Easy methods to Plant, Develop, and Take care of Shishito Peppers

When you bite into a blistered ‘Shishito’ pepper with salt and pepper, there is a chance it surprises you with slight spiciness! Most ‘Shishito’ peppers will be very mild, from 0 to 200 Scoville units; occasionally, a fruit sprouts with the heat of a mild jalapeño.

The first time I tried this variety, I didn’t believe some of the fruits could be mild, while a few contained considerable heat! After eating a dozen, though, I bit into one of the spicy ones. It filled my mouth with a warm sensation, and I quickly reached for my water glass; to my surprise, the spiciness faded quickly. Before I knew it, I was popping more ‘Shishito’ chiles in my mouth. 

Use them as you would any other variety—they are versatile in the kitchen. ‘Shishitos’ are one of the most flavorful specimens. They taste decadently fresh, especially when you blister them in olive oil with salt and pepper. This variety mixes well in salsa, soups, and stews; the mild flavor lends well to fermented goods. 


Close up of a pile of ripe Shishito peppers, which are slender, wrinkled and light green in color.

Plant Type

Frost-sensitive perennial, grown as an annual


Capsicum annuum ‘Shishito’

Watering Requirements


Pests & Diseases

Aphids, whiteflies, pepper weevil, blossom-end-rot, root rot, tobacco mosaic virus

Soil Type

Fertile loam with good drainage

Hardiness Zones

Anywhere as an annual, zones 9 and above as a perennial

What Is It?

The pepper plant is characterized by its vibrant green, slightly puckered peppers amidst lush, deep green leaves.
Traders brought peppers to Japan, leading to unique varieties.

The ‘Shishito’ variety is a descendant of Capsicum annuum species from the Americas. Portuguese traders hauled peppers to Japan, where they traded them for other goods. Growers in Japan then took them, bred them, and created unique varieties that have since spread across the globe. ‘Shishito’ is one of them.

Native Area

This pepper plant boasts elongated, twisted peppers and broad, shiny green leaves.Originating in Japan, this variety thrives in sunny, humid climates.

Although the Capsicum annuum species are originally native to the Americas, ‘Shishito’ first sprouted in Japan. It prefers warm, hot summers with lots of direct sunlight and airflow. Japan is a maritime country, and its proximity to the ocean leads to lots of moisture falling on the land. This excess moisture hydrates ‘Shishito’ plants while they bask in the sun.


Close-up of ripening green pepper against a blurred background of green foliage in the garden.Compact plants produce abundant, flavorful peppers in various stages of ripeness.

Like other species of Capsicum annuum, ‘Shishito’ blooms white star-shaped blossoms. These are bisexual or “perfect” flowers, and they are self-pollinating. Peppers, like eggplants and tomatoes, prefer to cross-pollinate with other plants—they self-pollinate when there are no other partners to mingle with. 

‘Shishito’ plants are nice and compact, reaching maximum heights of two to three feet in maturity. Although they look like cute little adults, they produce fruits as if they’re ten feet tall! One plant creates dozens of chiles during its lifetime. 

‘Shishito’ fruits elongate to two to four inches long. They’re tastiest when green and have slightly wrinkled yellow-green skin that ripens red. Red fruits are edible, although they lack the satisfying crunch of the green ones. Pick both and try them yourself to see which you prefer!


Close-up of a gardener with a trowel planting a young pepper seedling in the garden.‘Shishito’ thrives in beds and containers.

Due to their compact nature, ‘Shishito’ plants thrive in containers and raised beds. They tuck in neatly under taller plants and flourish in most garden settings. Choose a spot in full sun with occasional airflow. They appreciate moist, fertile soil—when the ground is loose loam, their roots creep deep below the surface and anchor the plant. 

Amend clay or sandy soil with a healthy helping of compost or a similar organic amendment. Compost inoculates the dirt with bacteria, fungi, and critters like worms and bugs. Over time, consistent doses transform sandy or clay soil into humus-rich loam.

Growing From Seed

Close-up of sprouted seedlings in a seed starter tray producing thin, upright stems with pairs of narrow green cotyledons.Begin pepper seeds indoors to gain an early growing advantage.

Germinate ‘Shishito’ seeds indoors a month or two before your last average frost date. Peppers require long growing seasons to produce ample amounts of fruit, and giving them a head start indoors allows them ample time to mature.

Start by preparing 5 inch pots—fill them with potting soil and place them on a seed germination heat mat. Pepper seeds sprout at temperatures between 70°–90°F (21-32°C), and a heat mat regulates the soil between these levels. Plant seeds ¼ inch deep into the filled pots, and water well. 

