≡ Menu

How to Grow Sweet Peppers

Bell peppers are produced on stiff compact attractive plants that can be grown in small gardens and containers. Most start out green but some may change color to yellow, orange, red or purplish brown when they ripen. They are sweetest when ripe but are tasty at all stages. Bell peppers are warm weather vegetables but can be grown in almost all areas of the country except at high elevations and in the extreme north. An abundance of bell peppers is a wonderful windfall as they require no blanching or special treatment to freeze.

Here are some suggestions for growing bell peppers:

Choose a variety based on color, days to maturation, use, and disease resistance. See my post on selecting peppers.

Start peppers indoors 6-8 weeks before the soil becomes warm or buy seedlings. They are exacting in their requirements for light, water, and temperature so I play it safe and buy seedlings. Sweet peppers are actually perennials so if you live in a frost free area or grow them in pots you can grow them year around.

Plant the seedlings in the garden when the soil temperature is 60o F or above making sure that they are hardened off.

Remove flowers or fruits if the plants have less than 4-6 leaves so they will develop a good root system and plenty of leaves.

Mulch with straw or hay in warm climates to keep the roots cool.

Fertilize with 5-10-10 or similar when you set out the seedlings and again around the drip line 30-45 days later. Avoid high nitrogen fertilizer as it will cause excessive growth and poor blossom set.

Spray each plant with a mixture of 1 tablespoon of Epsom salts in a gallon of water at flowering to give them a shot of magnesium.

Water deeply once or twice a week. If sweet peppers dry out fruit formation may be inhibited.

Look for bugs; most bugs do not harm peppers but aphids can transmit viruses from plant to plant. If a plant develops mottled leaves, get rid of it; it has mosaic and can’t be saved, but could serve as a source of the virus that spreads the disease.

Harvest peppers whenever you need them. They are delicious at any size, although sweetest at maturation.

If you want to grow sweet peppers in containers, provide ¾ to 1 cubic foot of soil per plant.

Four plants will give a family a lot of peppers over a long period of time. If you can’t use all that are produced be sure to remove ripe peppers from the bush as leaving them there signals the bush to stop producing fruit. Any extra sweet peppers you grow can be sliced or cut into pieces, frozen on a cookie sheet, and then packed away in the freezer in plastic bags. I fill sandwich bags with stripes and each bag provides me with about a recipe’s worth of sweet pepper. I can leave them in long stripes, or dice the stripes as they defrost. Very easy!

Vegetable Gardening pointer

Recommended Reading:

Growing Vegetable Soup
The Art of Simple Food II
Incredible Vegetables from Self-Watering Pots
The Art of Simple Food
Chez Panisse Café Cookbook
Kitchen Garden Estate
Kitchen Garden Experts
Eddies Garden
Groundbreaking Food Gardens
Book Review:Making the Most of Your Allotment
Small Spaces Big Ideas
The Joy of Pickling
Gardening with Less Water
The Little Gardener
Salad Samurai
Power Vegetables!
Gardening the Mediterranean Way
My Pantry
The Dirt Cure
The Ultimate Guide to Gardening
Chez Panisse Vegetables
The Friendship Garden Green: Thumbs Up
Food Rules
Lettuce Grows on the Ground
A Plant Based Life
Growing a Feast
The 22 Day Revolution Cookbook
The Urban Homesteading Cookbook
Dandelion & Quince
Eat your Drink
The Broad Fork
The Book of Greens
Eating on the Wild Side
Salad for President
The Power Greens Cookbook
In My Kitchen
Vegetable Literacy
Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables
Root to Leaf
On Vegetables
The Vegetables We Eat
Improving Your Soil
The Heirloom Life Gardener
Garbage Helps Our Garden Grow
Compost! Growing Gardens from Your Garbage
American Grown
Detox Kitchen Vegetables
Simple  Green Meals
Poulets & Legumes
What's in the Garden
Raised Bed Gardening
Beginner Gardening
The Modern Cook's Year
Mostly Plants
The Gardener's Guide to Common-Sense Pest Control
Chile Peppers: A Global History
How to Garden Indoors & Grow Your Own Food Year Round

Recommended Products:

Product Review: Sloggers Garden Boots