Growing Bell Peppers from Seed to Harvest

Growing Bell Peppers

Use these professional methods to grow tasty bell peppers from seed or seedlings, covering everything from planting to harvesting.

Freshly Harvested Bell Peppers

Freshly harvested bell peppers add flavor and a crisp crunch to summertime recipes such as kebabs, roasted peppers, salads, and salsas. With some preparation and extra care, you can harvest your own planted sweet bell peppers this season.

Choosing and Planting Bell Pepper

Adding bell peppers to the food garden is easy and highly satisfying, especially when starting with pepper seedlings from a nursery. Classic varieties like the reliable ‘King Arthur’ can typically be found at nearby garden centers for those who prefer them.

Colorful Choices Await

Specialty seed farms offer an extensive assortment of bell peppers in various colors, sizes, shapes, and flavors, perfect for those seeking culinary adventure. However, it’s essential to research key factors such as time to harvest, disease resistance of your chosen variety, and the desired culinary use before making a selection.

To make sure the seedlings are prepared to go outside as the weather warms in the spring, you’ll also need to start your bell pepper seeds indoors over the winter.

Choosing Pepper Varieties

The time required for pepper plants to mature and produce fruit varies among different varieties. Gardeners in the South, where summers are long and warm, can opt for varieties that take longer to mature. Conversely, for gardeners in the North, selecting cultivars that can yield a harvest before the fall temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit is essential. To determine the length of your summer growing season, contacting your state extension department can provide valuable information.

Managing Pepper Diseases

Regrettably, peppers are susceptible to several serious and fairly common diseases. If you encounter health issues with your plants, your local extension office can assist in diagnosing the problem and provide information on prevalent pepper diseases in your area. This support is invaluable if you’ve faced challenges growing peppers in the past and suspect a disease might be the cause.

Choosing Disease-Resistant

Look for cultivars that are resistant to diseases such as tomato spotted wilt virus, potato virus Y, tobacco etch virus, phytophthora blight, and bacterial leaf spot. Opting for disease-resistant varieties and implementing proper maintenance practices can help mitigate health risks and enhance your pepper harvest.

Pepper Types

There are numerous forms and hues for sweet peppers. Fruits are available in snack-sized “lunchbox” peppers, elongated horns, blocky little bell peppers, and the traditional hearty bell shape. All bell peppers begin as a sour green, but as they ripen, they take on more color and sweetness. Peppers can mature to canary yellow, fiery orange, crimson red, or deep purple, depending on the type.


Selecting a suitable location is the first step in preparing your site for growing bell peppers. Peppers thrive in full sun, requiring at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. Additionally, the soil should be moisture-retentive yet well-drained to prevent root rot. If the only sunny spot has poor soil quality, consider improving the soil or opt for elevated garden beds or container gardening for growing bell peppers.


Creating a rich organic environment is ideal for the successful growth of bell peppers. Before planting, incorporate a generous amount of compost, well-aged manure, or cover crop residues into the soil. This nutrient-rich organic matter will decompose over time, nourishing beneficial soil organisms and improving the garden bed’s drainage, water retention, and overall soil texture.

Soil Test

Bell peppers’ health depends on the soil’s mineral nutrient concentration and pH. They thrive in a pH range of 6.5 to 7.0, but excessively acidic or alkaline soil can hinder nutrient absorption. Therefore, conducting a soil test before fertilizing is crucial. State extension offices offer quick, low-cost services, providing detailed reports and recommendations for the crop being cultivated.

Crop Rotation

Bell peppers, part of the nightshade family alongside tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, and tomatillos, are susceptible to various insect pests and diseases. Continuous planting in the same location can promote the buildup of disease-causing fungi, bacteria, viruses, and pests. To disrupt this cycle, rotate the areas where nightshade crops are grown each year. This practice helps manage pests and diseases effectively.


When it comes to raising sweet bell peppers, timing is important. The original home of these heat-loving vegetables was South and Central America. In the United States, we grow peppers as warm-season annuals, putting them outside into the summer sunshine whenever nightfall and soil temperatures are consistently over fifty degrees. Peppers grow as perennials in their native range and similar tropical climates.

