Anaheim pepper is a spicy, easy-growing perennial. If you are considering growing Anaheim peppers, this article is for you. You’ll find tons of information and great growing tips here from a master gardener!
Also known as Magdalena or California chilis, Anaheim peppers are flavorful enough to stand out among other ingredients, big enough to stuff them easily, and fresh enough that add a unique fresh flavor to any dish.
Anaheim chile peppers are part of the Capsicum genus, specifically belonging to the New Mexico peppers group cultivar; also part of this group, Hatch chilies. These peppers are not hot-hot, but they’re not mid like sweet bell peppers either; they have a little bit of heat.
On the Scoville Heat Unit scale (the scale that measures the capsaicin concentration in peppers), the Anaheim peppers have between 500 and 2,500, which is below the heat of a jalapeño pepper and just above a poblano pepper.
While they’re called Anaheim “peppers,” they’re botanically known as chilies. “Peppers” technically applies to the Piper genus plants, while “chili” refers to the Capsicum genus plants. While Anaheim peppers are packed with lots of flavor and few calories, they also contain different vitamins, especially vitamin C.
As a master gardener, I’ve grown many Anaheim peppers throughout the years and will share all my tips and tricks with you in this article. I recommend starting Anaheim peppers from seeds indoors about 6-8 weeks before the last frost date in your area. You can also get seedlings instead! Read on to learn everything you need to do to grow Anaheim peppers easily!
Botanical Name: Capsicum annuum ‘Anaheim’
Common Name: Anaheim pepper, New Mexico peppers, Magdalena, California chili
Plant Type: Perennial vegetable
Hardiness Zones: 11 – 12 (USDA)
Sun Exposure: Full sun
Soil Type: Rich, loamy, well-draining
Soil pH: 7.0 – 8.5
Maturity: 80 days (depending on variety)
Height: Up to 5 feet
Spacing: 18 inches
Planting Time: Spring, summer
Native Area: Caribbean, North and South America
Quick Guide: Planting, Growing & Caring for Anaheim Pepper
- Anaheim peppers need full sun to thrive and grow properly so make sure they receive 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight every day.
- They prefer sandy loam for soil with a pH of 7.0 to 8.5.
- To give your Anaheim pepper plants the best start, fertilize them with a balanced fertilizer before planting.
- Anaheim peppers are mild enough to be eaten raw, but they’re also great stuffed! Use them to make green salsa for your burritos or make cheese stuffed anaheim peppers for a delicious treat.
Anaheim Pepper Plant Care
Also known as ‘New Mexico chilies,’ The Anaheim pepper, particularly, is the result of farmer Emilio Ortega’s hard work. That’s right, the same Ortega of the Mexican food brand. Emilio brought seeds to Anaheim in the early 1900s and bred the mild pepper we know today.
If you’re a fan of spicy food, Anaheim peppers are a must-have in your garden. These versatile peppers can be used in a variety of dishes, from salsas to stir-fries. However, growing Anaheim peppers requires some specific care and attention.
The first step in growing healthy Anaheim chilies is choosing the right soil. They prefer sandy loam as soil. Check the soil’s acidity and adjust it to a 7.0 and 8.5 pH.
If you’re not sure about the pH level of your soil, you can purchase a soil test kit from your local garden center. Make sure the soil you use is rich in organic matter like compost or aged manure. This will help ensure healthy plant growth and plentiful harvests.
If your soil doesn’t meet these requirements, you can amend it with compost or other organic matter to ensure that it’s fertile and has the necessary nutrients to support your plants.
It’s also important to note that peppers are susceptible to soil-borne diseases, such as verticillium wilt and phytophthora root rot. To prevent these diseases, avoid planting your peppers in the same spot where you’ve grown peppers or other nightshade plants in the past.
The next important factor in Anaheim pepper plant care is water. These plants will need frequent watering, especially during hot, dry weather. However, it is important not to overwater them, as this can lead to root rot.
Aim to give your plants around 1-2 inches of water per week. If you’re not sure how much water your plants are getting, you can use a moisture meter to check the soil moisture level.
When watering your plants, make sure to water at the base of the plant, rather than on the leaves. This will help prevent fungal diseases. You can also mulch around the base of the plant to help retain moisture and prevent weeds.
