Bell peppers are a staple in my garden and I have grown ‘California Wonder’ for over 40 years. It is an heirloom cultivar dating back to 1928 when it was first introduced and set the standard for sweet peppers. It has stood the test of time and the seeds and seedlings of ‘California Wonder’ are still readily available in grocery stores and garden centers. The prolific, upright plant is medium sized and bears large, blocky, 3-4 lobed, glossy green fruits that ripen to red. The thick walled peppers are especially good for stuffing and in salads.
‘California Wonder’ is the parent to several outstanding other cultivars. These cultivars have variety of good characteristics including increased slightly larger fruit, the need for a few less days to maturity, and increased resistance to tobacco mosaic virus. In all the years I have been growing ‘California Wonder’ I have never had a problem with disease or pests even 40 years ago when I smoked cigarettes and killed off the tomato plants with tobacco mosaic virus. Ask me about deer problems and I have a whole other story to tell.
Days to Harvest: 75 days if temperatures are ideal.
Planting Date: Seeds – start in doors at least 8 weeks before the last frost date; seedlings – plant in garden when soil is warm, usually about 2 weeks after the last frost date.
Spacing: Plant 18-24” apart.
Germination: 14-21 days.
Size: 18-14” H x 12” W.
Light: Full sun.
Water: Water once or twice a week (dry soil can inhibit fruit formation).
Soil: Warm, well drained, fertile, slightly acidic.
Fertilizer: Feed every 30-45 days with a complete fertilizer; too much nitrogen can cause excessive growth at the expense of flowers and fruit.
Care: Remove first flowers to improve yield.
Pests and Diseases: Cutworms, tomato hornworms, aphids, flea beetles, bacterial leaf spot, and wilt may occur.
Suitable for containers? Yes.