branch.
Poblano peppers are self-pollinating. Therefore, they don’t need to be planted near each other or in groups to fertilize.
You don’t need two individual plants to produce fruit. Single poblano plants will fruit if conditions are good.
However, you can plant small batches of poblanos next to each other since they require the same rearing conditions. Just space them correctly so they don’t compete for nutrients.
Freshly harvested poblano peppers can be stored in the crisper drawer for up to 10 days. Use immediately for ideal flavor/texture. Pick as you need.
Peppers can also be dried by leaving them out in the sun to ripen them, then placed into mason jars.
Poblano peppers can be planted with cucumbers, fennel, radishes, squash, carrots, spring onions, garlic, lettuce, chard, basil, beets, brussels sprouts, chives, eggplant, green beans, alyssum, okra, tomatoes, dill, and petunias.
These are all excellent companion plants for poblano peppers and will grow in harmony with it.
Be sure to rotate your crops regularly to replenish soil nutrients that were lost or persistent pests.
If you want the largest yield possible, you should plant poblano plants by themselves.
Don’t plant with
Avoid planting poblano peppers with cabbage, cauliflower, or broccoli.
Other members of the brassica genus should be avoided because they’ll compete for nutrients.
Only plants with non-competing plants or other poblanos, but spaced appropriately so they get their share of nutrients.
Practice crop rotation to help keep nutrients balanced in the soil column.
Poblano plants are vulnerable to aphids, cutworms, hornworms, spittlebugs, whiteflies, leaf miners, weevils, and beetles.
Because of the large fruit, it brings in all sorts of pests.
Thankfully, you can control most of them with basic sprays or oils. Use organic pesticides if possible since you’ll be eating the fruit.
Some DIY remedies like dish soap, vinegar, or essential oils may work. Insecticidal soap for vegetables is available (see Amazon), which can be a quick solution if you don’t have the time or energy.
Poblano plants can get some pathogens that plague peppers. This can result from overwatering or failure to rotate crops.
Use soil that drains well, adequate spacing, plenty of sunlight, watering the right amount, and harvesting on time.
This will help reduce the various plant pathogens that may eat your crop.
Poblano peppers are susceptible to blossom end rot, blight, root rot, damping-off, leaf spot, or mosaic virus.
Doing basic practices such as crop rotation and not overwatering is generally enough to prevent most of these.
That’s why it’s important to set the foundation for peppers right.
Poblano peppers are versatile in many ways.
They can be used in almost everything! Here are some ideas:
- Stuffed cornbread with roasted poblano
- Chicken stuffed poblano peppers
- Rajas con crema
- Poblano pepper strips
- Poblano bakes
- Southwest stuffed poblano peppers
- Chiles en nogada
- Roasted peppers
- Whipped egg
Search online and you’ll see tons of recipes that utilize poblano.
It can be substituted for jalapeno if you don’t like too much spice. Otherwise, grind it up into a powder for some extra kick.
Common questions about poblano pepper care
This section covers commonly asked questions by readers.
You may get some value out of reading it, especially if you’re new to growing peppers in general.
How many peppers does a poblano plant produce?
A single poblano plant can produce up to 40 chilies per season at the high end.
On average, you can expect a total of 20-30 chilies per season.
Each plant can produce anywhere between 2-8 chilies at a given time.
So your yield will vary depending on your hardiness zone, growing period, and general care.
Plant multiple plants if you need a lot of peppers.
Do poblano peppers need a cage?
Poblano peppers are heavier than other peppers, which may make the plant droop or lean if it doesn’t have proper plant support.
If you notice the plant starting to lean over, you can add plant support. Use a tomato or pepper cage and wrap the stems with twine to secure them.
You can also use other types of supports like regular stakes or adjustable plant cages. Follow this video for a demonstration of how to stake pepper plants:
Are coffee grounds good for pepper plants?
Coffee grounds are excellent for pepper plants.
They provide nutrients plus act as a mulching agent to help retain moisture. Don’t toss out those grounds when your poblano will eat them up!
How often should I water poblano?
Water every 2-3 days. Aim for 1” of water per week. Adjust when it’s hot or cold.
It’s pretty much common sense.
Use a moisture meter for precision if you’re not sure about the soil saturation. The moisture should never dry out, but it shouldn’t turn muddy.
Water early in the day so it has water during peak hours. Water at the base, not the leaves.
How do you know when poblano peppers are ready to pick?
Poblano peppers can be picked as soon as they turn dark green. They look just like bell peppers. You can gauge it by its size.
Peppers can be picked when they are just about the size of your fist.
They’re ripe for picking when they turn red, but are often eaten when just dark green if you don’t harvest them, they’ll turn red. Pick at 5” for ideal taste.
Are poblano peppers perennial?
Poblano peppers are perennials when grown in zones 9 or higher. This will provide them the warmth they require outdoors, so they can be regrown every season.
The winters must be mild for them to overwinter, otherwise, they need to be sheltered. For cold zones, poblanos are grown annually.
So it depends on your zone, whether you’re growing them in containers (since they can be moved inside), or the type of protection you’re willing to provide.
Can pepper plants get too much sun?
Pepper plants can suffer from the excess sun just like any other plant. Just because they like the sun doesn’t mean they can tolerate lots of it.
Hardened pepper plants can get too much sun during the hottest days of summer. This can make them burnt, crispy, or dry.
How do you encourage peppers to grow?
Encourage growth by providing high-quality soil! That’s the key to 99% of proper growth. Use well-draining, acidic soil. Feed twice per month with plant food during the growing season.
Ensure that they get ample sunlight with warm temperatures. Water on a schedule. Prune lightly. There’s no secret to it. If you want big yields, you need to put in the work.
Will a single pepper plant produce fruit?
Poblano is self-pollinating, so you don’t need two plants to fruit. You just need one plant that’s well cared for to create those gorgeous dark green peppers.
Why are my poblano peppers so small?
This may be due to lack of sunlight, cold weather, or poor soil conditions. If you’re growing in pots, it’s to be expected.
Pest activity or plant pathogens can inhibit size. Compact growing will also encourage peppers to compete for nutrients, so they all turn out smaller.
Check out these references for additional information:
Enjoy your poblano pepper plants!
Now that you know everything you need to know about growing and caring for poblano peppers, there’s no reason not to start your little pepper bush!
From California to Texas to Florida (or even the UK), you can get some decent peppers going in your garden.
Poblano is super easy to care for, requires little maintenance, and provides bountiful harvests of those gorgeous green, not too hot peppers.
Put them in your favorite dishes for some light heat without the fire!
Do you have any questions about poblano care? Or do you have a specific situation with your peppers? Post your comments using the section below and let me know.
If you’ve grown poblano before, please share your tips with fellow readers by doing the same!
I’ve always been interested in gardening, but I never took it seriously until I was forcefully gifted an orchid. This was what got me into the hobby and I’ve never looked back. I enjoy writing about it, but not nearly as much as getting into the dirt and sculpting the perfect decorative ornamental to enjoy for the times.