Bell peppers are slightly sweet fruits you can eat raw or use for cooking. You can add it to fresh salads or stuff and bake it in the oven.
Since you’ll find many uses for this fruit, it’s no surprise that beginners and experienced home growers add it to their garden.
When to plant bell peppers? Bell pepper seeds need to be started indoors six to eight weeks before the last frost date in spring. They like warm weather, so ensure there is no danger of frost when you transplant the crops outdoors.
Choosing Bell Pepper Varieties
Bell peppers are a popular warm-weather crop that can be eaten raw or used for cooking. They have a smooth exterior protecting the crunchy and slightly sweet flesh inside.
What makes bell peppers sweet is the lack of capsaicin, the component that gives hot peppers their heat.
Most bell pepper fruits start off green and then turn red when they mature. Some are orange or yellow when young.
If you’re thinking of which variety to grow, here are the most popular ones:
1. California Wonder
The California Wonder was first introduced in the 1920s but has remained a staple among gardeners all over the world.
What most home gardeners love about them is the fact that they produce four-inch fruits.
2. Cabernet Sweet Bell Pepper
Cabernet sweet bell pepper starts off as glossy green fruits and turns red as they mature.
They have a very sweet taste, and they are popular for being resistant to different kinds of diseases.
The best part is that they produce eight-inch-long sweet bell pepper fruits.
3. Carmen Sweet Pepper
Like Cabernets, Carmen sweet peppers also start off green and then become red, so how do you differentiate the two?
At six inches long when fully mature, Carmen sweet peppers are bigger than Cabernets. They also taste best when fried.
4. Cupid Sweet Pepper
Like most sweet bell peppers, Cupid sweet peppers go from green to red as they mature.
You can harvest them early if you want them green, or you can wait until they are fully mature and harvest them when they are sweet, shiny, and red.
5. Islander Sweet Pepper
Islander sweet peppers have lavender skins before they mature and take on hints of orange and yellow when they ripen.
On the other hand, the pale, yellow flesh turns dark red as it nears harvest time.
6. Gourmet Sweet Pepper
Gourmet peppers have a sweet and fruity flavor. Their skin is bright orange, almost the same color as the skin of a tangerine.
They are one of the easier peppers to grow because they tolerate different growing conditions.
7. Gypsy Sweet Pepper
A tried-and-tested favorite among gardeners, the Gypsy sweet pepper is popular in all of America.
They produce four-inch sweet peppers that start off as golden-green and ripen to orange and then red.
8. Good as Gold Italian Pepper
This variety of sweet bell pepper has a very interesting flavor that is perfect for roasting and grilling.
The plant grows up to three feet and produces seven-inch elongated peppers that reach full maturity in 70 days.
How To Plant Bell Pepper Seeds
Growing your own bell peppers expands your menu a thousandfold.
Before that can happen, you have to learn how to plant them first. To help you out, here’s a step-by-step guide you can follow:
Step 1: Decide if you want to grow bell peppers from seed.
While it is relatively easier to buy a plant ready to transplant, you’ll be surprised to know that bell peppers are actually easy to grow from seed.
The most common are the red, orange, and yellow varieties, but you can always opt to grow other varieties.
You have several options to choose from, from dark brown to pale lavender.
Some varieties are fast-growing and can bear fruit in just two months. Others have longer growing seasons and need three months, maybe more, before they blossom.
Step 2: Figure out when you will start based on your climate.
Almost all varieties of bell peppers require you to start seeds indoors, six to eight weeks before the last frost date.
Gardeners with long growing seasons and are in warm climates can wait until the danger of frost has passed to start planting outdoors.
If you decide to do this, keep in mind that doing so directly affects how soon the fruits will be produced.
Step 3: Plant the seeds and cover them with a layer of soil.
For the seedlings to survive, you need to lightly cover them with soil and then water them.
You can expect your seedlings to sprout in about one to two weeks.
Step 4: Consistently provide them warmth.
For your bell pepper seeds to germinate, they need to have a warm period.