Like tomatoes, onions, jalapeños, and most veggies, Anaheim peppers need sunlight to thrive and grow. It’s important to choose a site that receives full sun exposure (at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily) for optimal growth.
Temperature and Humidity
Anaheim peppers thrive in warm, dry weather. When planting, make sure to choose a location that gets plenty of sunlight and has good air circulation. These plants are not suited to humid environments, so make sure your growing area is well-ventilated. If you’re planting in a greenhouse, make sure to use fans to circulate the air.
If you live in a cooler climate, you may need to start your plants indoors and transplant them outside when temperatures warm up. Make sure to harden off your plants before transplanting them, by gradually exposing them to outdoor conditions over the course of a week or two.
To give your Anaheim pepper plants the best start, fertilize them with a balanced fertilizer before planting. You can also add bone meal or rock phosphate to provide phosphorus, which will help encourage root growth.
Once the plants have started to grow, you can continue to fertilize them every few weeks. Be sure to choose a fertilizer low in nitrogen to prevent excess vegetative growth and encourage fruit production.
When applying fertilizer, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Over-fertilizing can lead to burned roots and stunted growth. You can also use organic fertilizers like fish emulsion or compost tea to provide nutrients to your plants.
How to Use Anaheim Peppers
Once your California pepper harvest begins, you’ll want to find fun ways of using them. Anaheim peppers are mild enough to be eaten raw, but they’re also great stuffed.
Anaheim peppers register between 500-2500 heat units on the Scoville Scale, depending on the soil and light they received.
These peppers are among the most popular used to make Chile Rellenos (stuffed peppers), chicken tomato soup, rellenos casserole, and deep-fried rellenos. You can find way more Anaheim pepper recipes online, like stews, soups, and appetizers.
You can also experiment with it to make a green salsa for your next taco Tuesday night or use it in some delicious burritos. Consider using them to make cheese stuffed anaheim peppers that have been popular all over the internet lately!
Besides using it as a fresh ingredient, you can also enjoy Anaheim peppers by drying them into chili powder (also known as chile seco del norte), or turning it into fresh salsa or sauces.
Best Anaheim Peppers Cultivars to Consider Growing
There are many different cultivars of Anaheim peppers, each with unique characteristics that make them suitable for different growing conditions and uses. Here are some of the best cultivars to consider:
- ‘Big Jim’: These peppers are some of the largest in the Anaheim family, with a mild to moderate heat level. They are perfect for stuffing or using in Mexican dishes like chiles rellenos. ‘Big Jim’ peppers are also great for grilling or roasting, as their thick walls hold up well under high heat.
- ‘NuMex Heritage 6-4’: This cultivar is known for its uniform shape and size, making it a great choice for commercial growers. The ‘NuMex Heritage 6-4’ pepper has a mild heat level, and is perfect for use in salsas, sauces, and stir-fries. This cultivar is also great for pickling, as its uniform size makes it easy to pack in jars.
- ‘Joe Parker’: These peppers are a great choice for drying or roasting, with a medium heat level and thick walls. ‘Joe Parker’ peppers are perfect for making traditional New Mexican dishes like green chile stew or enchiladas. They are also great for adding a little bit of spice to soups and stews.
How to Plant and Grow Anaheim Peppers
How to Plant Anaheim Peppers from Seed
It’s easier to buy pepper seeds than to use ones you have collected from a previous plant. That’s because peppers cross-pollinate like you would not believe. Unless you’re cautious, any Anaheim pepper you have will likely cross-pollinate with plants nearby.
You can also buy seedlings, which is the smartest option if you want to get a head start on the active growing season or if you have counted days within the temperature range of your region.
Anaheim peppers are relatively simple to grow from seed, although it can take up to six weeks or more for the seedlings to grow big enough to be placed outside, so it’s best to plan ahead.
- Start your seeds indoors, around 6-8 weeks before the last expected frost date in your area. This will give your seedlings a head start and ensure that they are strong and healthy when you transplant them outside.
- Plant seeds ¼ inch deep in a seed-starting mix and water gently. Be sure to label your seed tray so you know which seeds are which. You don’t want to mix up your Anaheim pepper seeds with your tomato or cucumber seeds!
