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.

Vegetables pointer

By Karen

3 thoughts on “Plant Profile: Bell Pepper ‘California Wonder’ (Capsicum annum)”
  1. Nice post – it was pretty helpfull for me, who’s just getting a ‘gardenish’ thing started in my (very small) apartment. I was wondering if you could give me a few tips on my 6 pepper:
    I ought them in one of those 6-pack-connected, 2inch deep pot sets, and now they’re roughly 8in high. I’d like to get them some more elbow room, but they seem to be doing okay on my windowsill for now, and I’m having some difficulties with affording larger pots. Any cheaper suggestions, and is there a height/time when they absolutely MUST have more space?

    1. Ginger
      What kind of peppers are you growing? Most pepper plants get 3′ tall and a couple of feet wide so they are definitely going to need more room. Light, however, is going to be a big problem and unless you give them what they need putting them in big pots is a waste of money.
      Two suggestions for containers: 1. On garbage collection day look around at your neighbors trash especially in the recycle bins. Most gardeners throw out a lot of plastic pots. 2. Look for plastic jugs or containers like the 1 gal ones that milk comes in. Put some holes in the bottom for drainage.


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