How to Grow and Care for Black Pepper at Home

How to Grow and Care for Black Pepper at Home
How to Grow and Care for Black Pepper at Home

The black pepper plant is one of the most common and beloved spices with a fantastic history. But the plant itself is just as striking, and its dried fruits can be found in every kitchen. In our climate, this powerful and beautiful vine with its colorful foliage and unusual scales can only be grown in warm greenhouses and rooms. Realizing the ornamental value of the black pepper plant in room form is not easy, and its harvest is rather an unattainable dream. It requires special watering and tropical conditions. But for lovers of exotic plant fruits, the black pepper plant is considered a suitable plant for indoor cultivation. In this article, ThumbGarden will explain how to take care of and grow black pepper.


Black pepper is extra popular in the home. Admittedly, we are almost always talking about the usual pods of black pepper – both sweet, spicy, and purely decorative. Unlike the black pepper plants in the Solanaceae family, the true peppers of the Piperaceae family are not an exotic species to everyone. Their fruits firmly hold the title of the most common spice on the planet. And the beauty of the fruit-bearing vines, like the cultivars that are houseplants, needs a closer look.

The black pepper plant, pepper vine, and Piper nigrum are the large, powerful, large-leaved, half-tree vine. It can reach 50 inches (15 m) in the wild but is usually limited to 80 inches (2 m) in the room. The shoots are slender and flexible, with aerial roots growing from the leaf nodes and absorbing water from the air. The simple, ovate leaves have a leathery surface and look very nice. At up to 4 inches (10 cm) long, they reach 3 inches (7.5 cm) wide. Their surprise is the formation of “eggs,” white round shapes that gradually darken and become almost black. They are very easily confused with pest markings, but there is no need to fear them or treat or remove them.

Black pepper flowers appear exotic: the low hanging inflorescences and the inconspicuous gray flowers in the earrings are unrecognizable. The same cannot be said for the fruits that ripen in their place. There is a seeded, rounded drupe, up to 0.2 inches (0.5 cm) in diameter, which gradually turns red as it ripens. The dense, twisted capsules, 3-6 inches (7.5-15 cm) long, are very decorative. Black pepper plants and white, green, and pink peppers are obtained from fruits harvested at different stages and processed in different ways. A plant can bear fruit twice a year for more than 25 years – the older it is, the more there is. If it blooms with abandon in the room. Very often, it will simply give up its inflorescence.


Growing Conditions of the Black Pepper Plant
Growing Conditions of the Black Pepper Plant

Deciding on the format of having a black pepper plant in the room, it is worth remembering that it will have to imitate the usual “Indian” conditions. Lighting and temperature are key factors. In less than ideal conditions, the plant will not only fail to flower but also achieve sufficient decorative and lushness.

Lighting and Placement

The black pepper plant is often referred to as a shade-loving plant, but as a candidate for landscaping remote and adequately shaded corners, it can only be used in the south, where the light regime is somewhat different. The plant is best avoided in direct sunlight; eastern and western windowsills (or similar regimes) are key to its good growth and flowering opportunities.

Without extra light, it will not succeed, much less bloom. Even in winter, 12 to 14 hours of sunlight should be provided.

Temperature and Ventilation

The thermophilic black pepper plant does well in the summer, preferring 73-80 °F (23-27°C). However, in winter, it requires slightly lower temperatures, equivalent to a forced dormancy period, of 60-68 °F (16-20°C).

The minimum temperature that black pepper plants tolerate is 53-55 °F (12-13°C). Below 50 °F (10°C), the plant usually dies.

The black pepper plant likes to dry out, but it is best to protect it from strong temperature fluctuations. For summer, it can be placed outside in a cool and warm place to control nighttime readings.


The black pepper plant is extremely sensitive to drought and dry air and will not forgive watering mistakes. And caring for it is not easy.

Watering and air humidity

This plant requires very frequent watering in the summer and careful watering in the winter. Waterlogged, wet black pepper plants don’t like it, but what’s even worse for the vine is the intense drying of the soil. The correct moisture level is easier to maintain if you drain the tray immediately and allow the top 1 inch (2.5 cm) of soil to dry out before the next watering. In winter, it is best to dry out the substrate up to 2 inches (5 cm) and gradually reduce watering from autumn onwards.

