Pepper Plants and Frost: How Cold Can Pepper Plants Tolerate?

How Cold Can Pepper Plants Tolerate

If you’re growing peppers all season, you’ll need to know what temperature they can tolerate. Pepper plants aren’t like Elsa from Frozen since they get bothered by freezing temperatures. 

The lowest temperature that a pepper plant can tolerate is 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius). Any lower temperature will cause them damage or death. 

In this article, we’ll explore how low temperature affects pepper plants and give you some time on how to protect them from the cold. So read on to learn how to keep your pepper plants healthy even if it’s cold outside.

What are the effects of low temperatures on peppers?

What are the effects of low temperatures on peppers
Image: Pinterest

Here is a table summarizing the effects of low temperatures on pepper plants.

Temperature Range (Fahrenheit)Effect on Pepper Plants
32-40Wilting
40-50Stop growing
50-60Flowering but no fruiting
60-70Produces fruit but no ripening
70-80Will produce ripe fruit
80-90Start to die
90-100Death

Pepper plants thrive in environments with 70 to 80°F (21 to 27°C) for bell peppers and 70 to 85°F (21 to 29°C) for hot peppers. 

Although warm-weather crops, pepper plants can tolerate temperatures as low as 32°F (0°C) or until the freezing point. If the temperature drops below 32°F (0°C), pepper plants will wilt and die.

Prolonged exposure to the cold will lead to no germination, stunted growth and even death. Young pepper plants are also more prone to cold damage than mature ones. 

Sunlight also affects the pepper plant’s cold tolerance. Those who receive more sunlight can tolerate the cold better because sunlight helps warm the plant’s tissues, leading to more protection from frost damage. 

Soil temperature also affects how plants tolerate the cold. Those planted in warm soil have warm roots that help the pepper plant survive cold snaps during cold weather.

How to Protect Pepper Plants from the Cold and Frost

How to Protect Pepper Plants from the Cold and Frost
Image: GFL Outdoors

Now that you know how cold peppers can tolerate, here are proven and tested tips on protecting your pepper plant from cold and frost damage.

1. Choose the suitable pepper variety. 

Choose the suitable pepper variety
Image: Pinterest

There are over 50,000 pepper varieties worldwide, each with different cold tolerance levels. You also have to consider the climate zone of your garden and the amount of sunlight it gives to make sure that your pepper plant will survive the cold weather. 

Some pepper varieties can tolerate temperatures as low as 32°F (0°C), such as

  1. Hungarian Hot Wax Pepper
  2. Jalapeno Pepper
  3. Serrano Pepper
  4. Anaheim Pepper
  5. Poblano Pepper
  6. Aji Lemon Drop Pepper
  7. Carolina Reaper Pepper
  8. Johnny Cash Pepper
  9. Kaiser Chili Pepper
  10. NuMex Twilight Pepper
  11. Rocoto Pepper
  12. Santa Fe Grande Pepper
  13. Tabasco Pepper
  14. White Ghost Pepper
  15. Yankee Bell Pepper

2. Decide on the pepper planting schedule.

Decide on the pepper planting schedule
Image: Reader’s Digest

Generally, pepper seeds should be germinated indoors within 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost date in your area to give them a head start on surviving the cold. 

This way, you can also control the temperature and humidity for your pepper plants to grow strong and healthy. After 2 to 3 weeks from the last frost date, you can harden off the pepper seedling and transplant your pepper plants. 

3. Start pepper seeds indoors.

Start pepper seeds indoors
Image: Grow Hot Peppers
DifficultyEasy ●○○○○
Duration4 to 6 weeks
Things You Need

Pepper seeds
Seed starter mix
Pot or seed tray
Watering can
Windowsill

When you start pepper seeds indoors, you’re giving them a head start on the growing season so they can be strong and healthy enough once the cold weather begins. 

Eventually, you can transplant them outdoors when they’re stronger and with a better chance of surviving the extreme cold temperatures. Below are ways to start your pepper seeds indoors. 

How To Do
1. Fill your pot or seed tray with a seed starter mix. 
2. Sow the pepper seeds about ½ inch deep in the tray. Water the seeds.
3. Place the pot or seed tray near a windowsill.
4. Mist the seeds regularly to keep the soil moist.

4. Apply cold treatment to pepper plants.

Apply cold treatment to pepper plants
Image: Plantophiles
DifficultyEasy ●○○○○
Duration1 week
Things You NeedPepper plant

Cold treatment is a gardening technique to toughen up pepper plants and make them more resistant to cold weather. This involves exposing the pepper plant to cold temperatures gradually.

How To Do
1. Germinate your pepper seeds indoors about 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost in your area.
2. Place the plants in a location where the temperature is between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. 
3. Every week, lower the temperature by 5 degrees Fahrenheit. 
4. Make sure to water the pepper plant regularly during this period. 
5. Stop the cold treatment method when you reach 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
6. Maintain this temperature until the last frost date passes.
7. You can now transplant your peppers outdoors.

5. Protect established pepper plants from cold.

Protect established pepper plants from cold
Image: Pinterest

Once pepper plants have established their roots, you can protect them from the cold using a cloche, cold frame, row cover or by placing them inside a greenhouse. 

These cover materials protect plants from frost damage and help them continue growing and producing fruits amid the cold. It also reduces their chances of dying and can even extend their growing season. 

  • Protects the plants from frost damage.
  • Helps the plants to continue growing and producing fruit.
  • Reduces the risk of the plants dying.
  • Can extend the growing season.
  • Can save you money on heating costs.

1. Cloche

Cloche
Image: Alibaba

A cloche is a small transparent plastic dome used to cover plants. It’s a great choice to keep plants warm and protect small pepper plants or those just starting to flower from extreme cold or frost.

2. Cold Frame

Cold Frame
Image: Garden Street

A cold frame is a small enclosure usually made of wood with a top made of glass to allow sunlight to pass through. They are best used in protecting larger and flowering pepper plants from the frost.

3. Row Cover

Row Cover
Image: Wisconsin Horticulture

Row covers are lightweight fabrics, typically polypropylene, to keep the plants warm and prevent pests from attacking them. These are best used for pepper plants in a field, row or a large area.

4. Greenhouse

Greenhouse
Image: Growing Family

A greenhouse is a large structure, usually made of glass or plastic and keeps the plants warm all year round. They will not only protect pepper plants from the cold, hail and wind but also help extend its growing season. 

6. Pinch off early flowers on pepper plants.

Pinch off early flowers on pepper plants
Image: Homestead and Chill

Pinching off early flowers is a gardening technique that helps strengthen the plant and leads to more flower and fruit production during the growing season. 

Removing these flowers will divert its energy into developing stronger roots and stems and prevent the plant from becoming easily stressed by cold weather.

We recommend removing the early flowers as soon as you see them and before the weather gets cold. They look like unopened flower buds at the base of the plant. 

FAQs on Lowest Temperature on Pepper Plants

At what temperature should I cover my pepper plants?


You should cover your plant once the temperature drops below 32°F (0°C) to protect them from frost damage. You can use a cloche, cold frame, or row cover or place them inside a greenhouse during the cold weather.

Can peppers survive light frost?


Their well-established roots and stems allow mature pepper plants to survive light frost. However, young pepper plants are too fragile and will die due to light frost. 

Can peppers recover from frost damage?


Pepper plants can recover from frost damage if you nurse them with regular watering, apply balanced fertilizers, and cover them with cloche during cold weather.

What temperature is too hot for pepper plants?


Pepper plants cannot tolerate temperatures above 95°F (35°C). Prolonged exposure to above this level will lead to pepper plants wilting and stunted growth. 

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