While they mature, seedlings appreciate bright light. Situate them under a windowsill with direct light for six to eight hours daily. In dark homes, try using grow lights! These lights have special frequencies that mimic sunlight. Hook them up to a timer with an eight to twelve-hour on and twelve to sixteen-hour off cycle. 

Site Preparation

Close-up of a gardener loosening soil in a raised bed with a hoe.
Prepare your soil well to ensure robust pepper growth later.

A month or two later, you’re ready to prepare the planting site by amending the soil. The dirt is where your plants put down roots and live for the summer; make it a cozy home in their early life for bountiful harvests later in the growing season. 

‘Shishito’ appreciates fertile, well-draining, airy loam. Where there is sand or compact clay, mix in compost or a similar amendment like leaf mold, mulch, or decaying organic matter. Aim to let the site sit for at least a month before planting—during this time, the microbes colonize the soil. If you’re rushing to transplant, blend compost into the planting hole to jump-start your plants’ growth.

To grow ‘Shishito’ in containers, find a pot of a decent size. It needs at least five gallons of space in grow bags or a container 8” deep and 16” wide. The bigger the pot, the less water it needs to stay moist. 


Close-up of a gardener's hand removing a pepper seedling from a starter tray filled with young pepper seedlings with slender green stems and green, ovate leaves.Transplant when temperatures ensure steady growth and protection from frost.

After all danger of frost has passed in your area, transplant seedlings once daytime temperatures are at least 70°F (21°C) and nighttime temperatures are at least 55°F (13°C). ‘Shishito’ halts its growth when the weather dips, and transplanting it too early delays harvests. It is better to play it safe than sorry when it comes to pepper transplanting.

A cold frame or similar structure maintains warmth during cold nights in areas with late frosts. If you decide to transplant early, set up a cold frame or hoop house for the plants while they acclimate.

Dig a hole twice as deep and wide as the rootball for transplanting into raised beds or the ground. Backfill the hole with the soil and compost (or a similar amendment) until there is enough room for the plant’s trunk to sit at ground level. Place the specimen inside the hole, and fill the sides around it with amended soil. Water well, then add soil again if it sinks below ground level. 

In containers with fresh dirt, the potting soil is already light and airy, so transplanting is incredibly simple. Dig a hole as big as the pepper rootball, place the plant in the hole, and fill it until the soil covers the rootball. Water well, and place an organic mulch on top to keep the soil moist and protected

You may fertilize plants at transplanting if the soil is low in nutrients. After the plants establish themselves, apply a dose of liquid or powder organic fertilizer according to the label’s instructions. 

How to Grow

As garden plants, ‘Shishito’ develops similarly to eggplants; they’re upright and bushy, and they appreciate staking or caging for support. Offer them full sun, fertile loam, and ample water, and they’ll reward you with abundant harvests from summer through autumn.


Close-up of ripening slender, twisted shishitos in full sun, among dark green, ovate leaves.Plant in ample sunlight, ensuring robust growth and fruiting.

‘Shishito’ requires full sun with six to eight hours of daily direct sunlight. Whether in containers or on the ground, your peppers thrive when they receive sufficient light and warmth.

In part sun and full shade areas, plants produce fewer fruit and flowers than they do when they grow under direct sunlight. In warmer climates, some afternoon shade will protect your plants from scalding. Otherwise, try caring for ‘Shishito’ in a container and move it to a full-sun location if you have shady beds. That way you have happy chile plants and a proper shade garden for lettuce, herbs, and leafy greens.  


Close-up of a woman spraying water on a pepper plant growing in a wooden raised bed in a sunny garden using a spray bottle.
Water regularly to keep soil moist.

‘Shishito’ guzzles water regularly; like bell peppers and jalapeños, this variety requires frequent soil moisture. It takes up the excess irrigation and injects it directly into its fruits as nutrient-rich nectar. Maintain a balance though—too much water and they’re prone to root rot and similar fungi. I like to water once the top layer of soil dries out to ensure I don’t over-water or under-water.

I recommend using the finger test to see if your chiles need water. Dip your pointer finger as deep into the soil as it goes, and pull it out. Hold off on watering for a day or two if you sense moisture on top. If the soil is dry an inch or more down, water the site until moist but not soggy. The dirt should feel like a wrung-out sponge when you grasp a clump.

Container-grown ‘Shishito’ plants may need water once or twice a day during the peak heat of summer. Their above-ground roots are susceptible to drying out and require extra moisture to stay cool. Use the finger test or a soil moisture meter to determine how thirsty your chiles are, and water well when the soil is dry.


Pouring fresh, loose dark brown soil from one hand to the other against a blurred background of a garden bed.
Prepare nutrient-rich soil for optimal pepper growth and health.