Black pepper plants do not tolerate hard water. It is best to water with filtered, boiled, and, if possible, melted water or rainwater.

High air humidity is a key factor for black pepper plants. The closer to the ideal 80%, the better. In summer, in the heat, plants can be content with very frequent sprinkling, but usually, you also need moist sphagnum moss trays or humidifiers, and for young plants, hoods and mini-greenhouses.

Feeding and fertilizer composition

For black pepper plants, a classic fertilizer applied during the peak growth period is sufficient, from mid-spring to mid-autumn – a standard dose of compound fertilizer every 2 weeks, or alternate between organic and mineral fertilizers.

Pruning and shaping of black pepper plants

It is a flexible, supportive vine that easily forms columns, circles, screens, and other shapes. Unwanted stems can be cut off completely, and stems that are too long and elongated can be shortened. Perform sanitary and formative pruning in early spring.

Transplanting, containers and substrates

This vine is not tolerant of transplanting, so change containers only when the roots grow and emerge from the pot. Transplanting should be done with as little trauma as possible and with care to keep the plot intact.

Black pepper plants need a loose, coarse, nutritious substrate. In a general-purpose soil mix, adding portions of sand, perlite, sphagnum, and fine bark is best to improve air permeability. You can experiment with substrates for orchids by adding leaf soil and sand. The acceptable pH for black pepper plants is between 5.5 and 6.5. There must be a high drainage layer. This vine grows better in plastic rather than ceramic containers.


Pests and Problems in Growing Black Pepper Plants
Pests and Problems in Growing Black Pepper Plants

Leaf loss can occur if the plant is excessively dry, over-watered, or lacks light. Dry air first “dries out” the leaf tips, and under moist conditions, the leaves first turn yellow and then fall off. The combination of improper moisture and light always affects growth.

In addition to rot, the “typical” diseases black pepper plants are not afraid of. Neither are most pests, which are scared off by the aroma and the toxicity of the leaves (with the exception of whiteflies, which should be treated immediately with systemic insecticides).


You won’t find a black pepper plant on the shelf: you may need to “hunt” for it. The safest course of action is to buy seedlings (e.g., from a botanical garden or greenhouse) or cuttings. This vine can be propagated by root tip and stem cuttings and definitely by aerial roots, at least in the initial stages of development.

In spring, at the initial stage of growth, the cuttings are cut and rooted. A greenhouse is a must for cuttings and a prerequisite for high temperatures of 77-86 °F (25-30 °C). Long, flexible shoots fixed in the soil will also root well.

There is so much dubious information about starting from seed. You should look specifically for black pepper plant seeds for growing liana on flower beds, during your vacation in Asia, or in exotic plant stores. It is easy to grow from black pepper plant seeds available in every store and market, but in practice, it is often disappointing. Of course, you can try, but remember that the black pepper plant is still an unripe fruit, albeit air-dried. And the seeds should not be older than 1 year. Otherwise, there is no hope of germination. Even with special seeds purchased, the chances are quite low.

Seedlings are very sensitive to light deficiency and need longer daylight hours, so it is best to delay sowing until May or June or to schedule 14-16 hours of continuous supplemental light. Pretreatment consists of simply soaking the seeds in warm water for about 24 hours – at a temperature of about 86 °F (30 °C). The seeds that float out are discarded, and the rest are sown. You can also treat the seeds with a growth stimulant. Or you can first spread them on wet sand under a film and germinate them in a warm place over 77 °F (25 °C) until they germinate.

Sowing black pepper plant seeds is not complicated. Scatter the seeds in individual cups or a common container at a distance of 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm), deepening them by 0.2-0.4 inches (0.5-1 cm) in a light soil mixture. A well-drained layer should be placed at the bottom of the container. Place the crop under glass or film in greenhouse conditions at 77-86 °F (25-30 °C) with daily ventilation and light humidity in the soil. If no seedlings appear for more than 2 months, you cannot expect success (the standard period is about 3 to 4 weeks). Pick after 3 to 4 leaves have emerged.

Young black peppers are difficult to maintain with any propagation method. They are very sensitive to changes in humidity and temperature of the air and soil.

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Title: How to Grow and Care for Black Pepper at Home
Source: ThumbGarden
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