How to Grow Black Pepper Plant at Home: A Complete Beginner's Guide

black pepper plant
Black Pepper

Blog updated on June 8, 2022

I love freshly ground pepper, especially the mixture of white, red, and black beans which have a slightly different hue than black peppercorns. 

Black pepper is expensive but there are pretty good reasons for being expensive; They have been traded between East and West for centuries, were known to the ancient Greeks and Romans, and served as currency in some European countries. 

This prized spice stimulates salivation and the production of gastric juices and is a revered food flavoring throughout the world. Other benefits of black peppers have hordes of health benefits, such as increasing nutrient absorption, improving heart rate and blood pressure, promoting healthy cell growth and digestion, acting as an anti-inflammatory, and enhancing the immune system. 

Piper nigrum, or pepper plant, is a tropical plant cultivated for its black, white, and red peppercorns. The three colors of the peppercorn are simply different stages of the same peppercorn. Black peppercorns are immature nuts or drupes of the peppercorns plant, while white peppercorns are made from the inside of the ripe fruit.

Wouldn't it be great if you could grow a black pepper plant in your backyard? But the question is - whether it is possible to grow peppercorns at home? Well, you will be delighted to know that it is very much possible to grow a black pepper plant at home.

Black pepper plants are actually vines that are most often propagated through vegetative cuttings and sandwiched between shade-grown trees, such as coffee. The conditions for growing black pepper plants require high temperatures, frequent and heavy rains, and well-drained soil, all of which are met in the countries of India, Indonesia, and Brazil, the largest commercial exporters of peppercorns.

Black pepper or peppercorns is the most widely used spice in the world and when combined with salt it can be found on almost every household table in the United States.

The plant is native to southern India, loves the warm tropics, and has been cultivated for over 2000 years. In temperate climates, Black Pepper makes an excellent houseplant.

Black Pepper

Spice up your life with a pepper plant

The black pepper plant is a tropical vine from South Asia that produces chains of small round fruits. By selecting the time of harvest and the processing method, all four types of peppercorns (black, white, green, and red) can be harvested from the same plant.

Piper nigrum flowers freely during the summer months and the fruits ripen the following year. Young plants can take 3-4 years to flower, but even modest-sized plants can produce hundreds of peppercorns.

Here are some things to know about growing your own black pepper plants so that you can soon grind your own peppercorns for fresh, aromatic pepper.

Peppercorns fruit

The fruits of green and red peppercorns are often found on the plant at the same time. Red fruit is the fruit that ripens. The peppercorn can be picked if the color is green or red, depending on the type of peppercorn you want. If you want black or green pepper as a final color, harvest the peppercorn when it is green. If you want white or red pepper, harvest the peppercorn when it is red.

Growing conditions of black pepper

Black pepper has a habit of tangling, so it grows well in a basket or pot with a stake or trellis for support. Place the stems on the trellis for the plant to climb easily.

Black pepper loves extremely hot and humid climates where the temperature never drops below 60 F (16 C). It is a vine with beautiful heart-shaped leaves (like the betel leaf), it grows on the support of hanging aerial roots and produces small white flowers in the shape of spikes in summer before bearing fruit.

USDA zones: 10-11

Difficulty: Difficult

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Light requirements of the peppercorns plant

In its native South Indian habit, black pepper is an understory plant that climbs trees and grows in dappled light. When grown as a houseplant, it needs moderate light in an east or west window and should be placed directly on the windowsill or near its light source if grown in a lighted garden. 

It benefits from some direct sunlight, but not the midday sun. Like other tropical plants, black pepper can be grown outdoors during the summer months and brought indoors during the winter.

Put the plant in the shade, as direct sunlight can damage the plant. If planting in a sunny area, use a shade cloth that filters the sunlight by at least 50%. If growing in a cool climate, provide full sun.

