Now that summer is almost here, it’s pretty safe to say it’s time to put peppers in the ground in most areas of the country. Peppers thrive in soil that’s at least 50 to 60 degrees F. Whether you like them hot or sweet, here are some tips to give them a good start in the garden.

1. Select Healthy Plants

The seedlings you choose to plant in the garden need to be their best because they’ll go through a period of stress as they adjust to garden life. Choose plants that aren’t overly spindly, and those that have no fruit or flowers. (You can also just remove fruit or flowers if the plant looks generally healthy.) Allow the seedlings to harden off outdoors before planting so the can acclimate to the outdoor climate.

2. Get Rid Of The Weeds

Give all new plants—peppers included—the advantage of starting off in a weed-free bed, so they don’t have to compete with surrounding plants for water and nutrients.

3. Perform A Soil Test

A soil test will reveal the quality of soil in your garden bed, so you can add the appropriate fertilizers accordingly. There shouldn’t be too much nitrogen in the soil because that will give you a bushy plant rather than one that produces plentiful peppers.

4. Carefully Transplant

If you’re planting at the right time, your seedlings won’t have become root bound in their containers. Carefully remove the plants without disturbing their root systems. If by chance they have become root bound, you can disturb the roots a bit so they’re free to reach into the soil. If needed, add some fertilizer followed by compost into the whole to add a nutritional boost.

5. Mulch Around Plants

Add a mulch, such as leaf shavings, around the pepper plants to protect the soil and prevent water evaporation.

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