Proper moisture levels stem from using nutrient-rich, porous, and free-draining soil. These conditions ensure excess moisture leaches out readily—conversely, they also keep moisture trapped beneath the soil when temperatures soar above 90°F (32°C).

Packed clay is too thick for pepper roots to punch through, and sand dries out quicker than the plants can pull up moisture. Amend clay and sand with compost or a similar organic amendment. As mentioned above, green plant clippings, leaf mold, and compost amend the soil while decomposing; they add life, structure, and porosity.

Amending soil takes time—if you are planting today, add nutrients and structure to the soil at planting. Pour some compost (or a similar amendment) mixed with a half-dose of organic fertilizer into the hole before transplanting. This offers a nutrient-rich pocket for the root ball while the rest of the area becomes more hospitable.

Temperature and Humidity

The shishito pepper plant features slender, twisted peppers and abundant, verdant foliage.
Robust flavor and growth result from plenty of sun and good airflow.

Warm temperatures help the fruits develop their flavor to the fullest. Without hot weather, peppers may taste watery and lackluster. 

Ensure warm temperatures by situating ‘Shishito’ where it receives six to eight hours of direct sunlight—in cool summer zones, try placing your plants along a south-facing wall in full sun. The wall, fence, or barrier traps heat at the end of the day and creates a pocket of warmth. 

This variety enjoys occasional airflow; it helps the plants regulate their temperature, and it prevents diseases that thrive in stagnant conditions. Sites with full sun generally have good airflow as they are open enough for direct sunlight to penetrate. If airflow is inconsistent, prune the plant’s lower branches. When the wind blows through, it’ll flow along the ground and cycle the air around your ‘Shishito.’

Like other varieties, this type is frost-sensitive. Protect plants from cold nights, freezing weather, and snow. Some simple protections are a cold frame, greenhouse plastic, or a humidity dome for small plants.


A gardener wearing green gloves with a colorful pattern applies granular fertilizer to young pepper seedlings in a garden bed.Feed with organic fertilizer for strong growth and fruiting.

‘Shishito’ feeds on nutrients under the soil during its lifetime. Sites with loamy, fertile, and porous soil require no additional fertilizer. Areas with low fertility or poor soil quality benefit from the extra boost of fertilizer.

To fertilize, feed after plants establish themselves and before they produce fruits and flowers. Apply one or two regular doses of an organic fertilizer low in nitrogen and high in phosphorus and potassium.


Close-up of a gardener's hand pinching off a small new white flower on a pepper plant in the garden.Support and occasional pruning keep peppers healthy and productive.

‘Shishito’ needs little maintenance. It enjoys growing up a stake, trellis, or cage, as it appreciates the extra support.

This type may benefit from pruning if it is overly bushy or sprouts crowded growth. The leaves up top shade out the fruits and flowers below. Prune a few top leaves as needed to allow sunlight to reach fruits on the interior. Cut less than one-third off at any time to avoid shocking the plant.

Near the end of the growing season, fall frost approaches and threatens the fruit ripening process. Cover plants on cold nights with a cold frame or similar structure, and hard-prune them. Hard pruning convinces the cultivars to redirect their energy towards fruit ripening—to do this, cut all stems above ripening fruit and remove a third of the leaves. Pinch off new growth like flowers, leaves, and sprouts.


Let’s say you’d like to continue growing peppers through the fall or would like to make more plants during the summer. There are two easy methods to multiply your crop: cuttings and seeds.


Three pepper cuttings are planted in plastic pots for propagation.Propagate from stem cuttings for quick new plants.

Before ‘Shishito’ creates seed-filled peppers, propagate by taking stem cuttings. Like tomatoes, they root easily with the right treatment. To start, take six-inch stem cuttings with two or more leaf junctions.

Strip the cuttings of their lower leaves and cut the top leaves in half. Then, prepare 5-inch pots filled with moist potting soil. Stick one cutting into each pot, and place them all under dappled shade. For higher rooting success, add a humidity dome atop the cuttings. 

Within two to six weeks, your cuttings should sprout roots. Tug on them softly to see if they’re ready; if they offer resistance, they’ve rooted!

Saving Seeds

Close-up of a man's hands collecting seeds from a cut red chili pepper using a knife against the background of a wooden cutting board.
Save seeds from mature peppers for next year’s garden bounty.

Participate in your garden ecosystem by saving open-pollinated seeds you grew yourself. Saving seeds ensures you have a supply of ‘Shishito’ for next year. Not only do you save money by saving seeds, but you also have a chance of discovering a new variety

Seed saving starts with fully ripened peppers. Green, immature fruits have seeds inside, but they are immature. To save seeds, leave a few peppers on the plant to ripen into their red color. Once ripened, harvest them and take the seeds out. 