Give the bell peppers enough sunlight and the correct temperature by planting them when it’s warm.
Air temperatures of about 80 degrees Fahrenheit and higher soil temperatures are required for the best results.
There is a big chance your plants won’t sprout if the temperatures are below 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 5: Prevent the plants from growing spindly and too tall.
When you grow your seedlings indoors, you need a strong light source to prevent the seedlings from getting spindly and too tall.
Good growth at the early stage is essential for the plant’s overall health.
Step 6: Before replanting, make sure to harden them first.
It’s important that you prepare your seedlings before you transplant them outdoors to prevent them from going into shock.
You can harden them off by gradually increasing the time they spend outdoors.
Transplant the seedlings only when the temperatures at night are consistently over 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 7: Start replanting your bell pepper seedlings.
Once your seedlings have enough leaves, you can start transplanting them into your garden.
Bell peppers can grow in containers, but make sure you’re using the right size.
They can grow up to a meter tall, so you should use containers at least 26 centimeters deep to prevent overcrowding.
How To Care for Bell Peppers
It’s important that you provide bell pepper plants with their preferred growing conditions so that they can grow healthy and happy.
In a nutshell, they need full sun and fertile and well-drained soil. They can resist drought spells if they are in large pots.
Bell peppers grow best when planted alongside carrots, eggplants, cucumbers, corns, and tomatoes.
That said, avoid planting them near apricot or cabbage, which could develop fungal diseases detrimental to their growth.
Here are more care tips to keep in mind when growing bell peppers:
1. Control weeds.
You can control weeds by using mulch or black plastic bags. Doing this can also speed up the bell pepper’s growth, especially in areas with a cool climate.
If you are from warm regions, it is better to stick to mulch. It will help conserve moisture and protect the plant’s roots from too much heat.
2. Fertilize your plant.
Use fertilizer to ensure healthy plants. Your bell pepper plants greatly benefit from granular fertilizer. However, you should slow down on using nitrogen fertilizer.
Instead of boosting fruit production, you could end up with fruitless plants if you use fertilizers with too much nitrogen.
3. Pick the bell peppers regularly.
What we like about growing peppers is that you can harvest them at any stage, depending on the flavor you’re going for.
As they ripen, most bell peppers turn from green to their desired color, usually in about 14 days.
Some varieties take a month; others take longer than that.
4. Monitor sudden changes in temperature.
Your bell pepper plant needs protection from sudden temperature changes.
You can build wire cages covered with plastic to act as an insulator for your bell pepper plants. Doing this will protect your plant from abrupt drops in temperature.
You can also opt to use bell jars. Originally, they were made from glass, but the more recent ones are made from soda bottles or even plastic milk.
5. Collect the pepper seeds.
You can use these collected pepper seeds if you decide to plant bell peppers again. They can last in storage for up to two years if the conditions are ideal.
Because you won’t have to buy new seeds come planting season, you’ll be saving money.
6. Remove used plants.
As soon as the winter chill hits, you should harvest all remaining fruits and dig the plants from the root.
Healthy plants can be put in the compost bin. Plants with diseases should be separated and get rid of to avoid the spread of disease.
How Long Does It Take to Grow Bell Pepper?
As mentioned, bell peppers come in different varieties.
Depending on which bell pepper variety you decide to grow, you could be looking at two to three months from planting to harvesting.
As long as the conditions allow it, you can start bell pepper seeds. The earlier you do, the better.
Sprouting the seeds could take anywhere from one to two weeks. As soon as the seedlings become established, you can transplant them outdoors.
You then wait for the plants to flower, after which they will start producing fruits in about two weeks.
The fruits will reach their mature size in approximately 35 days and become fully ripened two weeks later.
Growing Bell Peppers
Bell peppers may not be as easy to grow as other crops, but they are definitely worth the effort.
These low-calorie fruits are highly nutritious and effortless to add to any dish.
When growing bell peppers, pay extra attention to temperatures, especially when starting the seeds.
Following the tips we shared, you should have plenty of bell peppers to harvest in about 60 to 90 days.