How much sunlight do pepper plants need?

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If you haven’t quite mastered the art and science of growing peppers yet, they can seem quite finicky. We’ve got you covered! Read on to learn about the sun and shade needs of peppers, plus what to do if the balance of your growing location isn’t quite ideal.

Do pepper plants like sun or shade?

Pepper plants thrive with a lot of sunlight in warm and sunny environments. However, they also appreciate a respite from the scorching afternoon heat during the hottest times of the day with up to 50% shade. 

It may seem complicated, but by balancing sunlight and shade, you can create an ideal environment for your pepper plants to flourish.

How many hours of sunlight do they need?

Mature pepper plants typically require 6 to 12 hours of sunlight daily to thrive. This categorizes them as “full sun” plants, meaning they need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. Adequate exposure to sunlight is crucial for pepper plants as it fuels the process of photosynthesis, enabling them to produce energy and vital nutrients for their growth.

However, it’s important to note that the specific sunlight requirements may vary slightly depending on the variety of peppers being grown. 

If you are starting pepper seedlings indoors using grow lights, providing them with 12-16 hours of light per day is recommended. This extended duration of light compensates for the lower intensity compared to natural sunlight and helps promote healthy growth during the early stages of development.

Is it possible to grow peppers in partial shade?

While peppers are known to thrive in full sun conditions, it is possible to grow them in partial shade, where they receive around 4 to 6 hours of sunlight per day. However, it’s important to note that peppers may face challenges, and their growth may be hindered in such conditions.

One study examined the effect of shading on bell peppers grown in greenhouses, finding that they produced the highest yield of marketable fruit when grown under 35% shade, showing an increase of up to 119% compared to plants grown in full sun (Díaz-Pérez, 2014). It can also help reduce the occurrence of sunscald, a condition where fruits get damaged or sunburned due to excessive sun exposure. This suggests that some level of shade can actually benefit pepper plants and enhance fruit production.

my pepper growing space with towering trees in the back

Because I live in a forest, my entire growing space receives less than 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. I have peppers growing in three different sections of my front and back yard, trying to find the maximum sunlight, but too much shade will be my biggest growing struggle.  

While growing peppers in partial shade is possible, it’s essential to closely monitor the plants for signs of stress or insufficient growth. Adjustments to watering, fertilization, and other care practices may be necessary to support their development in conditions with limited sunlight.

What happens if they don’t get enough sun?

Insufficient sunlight can adversely affect pepper plants’ ability to thrive and produce fruit. A study investigating the impact of shading on pepper plants grown in Texas revealed no statistically significant difference in the number or weight of fruit between plants grown in full sun and those grown under 50% shade. However, when exposed to 70% shade, the yield of pepper plants significantly decreased. Interestingly, plants grown at 50% and 70% shade were larger than those grown in full sun (Masabni et al., 2016).

If pepper plants are grown in full shade and receive little to no direct sunlight, they will experience stunted growth and struggle to produce any fruit. Sunlight plays a crucial role in the process of photosynthesis, which is essential for the production of energy and nutrients. Without adequate sunlight, pepper plants cannot generate sufficient energy to support their growth and fruit development.

Can peppers get too much sun?

Insufficient sunlight can have detrimental effects on pepper plants, but it’s important to note that excessive sun exposure can also pose challenges. While peppers require adequate sunlight for their growth, too much sun can result in specific issues that need to be addressed.

Peppers are susceptible to sunburn, which can affect the plant’s fruit and leaves. Sunburned areas may appear discolored, wilted, or scorched. In addition to sunburn, prolonged exposure to intense sunlight can lead to heat stress, causing symptoms like wilting, leaf curling, and overall reduced plant health.

It is worth noting that pepper seedlings are particularly sensitive to the sun. Properly hardening off the seedlings before transplanting them outdoors is essential to avoid sunburn. Gradually acclimating them to outdoor conditions by gradually increasing their exposure to sunlight over time will help develop their tolerance to the sun and reduce the risk of damage.

Signs that your peppers are getting too much sun

Signs that your peppers are getting too much sun include sun scald on leaves and fruit, where the fruit may develop soft or dark spots. Another indication is leaf wilting; in severe cases, leaf drop may occur.

What to do if your peppers are getting too much sun

If you notice that your pepper plants are receiving excessive sun exposure, there are steps you can take to alleviate the issue and provide them with the necessary shade.

One solution for peppers planted in the ground is to hang a 35-50% shade cloth over them. This material can be easily suspended above the plants, creating a partial shading effect that helps reduce the intensity of the sunlight reaching the leaves and fruit. The shade cloth can be attached to stakes or a frame to ensure it remains in place and provides the desired level of shade.

In the case of potted pepper plants, if they are getting too much sun, you can move them to a slightly shadier area. This could be a spot on your patio or near a tree or larger plant that offers some natural shade. By relocating the pots, you can adjust the amount of sunlight they receive and help protect the plants from excessive sun exposure.

Remember to monitor your pepper plants closely after implementing these shade-providing techniques. Regularly check for plant condition improvements, such as reduced wilting or sunburned spots on the leaves and fruit. Adjust the shading or relocation as needed to maintain an appropriate balance of sunlight and shade.

Understanding the sunlight requirements of pepper plants is vital for their successful growth and abundant harvest. Finding the right balance between sun and shade and implementing appropriate measures when needed can create an optimal environment for your peppers to thrive. So, embrace the power of sunlight, adapt to the needs of your plants, and enjoy the rewards of a flourishing pepper garden. 


Díaz-Pérez, J. C. (2014). Bell Pepper (capsicum annum L.) crop as affected by shade level: Fruit yield, quality, and postharvest attributes, and incidence of phytophthora blight (caused by phytophthora capsici leon.). HortScience, 49(7), 891–900.

Masabni, J., Sun, Y., Niu, G., & Del Valle, P. (2016). Shade effect on growth and productivity of Tomato and chili pepper. HortTechnology, 26(3), 344–350.

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