Clean the seeds under running water and place them on a towel to dry for 24 hours. Then, store them in an airtight container in a dark and cool location of your house. Label the jar so you know what variety is in it. Come springtime. You’ll have a ready supply of ‘Shishito’ seeds before catalogs offer them! 

Harvesting and Storage

Close-up of a woman's hand picking a green, wrinkled pepper from a bush in a sunny garden.
Harvest and enjoy these fresh or preserved for meals year-round.

Harvest green or red peppers continuously as they form. Picking consistently urges ‘Shishito’ to produce more fruits and flowers. This type has thin stems, and herbal snips cut them neatly without causing additional damage. Using snips or something similar, cut fruits off their stems a centimeter or two above the fruit, leaving the green top attached to the pepper. 

Store your fresh harvest in the refrigerator for two to three weeks or in the freezer for a year. Drying ‘Shishito’ peppers allows them to keep longer. Air dry by hanging them near a window, or use a food dehydrator. Stow the dried fruits in airtight glass jars in a cool, dark location like a pantry. They’ll stay flavorful for a year or more!

My favorite way to prepare ‘Shishitos’ is to sauté them in oil with salt and pepper. This simple recipe never fails and creates a delicious appetizer for barbeques, parties, and dinners. Blister them for even more flavor. You can also use these fruits in soups, stews, and chilis. 

Common Problems

Sometimes, ‘Shishito’ specimens experience pests or diseases when unhappy. When thirsty, hungry, or shaded, your plants become targets for viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Pests flock to sick plants as they sprout softer leaves that are easier to chew than strong ones. To help diagnose your ‘Shishito,’ ensure it has all the necessary resources.

Yellow Leaves

Close-up of a pepper plant producing bright green, crinkled peppers nestled among large, smooth leaves turning yellow due to improper care.Yellowing pepper leaves signal stress.

Chiles yellow their leaves in response to cold, extreme heat, and irrigation irregularities. During fall and winter, yellow leaves are a pepper’s normal response to freezing temperatures. ‘Shishito’ is not frost tolerant; it dies after exposure to consistently cold weather below 50°F (10°C). 

If your plant has leaves early in spring or summer, it is most likely due to root rot, thirst, or improper light exposure. Place specimens in full sun and keep their soil moist but not soggy.


Close-up of a pepper plant attacked by a swarm of tiny, soft-bodied, pale green aphid insects.Protect plants from pests with covers and natural predators.

A few pests love munching on pepper fruits, leaves, and flowers:

  • Aphids
  • Flea Beetles
  • Whiteflies
  • Pepper Weevils

Keep most of these pests away with a row cover or hoop house. Strong blasts of water also work well—apply as often as needed until the pests disappear. 

To prevent pepper weevils from setting up shop, discard any rotten or overripe fruit. Weevils thrive where there is lots of decaying material. Harvest consistently, and remove any fruits that fall on the soil. 

Most plant pests have plant predators that feed on them. If you have a small infestation, try leaving them be and see if any aphid wasps, ladybugs, or other bug predators swoop in to help—let nature do the work! Or plant companions that invite these beneficial insects into your garden for good.

Diseases and Conditions

The pepper fruit affected by blossom end rot exhibits a dark, sunken, and leathery spot at the blossom end.
Protect from diseases with proper watering and sunlight management.

Some diseases, like root rot, blossom-end rot, and powdery mildew, affect this variety. Avoid root rot and similar root afflictions by maintaining proper moisture levels. Powdery mildew occurs in humid, warm conditions, especially where there is shade. Prevent it by situating plants under full sun. Prune away damaged foliage as it crops up to prevent the spread. 

Blossom-end rot is most often an effect of low calcium content in the dirt from irregular watering or improper pH levels. When ‘Shishito’ has the right soil and still experiences blossom-end rot, it’s likely you’re not watering consistently enough. Stick to a watering schedule and avoid watering when there is natural precipitation. New fruits that form should be free from blossom-end rot.

Frequently Asked Questions

They are mild, having a Scoville unit between 0-200. Sometimes, ‘Shishito’ fruits form spicier than the other ones on the plant—these too are relatively mild, and no spicier than a mild jalapeño.

All peppers are good for you! They have vitamins, minerals, and fiber that boost our digestive system. You can confidently eat ‘Shishitos’ as a part of a well-balanced diet.

‘They are mild and flavorful when raw and cooked. Try them both ways and see which you prefer!

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking to try a new pepper variety this year to snack on anytime, I recommend growing ‘Shishito.’ This variety works well in containers, and it produces dozens of fruits on a compact plant. Whether you’ve got one plant or ten, you’ll love ‘Shishito’ in your garden!

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