- Place the seed tray in a warm, well-lit location. Anaheim pepper seeds need a temperature above 79°F to germinate, so consider using a seedling heat mat to keep them warm. You can also use a grow light to provide additional light if you don’t have a sunny windowsill.
- To speed up the germination process, You can soak the seed for about eight hours before planting them. But ensure you don’t leave them in water for too long, as they can develop mold.
- Once the seedlings have emerged, increase air circulation and reduce watering to prevent damping off. Damping off is a fungal disease that can kill young seedlings, so it’s important to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. You can use a fan to increase air circulation and help prevent damping off.
- Water the medium thoroughly and keep it moist until the seeds germinate. Place the pots on a heat mat where they can receive at least eight hours of sunlight daily. If you can provide natural light, you can always use supplemental lighting and provide twelve to sixteen hours of artificial lighting daily.
- When the seedlings are around 3-4 inches tall and have several sets of leaves, they are ready to transplant outside. Choose a sunny location with well-draining soil. Harden off your seedlings by gradually exposing them to outdoor conditions over the course of a week. Then, plant them in the ground, spacing them about 18 inches apart.
How to Transplant Anaheim Peppers from Seedlings
If the temperature during daylight hours is below 60°F and 50°F during nighttime, do not put your seedlings outside yet, as they don’t do well and could die.
While some plants can stand cold temperatures, it is not the case for peppers. Keep your plant near a sunny window or purchase them until the weather is appropriate.
Once the weather is appropriate, prep the surrounding area. If your soil is not slightly loamy, sandy, and rich, you must amend it. Work lots of well-rotted compost and sand into the earth until it has a friable consistency and texture that will provide good drainage to the plant.
Dig a hole slightly larger than the root ball of the seedling. It is essential to dig a hole that is big enough to accommodate the entire root ball of the seedling.
Place the seedling in the hole and backfill it with soil, making sure to carefully pack it around the base of the plant. This will help to ensure that the roots are in contact with the soil and will prevent the plant from toppling over.
If you are going to grow multiple plants, space them about 18 inches apart each. Water well and moisten the soil evenly the first weeks after planting.
Also, apply a layer of mulch around the base of the plant to help retain moisture in the soil and prevent weeds from growing. Mulching also helps to regulate soil temperature, keeping the roots cool in hot weather and warm in cold weather.
How to Store Anaheim Peppers
There are a couple of ways to store these peppers if you’d like to save them for later. One way is to store them in the produce section of your fridge without a bag. You can also preserve their freshness by sealing them in a bag in the refrigerator. On average, these peppers last around one to two weeks in the refrigerator.
Common Pests and Plant Diseases for Anaheim Pepper
Unfortunately, Anaheim peppers are not immune to pests and plant diseases. They are vulnerable to a variety of common problems that can damage or kill the plant if left unchecked.
Aphids are tiny insects that can cause significant damage to your Anaheim pepper plants. They suck sap from the plant, which causes the leaves to yellow and the plant to become stunted. These pests can also transmit viruses from plant to plant, which can be devastating to your entire garden.
To prevent an aphid infestation, it is important to keep your plants healthy and well-nourished. You can also use natural predators like ladybugs to control the aphid population. If you notice an infestation, you can use insecticidal soap or neem oil to get rid of the pests.
Cutworms are another common pest that can damage your Anaheim pepper plants. These pests cut off young seedlings at the base, killing them before they have a chance to grow. They are most active at night and can be difficult to spot during the day.
To prevent cutworms, it is important to keep your garden free of debris and weeds, as they can provide a hiding place for the pests
Blossom end rot is a common disease that affects many types of peppers, including Anaheim peppers. This disease causes the bottoms of the peppers to turn black and mushy, often due to inconsistent watering. It can be caused by a calcium deficiency in the soil or by over-fertilization.
To prevent blossom end rot, it is important to water your plants consistently and evenly. You can also add calcium to the soil or use a fertilizer that is low in nitrogen and high in phosphorus and potassium.
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Melissa Pino is a biologist, master gardener, and regular contributor for Planet Natural. Melissa's work focuses on promoting environmentally-friendly practices, helping people create healthy gardens and finding ways to achieve overall health and wellness.