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Growing Capsicum Hydroponically (Bell Pepper)

Introduction to growing Capsicum hydroponically

Hydroponics is a suitable system of growing crops in which nutrients, space, fertilizer, and labor are efficiently used. You can use hydroponics to grow Capsicum any time of the year. It is possible to increase Capsicum size and production with this type of indoor growing system. The plants receive a constant food source from the nutrient-rich water, and they have few problems with pests and diseases that are found in soil-grown plants. Hydroponic Capsicum can taste better than regular soil peppers because you can adjust the daylight hours and increase the nutrient levels easily. In this article we also discussed the following topics;

  • Hydroponic Capsicum growing conditions
  • Hydroponic Capsicum nutrient requirements
  • Hydroponic Capsicum growing medium
  • Hydroponic systems for growing Capsicum

A step by step guide to growing Capsicum hydroponically

Hydroponic systems for growing Capsicum

Several types of hydroponic systems are available. Best for beginners is the deep-water or ebb-and-flow types, which are ideal for growing Capsicum. Then, you can purchase a hydroponics system and supplies from garden supply centers or online garden retailers.

Capsicum is a slightly more advanced hydroponic plant and doesn’t let them grow to their full height, instead, prune and pinch plants at about 8 inches to Capsicum growth.  Deepwater culture or ebb and flow systems are best for Capsicum.

Ebb and Flow Hydroponic Systems

Ebb and Flow Hydroponic Systems are a good choice for growing Capsicum. They can easily accommodate the large root system of a Bell pepper plant, and they are easily converted over to growing large top-heavy plants.

Hydroponic Bubbler DWC

A Hydroponic Bubbler System is an easy method for beginners to grow hydroponic bell pepper plants. Deepwater culture systems allow you to immerse roots in a highly oxygenated nutrient solution, which will ensure high pepper fruit yields and rapid plant development.

Prepare seedbed for growing Capsicum hydroponically

To grow your Capsicum in the best possible environment, you need to prepare the environment you will be growing your seeds in. It is recommended to start with new netting in which to start seeds. The netting must be porous enough to allow a sturdy root system to grow. Hydroponic Capsicum grows pretty big, so they need all the support they can get. By using Styrofoam or other support will help the plant to stay upright as it grows.

Water and nutrients for growing Capsicum hydroponically

The optimal pH for Capsicum growing hydroponically is between 6.0 to 6.5. A low pH level can be corrected by adding sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide to the water. Small amounts of one or the other must be used. Never touch hydroxides with wet hands and handle them as little as possible and when you do, use sturdy water-resistant gloves. If possible, test any pH adjustments on a single plant before you continue to make adjustments to the entire nutrient solution.

The water and nutrients in the hydroponics system’s pump bucket need daily testing with a hydroponics water meter. The meter provides the pH level and nutrient levels available in the water. Use a liquid hydroponics solution to keep the water pH between 6.0 and 6.5, employing the water meter reading as a guide. A digital water meter can provide exact solution and nutrient amounts, or refer to the booklet included with the meter to translate the readings to the solution measurement. Apply a complete hydroponics nutrient solution or liquid-soluble fertilizer in the amount recommended for the water meter test results.

Hydroponic nutrients play an important role in the final yield of a bell pepper plant. You must use a fertilizer with a 5-10-10 NPK ratio on bell pepper plants. The higher potassium and phosphorus levels in a 5-10-10 fertilizer will encourage the pepper plants to spend less energy on growing new plant leaves and instead focus that energy on fruit production.

The spacing of Capsicum plants in hydroponics

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The spacing of Capsicum plants in hydroponics.
The spacing of Capsicum plants in hydroponics.

If you are planting Capsicum plants, they need to be 18 to 24 inches away from each other. If you’re aiming for smaller Bell pepper plants, then the spacing requirement is half. We’ve even seen Bell pepper plants that are quite close to each other, but to ensure that the plants are getting enough light, a massive LED grows light is directed toward the leaves.

Bell pepper plants must be spaced 18 to 24-inches apart at a minimum. When Bell pepper plants are grown in the soil they generally are planted with 24-inch row spacing. In a hydroponic system, you won’t have to worry about row spacing, but you still want to give each plant about 2 sq ft of space.

Provide the right amount of light for growing Capsicum hydroponically

Capsicum plants in general require a lot of sunlight to thrive, so to be on the safe side, allow your plants to be exposed to 14 to 18 hours of light per day, with the remaining hours (8 to 10 hours) for the nighttime cycle. Nighttime is just as important as the daylight cycle as plants undergo vital processes that take place in the absence of light.

The grow lights must be 6 to 8 inches over the pepper plants. Any closer can cause scorching, any further, and the plants will not get the full benefit of the lighting system. As the plants mature- naturally you will have to periodically adjust the height of the lights to maintain the 6 to 8-inch distance. Your bell pepper needs a very decent amount of light to grow. Set a hydroponic light system to provide at least 8 hours of direct light a day. You can give either natural or artificial light. It is suggested if you give natural light to your Capsicum that you use shaded light to do so. This is accomplished by using dark netting over the cover for the hydroponic system. The shade will help you to control not only the amount of light but also the temperature for the Capsicum are growing in.

Conditions required for growing Capsicum hydroponically

Grow time – About 90 days

Best pH – 6.0 to 6.5

Light – Plan to provide up to 18 hours of light for these plants each day, and raise your light rack as the plants grow, keeping plants 6 inches from the lights.

