So, How Much Sun Do Jalapenos Need?

One of the trickiest aspects of growing a variety of vegetables in your garden is getting the different sunlight requirements down pat.

mature jalapeno plants in the garden
mature jalapeno plants in the garden

Some of your veggies need tons of sun, others need less, and a few very particular ones are quite vulnerable to excess sun.

Let’s look at jalapenos. How much sun do jalapenos need daily?

Jalapenos need at least 6 hours of sunlight daily. More sun is usually better, but peppers should be protected from the most intense afternoon sun or else they can burn.

Jalapenos, like most other peppers, are sun-loving plants that are still curiously vulnerable to intense heat and excess afternoon sun.

One of the most common mistakes that beginning growers make is letting them stay sun drenched during the afternoon, an error that will usually result in the peppers being scalded.

But, this is easy enough to plan around if you know what you’re doing, and I’ll tell you all about that and more in the rest of this article…

Is Full Sun Best for Jalapenos?

Yes, as a rule. Plenty of direct sun is necessary to get seeds and seedlings started, and mature peppers will grow faster and usually grow larger peppers the more sun they get.

How Many Hours of Sun a Day is Best for Jalapenos?

6 hours at a minimum, and the more you can give them the better, most of the time. As I mentioned above, jalapenos usually need to be protected from the most intense hours of afternoon sun, especially in hotter climates.

Will Too Much Sun Hurt Jalapenos?

This is a slightly tricky question to answer. Jalapenos can never get enough light, but what they can get too much of is heat.

When jalapenos get too hot, they halt growth, and usually divert resources to ripening what peppers are already grown… In extreme cases, they divert those resources from the peppers to keep the rest of the plant alive.

This is why it is important to shield the peppers themselves from direct sunlight in the hottest part of the day when the temperatures are already high. If temperatures are a little lower, they can get direct sun all day long.

Another vulnerability of jalapenos is that the peppers can be scalded by particularly intense sun.

This can occur even when temperatures are otherwise in the acceptable range, so if the UV index in your area is very high, shade those peppers during the mid- or late- afternoon.

Sunscald is usually not the end of the world, but it can hurt the overall quality and flavor of your peppers.

Note that the leaves of the jalapeno plant play a role in shading the vulnerable peppers, so as usual make it a point to protect the leaves from pests and incidental damage while you are working.

For shade, you can use the usual garden mesh or improvise with any other piece of fabric that you might have.

Do Jalapenos Do Well in Indirect Sun?

Yes, surprisingly enough. They just need lots of light, period, direct or indirect. Many folks have successfully grown jalapenos indoors and, as long as you have a super sunny spot near a south-facing window, they’ll probably be fine.

Jalapenos also do well using grow lamps, but most types will need extra light compared to sunlight.

If your jalapenos are usually getting around 9 or 10 hours of sunlight a day, consider giving them 11 to 12 hours under a grow lamp for similar results.

Especially be ready to click on the lamps if you normally rely on sunlight through a window should you have an overcast day, because this can severely impair your peppers!

Will Jalapenos Thrive in Shade?

No, even though the peppers themselves do need shading from the harshest sunlight.

A healthy jalapeno plant will take care of some of its own shade requirements via its leaves, but the plant as a whole will only tolerate some shade and it will not thrive in partial or full shade.

Shade also has a tendency to cool the surrounding soil temperature too much for the health of the plant; warm soil is absolutely vital for healthy jalapenos!

Keep that quirk in mind if your jalapenos seem to be suffering for no apparent reason…

If they are getting plenty of sun but not getting too hot, have the right nutrition and aren’t being harmed by pests, the soil might just be too cool!

What Happens to Jalapenos That Don’t Get Enough Sun?

Jalapenos that don’t get the prescribed amount of sun on a regular basis will still likely survive, but they might fail to produce fruit, and what peppers they do produce are usually going to be scrawny, bland, and not particularly spicy.

Basically, they’ll be bad jalapenos! But, if the plant survives you can at least try again next year.

Now, this isn’t to say the plant itself will live if forced to endure with a major light deficit for long: it won’t. But the plant will persist even if it does not produce peppers for a time.

Sun Requirements for Different Jalapeno Varieties

You probably already know that there are tons of different spicy peppers out there, including some specialty cultivars that can melt the enamel right off your teeth.

But did you know that jalapenos have dozens and dozens of subtypes? It’s true, and though they all need lots of sun they do have varying characteristics when it comes to shade tolerance and more.

For instance, if you are struggling to grow jalapenos in a more temperate area, or just want to get a jump on them early in the spring, look up the NuMex varieties that are both shade tolerant and even resistant to light frost.

Also, your jalapenos need not necessarily be green, and if you can get over that, the red varieties will prove to be more tolerant of shade and less sun overall while still developing full flavor and plenty of “heat”.

Despite these differences, each and every jalapeno species will need 6 hours of sun a day, and usually more, so you can plan on that at least.

Tips for Bringing Indoor Jalapenos Outside

You might not be surprised to learn that some gardeners prefer to grow their peppers indoors all the time, even when the outside conditions are ideal.

Just having a greater degree of control over these sometimes temperamental peppers can ensure that you actually get to harvest them.

But, if you’re just starting yours inside from seed in order to protect them until the spring weather stabilizes, you must harden them off before you transplant them outdoors.

Hardening off is a process by which you slowly acclimate plants that are used to indoor conditions to those that will be experiencing every day outdoors.

If you don’t harden off your plans, they will suffer more from transplant shock and you can expect to lose several of them.

Some plants are more vulnerable to transplant shock than others, and jalapenos tend to be moderately sensitive, so you don’t want to skip this step.

But it’s easy considering the small size of the plants at this early stage of development. Simply move their trays or pots outside when it’s warm and leave them in the shade for a couple of hours before bringing them back in.

The next day, repeat the process but increase the amount of time you leave them outdoors by about 30 minutes….

Do this over and over again daily, increasing the amount of time they stay outdoors by 30 minutes or so each time.

At the end of a week (or a little longer if you can afford to) your plants will be fully acclimatized to the outside conditions.

If you’re willing to put up with this simple process for that long you can greatly increase the chances your jalapenos will thrive, and that you will have a bumper crop of peppers!

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