The ideal temperature for the black pepper plant

If you are looking to optimize your flowering and fruiting, the ideal is to provide daytime temperatures above 70 ° F (20 ° C). Black pepper grows best in temperatures above 60 ° F (15 ° C).

black pepper plant
Black Pepper

How to make your peppercorns plant bloom

The flowers begin to grow at the nodes of the leaves of the new growth. The small white flowers form hanging spikes and then small round green peppercorns form in chains, which eventually ripen to red. 

Growth slows in the winter, but it will fruit and flower throughout the year. The pepper plant can produce a large number of peppercorns in a pot as small as 8 inches.

Fertilizing your black pepper plant

Black pepper needs low to moderate fertilization with a balanced fertilizer. There are two ways to fertilize the pepper plant. First, you can use a soluble or liquid fertilizer applied every two weeks when watering. Or you can use granular organic fertilizer and cover the plant once a month. 

Covering means spraying the fertilizer on the soil and every time you water, a little fertilizer is released. A note of caution: don't over-fertilize your black pepper plant. 

We use this general rule of thumb: Increase the fertilizer if your plant is growing in lots of light and high temperatures. If your pepper plant is grown in lower light and temperature levels, decrease the fertilizer. During the winter months, stop fertilizing the plant until warmer temperatures and higher light levels resume in spring.

Black spots on the leaf of the peppercorns plant

Spots on the back of the peppercorn plant that leave black spots on the back of the pepper leaves are totally normal. They are small crystalline balls that contain sugars called exudates. Over time, these balls turn black. They are sometimes mistaken for insects. They are not. Do not try to remove them. They are part of the normal physiology of the plant and do not harm it.

Root disease of the black pepper plant

If your growing conditions are too cool and humid, then your pepper plant may be susceptible to root disease. The best way to prevent this problem is to grow the plant in a terracotta pot and allow the soil to dry out between waterings and ensure daytime temperatures are above 70 ° F and nighttime temperatures do not drop below 60 ° F.

Pests of black pepper plants

Pepper has few insect pests. Mealybug is the main culprit, but only if there are other infected plants nearby. Black pepper is a hardy tropical fruit plant. Makes a great hanging basket or attractive container plant with a stake or trellis for the plant to climb on. 

The thrill of harvesting your own peppercorns and grinding your own black pepper makes Piper nigrum a highly sought after and loved plant for the home fruit orchard.


You can grow it from seed, but make sure they are fresh as they are viable for a very short period. To propagate from seed, fill the container with a quality potting mix that contains a good amount of organic matter. 

Use your finger to poke holes, each 1/2 inch deep and about 1 to 1.5 inches apart. Drop one seed into each hole, then cover it with soil. Water the seeds frequently and keep the soil moist.

Note: You can also propagate it from cuttings.


Mix compost and coarse sand into the soil before planting. Make a hole in the ground and plant the seedlings or plants at the same depth as above. Pack the soil tightly around the base of the plant to keep it in the correct position and water well.
If planting in pots, use a pot that is large enough as black pepper plants have extensive root systems.

Requirements for a growing black pepper plant

black pepper plant
Black Pepper


When planting the pepper plant, always remember to choose a location that remains humid and where the temperature is constantly maintained between 75 and 85 Fahrenheit (24-30 C).
However, the pepper plant can tolerate temperatures between 50 F-104 F (10-40 C).


Black pepper plants do best in fertile, medium clay soils that retain slight moisture. Good drainage is always the essential need when growing potted black pepper or in soil. Flooded soil can harm the plant. The pH level of the soil could be between 5.5 and 7, add lime if the soil is too acidic and sulfur if it is alkaline.


Be sure to give the pepper plant plenty of water to keep the soil slightly moist at all times, not allowing it to dry out between watering periods.

Black pepper plant care


The peppercorn plant loves moisture, the more the better. To do this, spray the plant often with soft water. If you are growing black pepper in pots, place them in a saucer filled with water, this will also increase the humidity level.


Mulch organic matter to prevent evaporation and weeds.


You can harvest black, white, or green peppers from a single plant. The color depends on the different degrees of ripening.

The pepper fruit is harvested before maturity and dried in the sun. After drying, it becomes wrinkled and black.

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