13 Best Peppers to Grow in Containers: Sweet & Hot Varieties

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The best peppers to grow in containers in a 5-gallon bucket garden.

If you’re like me, you’re always looking for ways to squeeze plants in any space you can. Pots and planters of all kinds are perfect for this purpose, and in my opinion, you couldn’t ask for a more container-friendly crop than peppers.

The best peppers to grow in containers include classics like bell peppers, banana peppers, jalapeno, and habanero to lesser-known types like sheepnose pimento, Fushimi, Marconi Red, and bird’s eye peppers.

In this post, we’ll take a look at 13 pepper varieties I recommend for growing in pots and what makes them such a good choice. First, I’ll cover container-friendly sweet varieties, then we’ll move on to the spicy ones.

Let’s get started!

RELATED: I’ve done a lot of container gardening in my time, and I’ve compiled my best tips in my post on growing peppers in pots. Stop by to learn more!

7 Best Sweet Peppers to Grow in Containers

Here’s a quick rundown of the peppers I’ll be talking about here:

  1. Sheepnose pimento pepper
  2. Bell pepper
  3. Fushimi pepper
  4. Marconi Red pepper
  5. Banana pepper
  6. Cherry pepper
  7. Anaheim pepper

1. Sheepnose Pimento Pepper

Sheepnose pimento peppers growing in the garden.

Let’s start the list off with a personal favorite of mine.

I discovered these peppers while browsing around on the Baker Creek website a couple of years ago. These sweet pimento peppers probably get their name from their adorably squashed shape, which is unusual for peppers. This pepper is an Ohio heirloom type that does well in northern climates, producing crisp, juicy peppers with thick walls that keep well in refrigeration. I think they’re especially delicious when eaten fresh!

I planted them in 5-gallon buckets and grow boxes, and I found them to be incredibly hardy and productive in my Midwestern climate. The color progresses from light green to dark green before finally reaching a vibrant red. Expect your sheepnose pimento peppers to take about 70 days to harvest.

2. Bell Pepper

A bell pepper plant growing in a black pot.

No list of peppers is complete without bell peppers!

Bell pepper plants are heavy producers, with large yields of baseball-sized peppers that can be either orange, red, or purple at ripeness. Though it varies a bit by variety, most bell peppers reach full maturity in roughly 75 days.

Bell peppers have the most typical “sweet pepper” flavor, with sturdy flesh that makes them great vehicles for dips, cheeses, etc.

One tip: I’ve found that when I have my bell peppers in a spot where they’re really thriving, the plants can get weighed down by heavy fruit. So you may need to stake up the plants to provide support- a tomato cage or homemade support with sturdy sticks and strings works great.

3. Fushimi Pepper

A fushimi pepper plant growing in the garden.

Fushimi peppers originated in Kyoto, Japan, and they’re very popular there- but they’re still a somewhat obscure heirloom here in the United States. They look like they should be hot, but they are actually sweet and flavorful! Its crispy texture and bright green skin make it great for frying, but they pack a flavor punch when eaten raw, too.

These 24-inch-tall plants are some of the best patio pepper plants- perfect for pots. Expect your Fushimi peppers to be harvest-ready in about 80 days.

4. Marconi Red Pepper

A bowlful of marconi red peppers.

If you like ‘em big, then this is the pepper for you- Marconi Red peppers can grow up to 12 inches long! And with that large size comes a longer maturity time- about 90 days.

In my opinion, Marconi Red peppers are not nearly as well-known as they deserve to be. They have a smokier flavor and thinner walls than other peppers, great for eating raw or in salads.

5. Banana Pepper

A banana pepper plant growing in a container.

This fast-growing pepper is ready for picking in about 60 days. Banana peppers get their name from the shape and color of immature fruit, which resembles a pale yellow banana.

Banana peppers go through several stages as they mature. Ripe fruit will be bright red-orange, and the flavor is mild enough to be eaten raw even while the pepper is still yellow. I’ve dedicated a post on when you should pick your banana peppers, so stop by to get more details.

6. Cherry Pepper

A sweet cherry pepper plant growing in a white pot.

Much like cherry tomatoes, cherry peppers are small and sweet, perfect peppers to grow in containers. They are especially a hit with kids.

But be careful with this one! There are both sweet AND hot cherry pepper varieties– and the hot varieties can be quite spicy. So make sure to pay close attention to get the one you want. For sweet cherry pepper seeds, I recommend True Leaf Market. This particular variety matures in about 75 days.

NOTE: I won’t mention them a second time in the hot section, but the spicy cherry peppers also make excellent container plants.

7. Anaheim Pepper

An anaheim pepper plant growing in a pot.