Frost Avoidance and Growth

When strange spells of 80 degrees occur early in the spring, it’s tempting to plant peppers outside, but to avoid any potential of cold damage, wait until all risk of frosty weather has past. To find out when your region’s typical last frost date is, contact your state extension department. Although peppers can withstand temperatures beyond 50 degrees, temperatures above 75 degrees will yield better results.

Starting Pepper Seeds Indoors

Starting pepper seeds indoors can provide an early start on the growing season, typically eight to ten weeks before the typical frost date. Ensure the potting soil is moist and add a thin layer of additional potting mix. Use a seedling heat mat to hasten germination and position the pot near a bright window or grow light. Avoid gangly and spread-out pepper sprouts, as they may not receive enough light.

Transplanting Pepper Seedlings

Seedlings should be moved to their pots once they sprout their first set of leaves, using a container no larger than a 4-inch pot. Carefully remove the plants from the potting soil with a pencil, holding one leaf instead of the stem to prevent breaking the shoot. After thorough watering, add potting mix carefully to the roots.

Preparing Pepper Seedlings

Before planting, start the “hardening off” process by acclimating your pepper seedlings to the outdoors. Set them in a sunny, protected spot on warm days above fifty degrees and bring them inside for the evening. Once the nightly low falls below fifty degrees, the peppers are ready to go outdoors. Purchase healthy plants from local garden centers, with a strong, pencil-width stem and no more than a foot tall. Set the seedlings down to the same depth as in the pot, and read the seed packet or plant label for spacing details.


Regular watering is crucial for bell pepper plants’ health and productivity. Soak the soil at the stem’s base every other day for the first week, then reduce watering to once every few days to teach roots to seek water deeper in the soil, enabling plants to withstand summer heat.


To find out what kind of fertilizer to use and how often to apply it, go to the instructions in your soil test result. Take extra care not to overfertilize with nitrogen fertilizer, as this will encourage more growth of foliage at the price of the development of flowers and fruits.

Supporting Bell Pepper Plants

Because pepper stems can be fragile, the weight of the maturing fruit may cause them to shatter. For additional support, use stake plants or a tiny tomato cage. When plants are 6 to 8 inches tall, pinch out the upper set of leaves to encourage more lateral branching on shorter, more vigorous plants.


Mulch prevents weed competition, preserves water, and controls root zone temperature. It enriches soil but can also attract pests like slugs, snails, and cutworms. Apply three to four inches of natural mulch when seedlings are a few inches tall. Wheat straw should be devoid of seeds, as removal may be necessary several weeks after mulching.


Keep an eye out for possible pests and disease issues to guarantee the health of your pepper plants. To avoid damage and draw in important pollinators, think about growing companion plants. Sunscald is a problem for peppers that can result in light-colored lesions on the fruit or leaves. In order to shield plants from harsh sun, provide shade or a structure like to a tent. Fruit with sunken lesions may have blossom end rot, a possible health problem. Although plants absorb calcium along with water, calcium shortage is not the primary cause. Improved irrigation or calcium fertilization can alleviate symptoms.

Bell Peppers in Pots

Bell peppers thrive in pots, regardless of garden space or preference. Choose 1- or 2-gallon pots with drainage holes on the bottom. Potted peppers require more frequent watering than ground-grown ones, especially during summer months. Unglazed terracotta plants may also require more regular watering due to moisture draining from the pot’s sides. Ensure pots have adequate drainage holes on the bottom.


Pick sweet bell peppers when they are fully colored or green, as they are sweeter and more developed. Regular harvesting encourages more fruit development. Use sharp pruners, snips, or scissors to avoid damaging the plant. There is no rumor that bell peppers with four bumps are female and those with three bumps are masculine, as this is untrue.

Bell Pepper Pollination

Bell pepper flowers have male and female organs, with pollen from bees or other pollinators forming a tube that travels to the ovary. Once fertilized, the carpel swells and develops into a fruit with seeds. All bell pepper fruit are female. Sweet peppers are best eaten fresh from the garden and can be stored in the refrigerator for about a week. However, storing them for more than a week can cause skin sinking and puckering.

Leave a comment


Product Enquiry