Deliciously sweet and packed with nutrition, bell peppers are one of the tastiest and prettiest fruits to grow.
Belonging to the Capsicum family, these sweet peppers are the only members that don’t produce capsaicin, the chemical that’s responsible for the fiery sensation in hot chillis.
Red peppers are the very sweetest because they’ve been left to ripen on the vine the longest, they also include more vitamin C and beta-carotene than green peppers.
Equally delicious, eaten raw or roasted, bell peppers are known to improve eye health and reduce the risk of several diseases.
Bell peppers are well suited to container growing so you won’t need acres of space to grow these fabulous fruits.
As long as you can provide a sunny, sheltered spot, you should be rewarded with an abundance of delicious sweet peppers.
What bell peppers should I choose?
In addition to the familiar green, orange, yellow and red bell peppers, you can also find purple, brown, and even white varieties.
Here’s our pick of perfect pepper varieties for you to try:
- Candy Cane Chocolate Cherry: beautifully colored, sweet, and crisp.
- Mama Mia Giallo: long, sweet, yellow fruits.
- Whitney: super sweet and color-changing from white to red.
- Corno di Torro Rosso: a popular Italian variety, deliciously sweet.
How to grow bell peppers from seed
When it comes to growing peppers, the right temperature is crucial.
Bell peppers need plenty of warmth to grow so you’ll need to sow seeds inside or in a heated greenhouse.
- Fill small pots or a planting tray with a good quality seed starter mix.
- Sow the bell pepper seeds 1/4 inch deep and cover them with a thin layer of soil. You can sow 4 seeds per pot.
- Water well then pop the pots in a warm, bright spot, a heated propagator or place them on a heating pad. They’ll need to be kept warm at around 70° F.
- When the seedlings are 6cm tall, transfer them into larger pots filled with rich, organic compost.
- Keep the plants warm and move them into larger pots as they become pot-bound. You’ll notice the roots coming through the bottom of the pot and plant growth will slow when it’s time to upsize.
Peppers grow best in containers, it keeps their roots warmer than they would be in the ground and it’s also easy to move the plants if necessary.
Make sure your pot is big enough, a 5-gallon pot will suit one large plant or two smaller ones. Peppers favor looser sandy or loamy soil mixes.
You should be able to move your pepper plants outside from late May, remembering to harden them off over a week or so before they make the big move.
Bell peppers can grow quite tall, reaching between 3 and 6 feet, and the fruits are heavy so they will need to be well supported with a stake or trellis.
When the first flowers appear, fertilize the plant weekly with a liquid tomato feed.
Bell peppers like to be kept moist but the roots don’t like to be soggy so water little and often.
How to care for bell peppers
Bell peppers are easy to grow and care for but with a little extra TLC, you can grow happier plants and ramp up your yield.
Make sure that your plant receives plenty of sunlight. Peppers need this to ripen fully and achieve their intensely sweet flavor.
Consider growing a companion vegetable near your bell peppers.
Corn, cucumbers, carrots, eggplants, onions, and beets will all grow happily alongside peppers, helping to improve soil conditions, repel pests and boost pollination.
When to harvest bell peppers
You can harvest your peppers once they’ve reached the desired size and color. All peppers start off green, before changing color as they ripen.
Check the details on your seed packet for the optimum harvest time. Carefully cut the fruits from the vine with a sharp knife.
Common bell pepper problems
Like all plants, peppers are susceptible to pests, viruses, and damage from fungi.
Sometimes peppers start to rot on the plant and this is often caused by a calcium deficiency in the soil.
If your pepper’s leaves turn yellow, it could be because the plant is suffering from a lack of nutrients or the temperature is too low.
Make sure that you fertilize your bell peppers regularly (tomato feed is ideal) and shelter your plants as much as possible.
If the temperatures drop below 60℉, move your pepper plant indoors.
Look for disease-resistant plants when buying your seeds, keep your plants well-watered and fed and you should be able to grow a healthy crop of peppers to enjoy throughout summer.