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How To Grow Peppers In 5 Gallon Buckets – Grow Any Pepper Plant, Anywhere!

If you are looking for the easiest way to grow all kinds of delicious peppers this year – and have amazing yields without having to worry about endless hours working in the garden, you need to try growing your pepper plants in 5 gallon buckets!

Not only does growing in 5 gallon buckets eliminate many of the tedious garden chores that are both time consuming and back-breaking to gardeners, it also lets you plant sooner and harvest earlier. Even better, it can make watering and fertilizing a breeze too.

Growing in 5 gallon buckets continues to grow in popularity each and every year. It allows those who might not have the space or time for a big garden the opportunity to grow, and it’s also a great way for gardeners with physical restrictions to enjoy it as well. But when it comes to growing great pepper plants anywhere, the 5 gallon bucket simply can’t be beat!

peppers in 5 gallon buckets
From big bell peppers to tiny hot peppers, 5 gallon buckets are perfect for growing any type of pepper plant.
Why 5 Gallon Buckets Are Perfect For Growing Peppers

With plenty of depth and circumference for soil space and growing area, 5 gallon buckets can handle the root structure of any pepper plant, from large bell and roasting peppers, to jalapenos, banana pepper and more.

Buckets also make it easy to support a pepper plant. You can grow them in front of trellis or simply bury a stake in the soil when planting. But the advantages don’t stop there!

Peppers love to grow in warm soil. Quite often, when planted in the garden early in the growing season, pepper plants grow poorly in the cool soil. But the soil in a bucket planter can warm quickly. Because the soil is contained and above ground, the sun’s rays quickly heat the soil. And when it does, pepper plants respond with fast growth.

With pepper growing success in mind, here is a look at how to plant your peppers in buckets, and how to properly care for them to grow an amazing crop of peppers, without hardly working up a sweat!

How To Grow Peppers In 5 Gallon Buckets

Creating A Planter From A 5 Gallon Bucket

Turning a 5 gallon bucket into the perfect pepper growing container is extremely easy. It’s important to start by selecting a bucket that carries the BPA free or food grade label. This ensures the plastic is safe and will not leach any dangerous or harmful chemical into your plants.

holes in 5 gallon buckets
Drilling a few holes in the bottom and the lower side will keep water from pooling at the bottom.

Once you have your bucket, it’s time to drill a few holes for drainage. Peppers love moisture in their roots, but if they sit in water, they will struggle to grow. To create good drainage, drill four to six holes in the bottom of your bucket.

To create each hole, use a 1/2″ or 3/4″ drill bit and slowly drill through the plastic. Drill slowly to avoid splitting or cracking the buckets.

In addition, drill four more equally spaced holes around the bottom sides of the bucket. Drill these about 1 inch from the bottom. These holes allow for excess moisture to weep out, especially if the bottom holes become blocked. Now it’s time to plant!

Filling Your Bucket For Growing – Drainage Material

Now that your holes are in place, it is time to fill the bucket for growing success. That all starts by adding a bit of drainage material at the bottom. This can be anything from gravel or pebbles, to small twigs or bark mulch chips.

Without adding this to the bottom, the soil can plug up the holes and water can become trapped. This is a great idea to add in any pot or container you grow in to allow water to easily drain away.

Fill the bottom of your bucket up with about 3″ of material for best results. We like using wood chips because they are light and easy to find. They also break down in the soil over time and can be added into a compost pile at the end of the growing season.

Filling Your Buckets With Potting Soil – How To Garden In 5 Gallon Buckets

Pepper plants need fertile, loose and well draining soil to grow best. Loose soil will allow their roots to expand all through the bucket. And the more roots, the more energy and moisture pepper plants can absorb to grow and produce.

A good all-purpose potting soil will work here, but to make it even better, its a great idea to add in some compost and worm castings. Both of the powerful, all-natural ingredients add serious power to the soil. And they also lighten it up even more in the process.

For each 5 gallon bucket you plant, add in 4 to 6 cups of compost and 1 cup of castings. At 14 inches high, and 12″ in diameter, you will need about .75 cubic feet of potting soil to fill each bucket. A good rule of thumb is that for each 2 cubic foot bag of potting soil, you can fill (3) 5 gallon buckets.

healthy soil

How to Plant Your Peppers In 5 Gallon Buckets

Once your buckets are filled – it’s time to for planting. When planting, plant deep. Bury at least 1/3rd of the plant in the soil / compost / worm casting mix. This will allow it to develop deep roots. That can be important especially for keeping your pepper plant from drying out too quickly.

It’s extremely important to support your pepper plants right from the start. If you will be using a stake in the 5 gallon bucket, add before you put dirt in. Place the bottom of the stake all the way to the bottom of the bucket.

This will help hold the stake firmly in place. As for how tall your stake should be, it will depend on the size of the peppers you are growing. For large bell pepper plants, use a 4′ stake. For smaller peppers like jalapeno and cayenne, a 3′ stake will be more than enough.

Although the buckets can be left to grow in the open, covering them or placing them in a diy planter box can make them quite attractive. It also can allow for trellises and supports to easily be attached for tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and other plants that need a bit of support.

raised beds from wood
These easy to make 5 gallon bucket planters make growing any vegetables or flowers in buckets easy and attractive.

We use our DIY bucket planters that can hold (2) or (4) buckets at a time to create attractive planters that look great on the patio, or out in the yard! See: 5 Gallon Bucket Planter Plans

Watering & Fertilizing – How To Grow Peppers In 5 Gallon Buckets


When it comes to watering your pepper plants, they will need to water than in a traditional garden setting. Usually, a single watering each day is ideal.

The important thing is to not over-water. When watering, water deep to allow for the roots to grow deep. Check the soil about 3 inches down for moisture. If it is dry, it’s time to water. If not, then back off to allow the buckets to drain excess water.

Fertilizing – How To Grow Peppers In 5 Gallon Buckets

Fertilizing is a must for consistent, strong growth of your pepper plants. No matter how rich and fertile the soil is at the start of the growing season, a pepper plant will consume much of the soil’s resources as it matures.

The real key to success when fertilizing pepper plants is to provide a slow, steady diet of nutrients. Giving your peppers too much power too quickly will promote too much foliage, all at the expense of blooms and fruit.

For best results, fertilize your pepper plants every 2 weeks with compost tea, worm casting tea, or a light solution of organic liquid fertilizer.

Harvesting – How To Grow Peppers In 5 Gallon Buckets

Perhaps one of the best features of growing pepper plants in buckets and containers is that at the end of the season, clean-up couldn’t be easier. Instead of having to clear an entire garden, you can simply pull your plants and empty your buckets!

The plant and soil material from the buckets are the perfect addition to a compost pile. As it incorporates with the additional materials in the pile, it recharges and rejuvenates over the winter. As next year rolls around, it can be incorporated back into your buckets along with fresh potting soil. It truly is the perfect circle of revitalizing soil with compost!

Before putting your buckets in storage for the winter months, take time to rinse them out thoroughly. It is also a great idea to wipe them down with a weak bleach / water solution to kill off any bacteria that might be present.

Here is to growing vegetables in 5 gallon buckets, and to growing a garden no matter where you live!

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This Is My Garden is a garden website created by gardeners, for gardeners. Jim and Mary Competti have been writing gardening, DIY and recipe articles and books and speaking for over 15 years from their 46 acre Ohio farm. They publish three articles every week, 52 weeks a year. Sign up today to follow via email, or follow along!