Propagating The Perfect Popper

The jalapeno popper is hugely popular as an appetizer, tailgate party treat and low carb snack in the United States. Available pre-prepared in grocery stores freezers everywhere, it might not occur to many that they could quickly and easily whip them up fresh with their own home grown peppers. You haven’t had a popper until you’ve tasted the real thing! Jalapenos are easy to grow in the backyard, outdoor containers and indoors in traditional or hydroponic grow rooms too.

Super Mild To Moy Caliente

Not all jalapeno plants are created equal though, and if you’re going to make poppers, you’ll want them on the mild side using oversize fruits because the stuffing is what really makes them so awesome. The harvesting of good sized fruits that have little crackling is the secret to a truly mild jalapeno. With the hybrid, Grande Jalapeno, you’ve got the perfect stuffing prospect. They’re massive! Maturing to 1.5″ wide and 4-4.5″ long with a widely rounded bottom – even picked in the mildest stage of maturity you’ve got a roomy interior that lets you pull out all the stops on your stuffing creativity.

A Specialty Pepper

You can’t get the Grande just anywhere. Seeds will be on the expensive side, and you can’t start your indoor garden crop with plants obtained via mail order. Who would want to at $3.00 each plus shipping? Still, it’s best to start your first crop from seed. After that, you can grow new crops from cuttings, which is the only way to ensure that you will always have huge jalapenos because this is a hybrid variety.

The problem with hybrids – be they fruit, vegetables or flowers, is that you won’t get a crop true to the parent from seed. It could turn out to be any one of the parent plants crossed to create what you grew originally. Starting new plants from cuttings means that you have to be super vigilant about plant health, or the last generation’s issues will cause you a problematic grow.

Cloning Jalapenos

Propagating any plant from cuttings, be they root cuttings, basal cuttings or stem cuttings, is the same as cloning. One thing that might have some people scratching their heads is that Capsicum or chile pepper plants are perennials. So why would you need to start a new crop? How large is your growing space? A huge mature chile is going to take up a lot of room. As it grows into more of a shrub in your indoor garden, it will begin to block the light from smaller plants and create shade. That is if you have adequate head room to accommodate something that tall. Jalapenos bear heavily in a short span of time, so sticking with smaller plants and starting over in a few months makes more efficient use of your available space.

  • Start with a lateral stem cutting, sliced off with part of the joint where it grows out of the main stems.
  • Use a fresh razor blade to cut to avoid any bruising or tissue separation.
  • Dip the cut end into cloning gel, coating it completely.
  • Stick the stem cutting into a rockwool cube prepared with 5.5 pH.
  • Place them in your hydroponics propagator with a mild nutrient solution.
  • In a week or so, the newly rooted cuttings will be ready to transfer to your regular system.

Under good grow lights, you will also find great results with regular potting soil, quality slow-release fertilizer and good draining containers to produce a never ending supply of versatile jalapenos indoors. That’s what its all about. Never running out of just picked chilis for fresh salsas, oodles of other recipes and last, but definitely not least… the well stuffed popper. Bacon wrapped, breaded or grilled in their own skin – a freshly picked and prepared popper makes the ones you buy frozen from the grocery store taste really sad.

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Tammy Clayton

Contributing Writer at Garden Culture Magazine

Tammy has been immersed in the world of plants and growing since her first job as an assistant weeder at the tender age of 8. Heavily influenced by a former life as a landscape designer and nursery owner, she swears good looking plants follow her home.