Bell peppers are a popular and versatile vegetable that can add flavor and nutrition to various dishes.
If you’re interested in growing your bell peppers, you may wonder how to go about it.
In this blog post, we’ll answer the question “How To Grow Bell Peppers” by covering the basics of starting and caring for bell pepper plants and tips for harvesting and troubleshooting any potential problems.
If you’re new to gardening or have had difficulty growing bell peppers in the past, this article is for you.
- What Are Bell Peppers?
- How To Grow and Care For Bell Peppers?
- Harvesting Bell Peppers
- Possible Problems When Growing Bell Peppers
What Are Bell Peppers?
Bell peppers (also known as sweet peppers or capsicums) are a type of fruit that belongs to the nightshade family.
They are native to Central and South America but are now grown and enjoyed worldwide.
Bell peppers are known for their sweet, crisp flavor and crunchy texture and are often used in various raw and cooked dishes.
Types of Bell Peppers
There are several different types of bell peppers, which vary in color and size. The most common types are listed below.
Green Bell Peppers
These are the most immature and are usually the least expensive.
Green bells have a slightly bitter taste and are often used in cooking, as they become sweeter as they mature.
Red, Yellow, and Orange Bell Peppers
These peppers are more mature and have a sweeter, milder flavor than green peppers.
They are often used raw in salads or as garnish.
Purple Bell Peppers
These are less common and have a slightly sweeter and milder flavor than green peppers.
In addition to their culinary uses, bell peppers are also high in vitamin C and other vital nutrients.
The ancient Aztecs and Incas used bell peppers in various dishes and believed they had medicinal properties. Bell peppers were introduced to Europe by Spanish and Portuguese explorers in the 16th century. They have since become a popular ingredient in many cuisines around the world.
How To Grow and Care For Bell Peppers?
Bell peppers are one of the easiest and most prolific vegetables to grow. They can be planted almost any time, producing hundreds of fruits from just a few plants.
They also have a very long harvest window. With proper grow and post-planting care, you’d get fresh peppers year-round.
Starting Your Bell Pepper Plants
Before growing your bell peppers, you’ll need to start your plants with seeds or seedlings.
Here’s what you’ll need to do.
Choose a Sunny Location
Bell peppers need at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day, so choose a spot in your garden or yard that gets plenty of sunlight.
Prepare the Soil
Bell peppers prefer well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter.
If your soil is poor or lacks nutrients, you should mix some compost or other organic matter to help improve its quality.
Plant Your Seeds or Seedlings
If you’re starting from seeds, sow them in pots or seed trays filled with seed compost and place them in a warm, sunny location.
Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged, and ensure the pots or trays have good drainage.
If you’re using seedlings, transplant them into the garden once they have grown to about 5-6 inches tall.
Caring for Your Bell Pepper Plants
Once your bell pepper plants are established, there are a few key things you’ll need to do to keep them healthy and happy.
Bell peppers need consistent moisture to grow and produce fruit. Be sure to water them regularly, especially during dry spells.
Avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot.
Use a balanced fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 formula, to give your bell pepper plants the necessary nutrients.
Follow the instructions on the fertilizer package for the appropriate application rate.
Pinch off Any Suckers
Bell peppers may produce small suckers and new branches that grow from the base of the plant.
Pinch off these suckers to encourage the plant to focus its energy on producing fruit rather than foliage.
Support the Plants
As your bell pepper plants grow, you may need to provide them with support, such as stakes or cages, to keep them upright.
This is especially important if you’re growing large or heavy varieties of bell peppers.
Harvesting Bell Peppers
One of the most important things to consider when harvesting bell peppers is timing. Bell peppers can take anywhere from 60-90 days to reach maturity, depending on the variety and growing conditions.
Here are a few tips for determining when your bell peppers are ripe and ready to be picked:
- Check the color: Bell peppers will change color as they mature, going from green to red, yellow, or orange (depending on the variety). When the pepper is fully colored, it’s generally considered ripe.
- Look for firmness: Ripe bell peppers should be firm to the touch, with no soft spots or blemishes.
- Taste test: If you’re unsure whether your bell peppers are ripe, you can always do a taste test. Ripe peppers will have a sweet, crisp flavor, while unripe peppers may be bitter or sour.
Picking and Storing Your Bell Peppers
Once you’ve determined that your bell peppers are ripe, it’s time to pick them.
Here’s how to do it:
- Gently twist or cut the pepper from the plant. Avoid pulling or yanking on the pepper, as this can damage the plant or leave the pepper with a rough, uneven surface.
- Handle your bell peppers gently, as they can be fragile and bruise easily.
- If you have more bell peppers than you can use at once, you can store them in the refrigerator or a cool, dark place for a few days. Bell peppers can also be frozen or canned for longer-term storage.
- If you prefer a sweeter flavor, you can leave some peppers on the plant to continue ripening. Just be sure to check them regularly and pick them before they become overripe or start to rot.
Different bell peppers mature at other times, so planting a mix of early, mid-season, and late varieties can help extend your harvest. If you have a long growing season, you can grow a new batch of bell pepper seeds or seedlings every few weeks to ensure a continuous supply of peppers.
Possible Problems When Growing Bell Peppers
Here are some of the most common problems affecting bell pepper plants and how to prevent or resolve them.
Bell peppers can be prone to attack by various pests.
Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that can suck the juices from your bell pepper plants, causing them to become stunted or distorted.
Organic insecticides like neem oil will eliminate Aphids. Or blast them off with a strong stream of water.
Cutworms are small, caterpillar-like insects that can chew through the stems of your bell pepper plants, causing them to wilt or die.
Use cutworm collars (small cardboard or paper tubes) around the base of your bell pepper plants, or pick the cutworms off by hand.
Whiteflies are tiny, moth-like insects that can infest your bell pepper plants, causing the leaves to turn yellow and the plants to become stunted.
Insecticidal soap or an organic spray will wad off whiteflies.
Bell peppers can also be affected by some diseases.
Blossom-end rot results in dark, sunken spots on the base of the bell pepper.
It is usually caused by a calcium deficiency in the soil or improper watering practices.
Prevent this by fertilizing our bell peppers with compost and mulching the soil around them to retain moisture.
Alternaria Leaf Blight
This is a fungal disease that causes dark, circular spots on the leaves of your bell pepper plants.
Ensure your bell pepper plants have good air circulation, avoid overhead watering, and use a copper-based fungicide as needed.
Root rot is a severe fungal disease. They attack the roots of your bell pepper plants, causing them to wilt and die.
Ensure your bell pepper plants have well-draining soil and avoid over-watering.
You may need to remove and destroy the affected plants to prevent the disease from spreading.
Growing bell peppers is a fun and rewarding hobby that can add flavor and nutrition to your diet.
With the right conditions, a little bit of care, and a watchful eye for pests and diseases, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of homegrown bell peppers.
So please don’t be shy; give it a try! You might find that bell peppers are the “pepper” of your eye.