One of the classic sweet pepper varieties, Anaheim peppers are sweet with a slightly spicy edge. These are the perfect peppers for stuffing, frying, and roasting, thanks to the large size of their fruit and complex flavor.

Your Anaheim peppers should be ready to pick in around 60 days.

6 Best Hot Peppers to Grow in Pots

Now let’s turn our attention to some of the hot peppers you can grow in containers! We’ll be talking about these varieties:

  1. Jalapeno pepper
  2. Carolina reaper pepper
  3. Habanero pepper
  4. Serrano pepper
  5. Bird’s eye chili peppers
  6. Fresno pepper

Pepper heat is measured in Scoville Heat Units- if you’d like to learn more about that, I found this article on Masterclass to be a helpful reference. And for a more technical explanation, this video from Youtubepedia is really interesting:

1. Jalapeno Pepper

A jalepeno pepper plant growing in the garden.

Jalapenos are among the easiest hot peppers to grow, and they are especially good for pots since they tend to grow tall, not wide, and end up loaded with fruit.

Harvest when green for classic jalapeno flavor (about 60-75 days), or wait until they ripen to red for some major heat (about 140 days)! On the Scoville scale, jalapenos average around 10,000 heat units.

2. Carolina Reaper Pepper

A Carolina reaper pepper plant growing in the garden.

Don’t let their small size fool you: The 2.5-inch Carolina Reaper peppers clock in at over 1.5 million Scoville units! Extremely spicy but with flavor notes of chocolate and cherry underneath, the peppers can be added to salsa, chili, and hot sauce, or dehydrated for chili flakes that pack a punch.

The plants can grow up to 5 feet tall, but with a large pot, it’s still totally doable. Plan to have some patience for your Carolina Reapers to reach full maturity- it takes up to 120 days.

3. Habanero Pepper

A habanero pepper plant growing in the garden.

A quick-to-harvest hot pepper (about 90 days after germination), habanero peppers pack a lot of spice along with a citrusy tang. Harvest when orange for the best flavor and heat- around 350,000 on the Scoville scale.

These medium-sized peppers are a great addition to hot sauce! 

4. Serrano Pepper

A serrano pepper plant growing in a sunny indoor area in a pot.

A great variety of hot pepper for short growing seasons, serranos take about 60 days to be ready for harvest.

Serranos taste a lot like their cousins the jalapenos, but are more slender with a bit more heat that will intensify if plants are left to ripen to red on the plant. At maximum heat, serranos are about 23,000 in Scoville units.

The 3-inch fruits can also be pickled, fried, or dried.

5. Bird’s Eye Chili Pepper

A bird's eye chili pepper plant growing in a metal container.

A staple of Vietnamese, Malaysian, Thai, and Indonesian cuisine, these chilis have a fruity flavor and considerable heat. They reach about 225,000 on the Scoville scale. Green chilis are used for milder green curries, while red chilis are used for more intense red curries.

The small, thin, and pointy peppers grow on equally small bushes perfectly sized for growing in a pot. Like the photo above shows, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more bountiful harvest from a small space!

Plan on roughly 80 days after germination to begin picking your bird’s eye chilis.

6. Fresno Pepper

A Fresno pepper plant growing in the garden.

Discovered in the 1950s in Fresno County, CA, this little pepper is similar in size and shape to a jalapeno. But unlike the jalapeno, it features a smoky flavor and thin walls that break down easily when cooked, making it a great culinary pepper for sauces and Southwestern dishes.

Fresno peppers have a pretty wide of heat- some peppers are about 2,500 in Scoville heat units (which is not considered hot) while others reach 10,000- around the level of a jalapeno.

Your Fresno peppers should be ready for harvest in the typical pepper timeframe- about 75-90 days.

Frequently Asked Questions about Growing Peppers in Containers

One pepper plant requires about 1 square foot of space. So if your pot is 12 inches wide, one pepper is likely the limit; 18 to 20-inch pots could probably handle two of the smaller pepper types, and 24-inch pots can take two larger pepper plants.

Smaller peppers will ripen more quickly and be less susceptible to cracking or rot on the stem. This means that jalapeno, serrano, cherry, and Fushimi peppers are the easiest on this list.

Yes! Peppers are easy to grow in general, and as long as they are getting enough light, water, and fertilizer, they will flourish in containers.

Final Thoughts

If you never thought you could grow peppers in containers, I hope this post has given you inspiration! Peppers are some of my personal favorite veggies for pots, so I hope you’ll do some experimenting for yourself!

I’d love to hear from you! Do you have any other questions about which peppers you can grow in pots or containers? Or maybe you’ve got some extra tips to share that you’ve discovered from container gardening before. Either way, I’m always eager to hear your thoughts to answer questions or learn something new, so please feel free to share in the comments!

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