ABSTRACT Optimization of the use of water and the possibility of using residues as substrate in the black pepper production chain can yield economic and environmental benefits. The objective of this study was to evaluate the biometric and physiological traits of black pepper plantlets (Piper nigrum L.), cv. Bragantina, at different irrigation levels and soilless substrates. Plantlets were grown for 120 days on three substrates [biosolid + crushed coconut fiber (3:1, by volume); biosolid + granitic rock powder (3:1, by volume); and biosolid + crushed coconut fiber + granitic rock powder (2:1:1, by volume)] and at five irrigation levels [36 % (very low); 55 % (low); 85 % (moderate); 100 % (well-irrigated); and 126 % of the reference irrigation level (over-irrigated)]. The biometric traits evaluated increased as the irrigation levels increased, with the exception of root dry mass, which was not influenced by this factor, nor water use efficiency, which decreased as the irrigation levels increased. In general, plants grown with a mixture of the three wastes (biosolid + crushed coconut fiber + granitic rock powder) exhibited higher values for biometric variables and chlorophyll content when they were moderately, well or over-irrigated, in comparison with the other two substrates. It was possible to achieve the plantlet commercial standard using this three waste mixture and the moderate irrigation level.