If you’re a gardener looking to spruce up your backyard, then planting sweet peppers is a must! Not only can you enjoy their unique flavors, but they also provide a variety of colors for a beautiful sight.
Moreover, homegrown sweet peppers are just as delicious as store-bought ones and can be grown easily in any garden or container.
In this article, we’ll discuss all the basic steps for growing these tasty vegetables from seed to harvest.
When to Plant
Start pepper seeds 8-10 weeks ahead of the last frost date.
However, some home gardeners prefer to purchase starter plants at the nursery, rather than growing them from seed. That’s because peppers grow slowly (60 to 90 days for most varieties).
How to Grow Sweet Peppers from Seeds
Start early and indoors. Sweet pepper seeds take 7-21 days to germinate, so start by planning ahead!
Ideally, you should get your seedling in the ground 3 to 4 weeks after they’ve germinated.
It’s best to plant them outdoors when the temperature outside is consistently warm, usually during late spring or early summer.
Next, pick the right spot. For optimum growth and fruit production, these tropical plants need at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. So, you’ll want to choose a spot in your garden that gets plenty of sun.
The soil should also be well-drained and have an adequate amount of organic matter for best results .
Also, most pepper plants require a good amount of growing space — about 12 to 16 inches apart.
Growing in Containers
First, you’ll need the right kind of soil. An organic potting mix that is well-draining is ideal.
Make sure the pot you choose has 2 to 4 holes in the bottom for drainage and choose a pot that’s big enough for two or three plants.
One pepper plant is usually planted in each 5-gallon container. However, larger containers can hold 2-3 pepper plants depending on their size.
It all depends on what variety you choose, as some peppers like mini sweet peppers grow smaller than others.
Finally, ensure your peppers get enough sunlight, water, nutrients, and general care as you would for an in-ground garden.
Make sure you get the fertilizer needs right. That’s because sweet peppers need a lot of nutrients to produce large, tasty fruits and grow healthy.
Opt to use a fertilizer with a balanced ratio of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K).
However, the plants require less nitrogen, but more phosphorus and potassium to produce the highest yields during the fruiting stage.
If you are using organic fertilizer, like compost tea or manure tea, apply them only twice during the growing season. Do so once the flowers appear and once when fruits start ripening.
Proper watering is a must for growing sweet peppers. You’ll need to keep the soil consistently moist, but not too wet — it should never be sopping or puddling.
A good way to test the soil is to insert your index finger into the soil. If your finger comes out dry, it’s time to water. Be sure not to over-water either, as that can put stress on the plants.
It also helps to water in the early morning or late evening, and make sure that you water at the base of the plant, rather than on its leaves.
Aphids love feeding on sweet pepper plants, so keeping an eye out for these critters is important. Caterpillars will also munch on your plants and make them look terrible.
Thrips, spider mites, fungus gnats, and lygus bugs are other pests that will go after sweet bell peppers .
By taking the proper precautions and using the right pest control methods, you’ll be able to effectively keep pests away.
There are a few common diseases you should also watch out for. These include damping-off, mosaic virus, blight, leaf spots, mildew, and rot.
To help prevent these diseases, practice crop rotation and look into natural disease control measures to control them naturally.
How to Harvest
Look for sweet peppers that are brightly colored and slightly firm, when lightly squeezed.
If pepper is still green (and not fully ripened) you can wait until it turns red, orange, yellow, or purple. However, some farmers harvest bell peppers when they still have their green color.
But just keep in mind that firmness and color are important indicators of ripeness. Use a sharp knife or scissors to remove the fruit from the plant.
Refrigerators are ideal for storing sweet peppers since the temperature is more constant than if you were to hang the peppers on a hook or in a basket in your kitchen.
When placing your sweet peppers in the fridge, dry them off beforehand. Too much moisture will cause them to spoil.
Also, consider placing them in a plastic bag with holes. This will keep air circulating and moisture out.
Drying, canning, and pickling are other methods to preserve veggies like these. However, if you plan on using your sweet peppers right away and don’t need to store them in the fridge.
Types of Sweet Peppers
The most popular ones out there that you can cultivate at home include:
- Bell: these are the most versatile of all pepper types and come in a variety of colors (green, yellow, red, orange, and even purple!)
- Banana: these are mild-tasting and have a tangy sweet flavor.
- Cubanelle: these are mild-flavored but can be slightly hot at times.
- Pimento: these are fairly sweet with a hint of spiciness.
- Poblano: these green peppers have a bold flavor and mild heat which adds an extra punch to any dish.
Whichever variety you choose to grow at home, they should all thrive in similarly warm temperatures with lots of sunshine.
Where to Buy Seeds
You can buy high-quality seeds from gardening stores, online, or even from farmers’ markets. Online retailers such as SeedsNow sell good-quality organic seeds.
Sweet peppers can be a delicious and rewarding addition to any home garden. With the right know-how and some patient effort, you too can have a bumper crop of sweet peppers.