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Pepper seedlings are rewarding to grow, but it’s frustrating when you can’t get the strong stalks and abundant yields you were hoping for. Lucky for you, there’s an easy way to get good side growth and strong stems! All you need is a pair of scissors and a little patience.

Watch this video for the how-to or read below for the instructions:

1. Count the Leaves

Your pepper plants should have at least 8-10 leaves before you prune them.

2. Grab a Trusted Pair of Scissors (or use your fingers) and Top off the Plant

Count the leaves from the bottom up, and cut off the last 2-4 leaves. They should be leaf numbers 7, 8, 9, and 10. I show you how to count pepper leaves in the video.

Top off the leaves and have faith that your peppers will be better for it. The pepper plant will look kind of sad, but it will soon grow into a strong plant with sturdy stalks, lots of side growth, and loads of blooms that will soon turn into an abundance of peppers.

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3. If the Pepper Flowers Indoors, Pinch it again

Sometimes the pepper will start flowering indoors before it’s time to set it out in the vegetable garden for the year. If that happens, cut off the blooms. Sure, it’s nice to have a pepper growing in your house, but you’ll get more peppers in the long run if you cut off all the blooms until it’s time to harden off the pepper for life outdoors.

That’s it!

For more pepper resources, check out my favourite easy-to-grow pepper varieties and the 5 secrets to beautiful peppers.


Green thumbs aren’t just given out at birth. They’re a combination of learning about gardening and trial and error. If you wish you knew more about gardening and had more confidence in your abilities, you need the Growing Roots Gardening Guide

It’s an e-book plus 6 bonuses. Everything you need to go from complete garden newb to confident gardener in one growing season. Get all the details of what’s inside here. 

Happy gardening!

Kristen Raney

Kristen Raney

Kristen is a former farm kid turned urban gardener who owns the popular gardening website, Shifting Roots.  She is obsessed with growing flowers and pushing the limits of what can be grown in her zone 3b garden.  She also loves to grow tomatoes, but oddly enough, dislikes eating them raw.

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Hi, I'm Kristen and I help new gardeners learn to grow their own vegetables and beautify their yards. I also share recipes that use all that delicious garden produce. Grab a coffee (and your gardening gloves) and join me for gardening tips, simple recipes, and the occasional DIY, all from the lovely city of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

P.S. First time gardener? You'll want to download the quick start gardening guide below!