Out of all the vegetables that you might grow, peppers probably have the most variety. You have sweet peppers, bell peppers, chili peppers, and more.
And while they all have different flavors, they do have one thing in common: they need a lot of sun to grow. So, just how much sun do peppers need to grow big and ripe?
Peppers need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily to grow, and depending on the cultivar and other conditions they might need as many as 10 or more. If you live in an area with long summer days and intense sunlight, your peppers will likely be fine with six hours.
Peppers are greatly beloved for their culinary uses and interesting variations, but they have a reputation as a fussy vegetable, one requiring ideal lighting and other conditions to grow.
You’ll need to step your game up if you want a good harvest, whatever type you have planted.
Do Peppers Need Full Sun?
Yes, generally. Peppers are finicky plants. Just when you think you have their ideal growing conditions figured out, they throw you a curveball.
For example, many gardeners believe that peppers are one of the few vegetables that can tolerate partial shade… but this is sadly not true most of the time. All pepper species need at least six hours of full sunlight daily.
If you live in an area with hot summers, placing your pepper plants in a spot that gets some relief from the afternoon sun can actually cause more harm than it helps.
So if your pepper plants are looking a little sad, try getting them more sun and see if it makes a difference.
How Many Hours of Sun Do Peppers Need?
The minimum amount of sunlight that peppers need is six hours per day. However, some varieties might need up to ten hours for optimal growth. For example, bell peppers and sweet peppers definitely need those eight hours.
Chili peppers are a bit different. Most can actually tolerate a little bit less sun than other pepper varieties.
If you live in an area with very hot summers, you might want to try growing chili peppers in a spot that gets some afternoon shade and keep your bells and other “sun hungry” varieties in the choice spots.
Can Peppers Grow in Shade?
No, not in full- or half-shade, though they may yet try and struggle to produce fruit. If you have a pepper plant that’s not getting enough sun, it will likely stop bearing fruit altogether until conditions improve. So if you want peppers, make sure they get plenty of sunlight.
However, there is one type of pepper that can tolerate a little bit of shade, and that’s the chili pepper.
As we mentioned before, most chili peppers only need about six hours of direct sunlight daily to produce fruit.
So if you’re tight on premium space in your garden or just don’t have a spot that gets full sun, try growing some chilies instead.
Can Peppers Get Too Much Sun?
Surprisingly, yes; peppers can get too much sun. In times of intense heat, especially when fruits are young and tender, scorching and sunscald might become a problem.
This is part of the reason that peppers can be so maddening to grow! They seemingly always need more light, and then they turn around and get injured or die when they get it. It is enough to make a person go crazy.
The solution is to be ready to offer your peppers shade on an as-needed basis when they start to fruit.
Shade cloths or even a piece of cardboard placed on the ground next to the plants can provide the protection they need from direct sunlight when things start to heat up.
Do Different Varieties of Peppers Need More or Less Sun?
Absolutely. The sheer variety in peppers is part of what makes them so appealing, but also what makes it so tricky to get them “dialed in” when it comes to their sun requirements.
Bell peppers, the most common and popular cultivar in the US, need about eight hours of direct sunlight each day.
On the other hand, chili peppers can get by with as little as six hours of sunlight if soil, temperature and moisture conditions are optimal.
Other types, such as sweet pepper varieties, often fall somewhere in between. The best way to determine how much sun your specific variety needs is to check the seed packet or plant tag when you purchase them.
As a general rule of thumb, however, most pepper cultivars need around eight hours of sunlight each day to produce fruit.
So if you’re not sure how much sun your particular variety needs, err on the side of too much rather than too little.
What Happens if Peppers Don’t Get Enough Sun?
Peppers that don’t get enough sun will often stop bearing fruit altogether. The plant will focus its energy and nutrition on surviving rather than producing fruit to reproduce. This is why it’s so important to make sure your pepper plants are getting enough sunlight.
It is also worth noting that peppers in particular will often start to grow fruit and then suddenly stop growth when conditions are not ideal.
This is often due to excess heat, but can be caused by a lack of sunlight. So long as ideal conditions are resumed the growth of the fruit should restart.
Can Peppers Grow with Indirect Sun?
It’s also worth noting that pepper plants grown in pots or other containers will often still grow properly with indirect sun or indoors, but they will need even more light than usual under the same conditions and for the same cultivar.
For example, a bell pepper grown in a pot may need ten or more hours of light each day to produce fruit, whereas the same variety grown in the ground, outdoors, may only need eight. It all depends on the container, soil type, drainage, and other factors.
So if you’re growing peppers in containers or indoors, make sure they get plenty of light. The best way to do this is to place them near a south-facing window if possible. If not, you can also supplement with grow lights.
Transitioning Peppers from Indoors to Sunlight
When it comes time to transition your peppers from indoors to outdoors, do so gradually. This process is called “hardening off” and it’s important because it helps the plants acclimate to the change in conditions and reduces the risk of transplant shock.
To harden off peppers, start by placing them outside in a shady spot for a couple of hours each day.
Then, over the course of a week or two, gradually increase the amount of time they spend outdoors and in direct sunlight each day.
By the end of the process, your peppers should be able to tolerate being outside in their new home with full sun for eight hours or more per day.
Tom has built and remodeled homes, generated his own electricity, grown his own food and more, all in quest of remaining as independent of society as possible. Now he shares his experiences and hard-earned lessons with readers around the country.