Plant variety options – Ace, California Wonder, Vidi, Yolo Wonder

Capsicums are excellent crops to grow in hydroponics and these plants do best in an ebb-and-flow or NFT hydroponic systems. Take a sterile seed starting mix and then fill the pots. Then, use a small pot for a single plant and large seed tray for multiple plants. Sow the Bell pepper seeds deep of 1/16th inch in the moist media and cover the seed slightly with media. You can sow 2 to 5 seeds in each pot so that you can choose and transplant the healthy one. Keep the Bell pepper plants in a warm sunny area away from direct sunlight and water them every day.

When planting the Bell pepper seeds, make sure they are resting in the water and nutrient solution. It is very important that at the beginning of the plant’s life you are providing nutrients in the water a couple of times a day. Later on, you can cut back to just once a day, however it is a good idea to remain with a two time a day nutrient injection into the water. This will allow the bell pepper seeds to get everything they need to grow the essential root systems which will support them as they grow big and strong.

In about a week, you can see the signs of the plant growth, and when the seeds start sprouting, provide them good sunlight. Once the pepper seedlings began to set true leaves you can transplant them. Check for the healthiest plants and then remove them carefully without damaging the roots.

Plant the seedlings in the hydroponic growing medium. And used the equal part of coco peat and vermicomposting mix in the hydroponic growing medium. Plant the seedlings on top of the growing medium spreading out the plant roots leaving at least a foot of space between them.

The process of growing Capsicum plants hydroponically

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The process of growing Capsicum plants hydroponically.
The process of growing Capsicum plants hydroponically.
  • Fill the hydroponics unit with water, and let it run for 2 or 3 days before planting the Capsicum. Then, add hydroponics nutrients to the water, using the package instructions for the volume of water in the system.
  • Remove the Bell pepper seedlings from their growing container. Dip the root ball in a room-temperature bucket of water to gently loosen the soil around the plant roots. Remove as much soil as possible without damaging the plant roots. Then, you can leave a small amount of soil on the roots when planting into the hydroponics system.
  • Plant each soilless Bell pepper plant into a netted pot containing a soilless hydroponics medium. Set the Bell pepper plants slightly deeper than they were growing in the original container. Plant one pepper in each netted pot, and space the pots 9 inches apart in the hydroponics system.
  • Set up indoor grow lights over top of the hydroponics system so that the bulb is about 6 to 8 inches above the top of the pepper plants. Put a timer on the lights so that they stay on for about 10 to 12 hours each day. Raise the lights as the Bell pepper plants grow taller to prevent burning the foliage.
  • Monitor the water level in the hydroponics system and add water as needed to keep enough water in the system for proper growth. Add nutrients to the system each time you refresh the water or add more to the reservoir, to give proper nutrition for growth. Then, use the package instructions for the hydroponics nutrients based on the amount of water you are adding.
  • Prune the pepper plants by pinching off 2 or 3 stem buds when the plants are about 6 to 8 inches tall to limit branch growth and force the plant energy toward pepper production. Remove 1 or 2 buds from each pepper branch as they appear, which will increase the size of peppers produced from the remaining buds.
  • Shake the pepper plants 2 or 3 times a week when the buds open, to help with pollination. Place a small household fan near the hydroponics system and set it to low, to assist with pollination.
  • Start applying root enhancers to the growing medium. After a month, start applying primary nutrients, add 2ml per liter of water, and apply it twice a week for almost 2 months. For the first 3 weeks trim off the flower buds, so that the plant will direct its effort toward growing stronger and grow more flowers later. And make sure you water them properly.
  • Start harvesting your hydroponic Capsicum once they reach the required or sufficient size. Usually, Capsicum takes 90 to 120 days after germination.

Pruning Bell pepper plants in a hydroponic system

The Bell pepper plants will need to prune periodically by pinching off a few stem buds once the plants reach 6 to 8 inches in height. And be sure you know the difference between a stem bud and a flower bud. Removing some of these flowers will make your pepper plant devote more energy to developing bigger vegetables rather than a lot of smaller ones.

Early season Bell pepper plant pruning should be done when the plant is one foot tall and should cease once peppers have set. Generally, Bell pepper plants have a Y shape and branches then create smaller and smaller Y shapes jutting off of the main stems. By the time the plant is a foot tall, you will be able to see the strongest branches on the Bell pepper plant. Cut back any smaller branches, including suckers. Be careful not to damage the main stem, which will cause the Capsicum plant to perform poorly. Removing the flower nodes early will force the plant to devote more energy into the remaining blossoms, resulting in larger and healthier fruits.

Harvesting hydroponic Capsicum

Capsicums are ready for harvesting once they have approximately 85-90 percent of their surface colored. Capsicum should be removed from plants using a sharp knife; if you try to simply pull the fruit off the plants, both the fruit and plant can get damaged.

Hydroponic Capsicum/Bell pepper yield per plant

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Hydroponic Capsicum yield.
Hydroponic Capsicum yield.

The average hydroponic Bell pepper yield per plant can be significantly higher than a soil-grown pepper plant. A hydroponic bell pepper plant can produce a yield of about 40 to 100 pounds of peppers per plant. While the average Bell pepper plant grown in soil will only yield around 3 to 5 pounds per plant. The average yield of hydroponic Capsicum depends on several factors such as the pepper variety, nutrient levels, and the type of hydroponic system that they were grown in.

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  1. Hi Jagdish,

    thanks for writing about how to grow bell pepper hydroponically. I’m looking for complete nutrition guide for hydroponic bell pepper from planting it from hydroponic pipes to plucking bell peppers. Would really appreciate if you could help me with the same.


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