Caring for Your Bell Pepper Plants
The green pepper is known for being a warmer-seasoned vegetable because of the higher temperatures that are required for its growth. The growing time for this vegetable is generally 65-70 days.
The best homegrown bell peppers start out as a seed, though store-bought containers usually still have a quality plant.
If you are planting from seeds, it is best to plant them indoors toward late winter to be transplanted after the ground has warmed in the spring, and after night temperatures have stayed above 55°F. If the temperature were to drop lower than 55°F the plants will grow too slowly, the flowers will drop off, and the leaves will fade. The same rules for transplanting go for store-bought plants.
If cold weather remains in your area, combat it by planting in raised garden beds, using black plastic mulch and covering with floating row covers.
Plants should be spaced 18-24 inches apart from each other in a row, and each row should be spaced 14 to 18 inches apart.
If possible, when planting your bell peppers put them where they will get southwestern sun, but also make sure they are in the sun 6-8 hours a day during the growing season. Don't let them get too hot, however, as hot wind and dry soil can kill your plants, especially when they are young.
For bell peppers to properly grow, they should be planted in fertile soil. It may be necessary for you to mulch your bell peppers. While you are transplanting your plants, use a starter fertilizer to help them connect with your soil. After your first peppers are sent, apply a supplemental fertilizer.
To keep your bell peppers healthy they should be receiving 1-2 inches of water per week, but the plants should also be in a position where they can be well drained. Consider irrigating during dry seasons, as it is important that peppers get a uniform supply of moisture. When watering bell peppers it is good to make sure the ground is moist, but not soaking wet.
The peppers can be harvested at any size you desire, although most bell peppers of the green variety are picked when they are 3-4 inches long.
Bell peppers can change to various colors depending on the flavor you desire. Of the hybrid bell peppers, the Bell Boy and Lady Bell peppers change from green to red, Purple Belle goes from purple to black while growing, and then to red when it is ready to harvest, and Chocolate Bell peppers change from green to brown.
Of the sweeter kinds of peppers, both the Gypsy and the Sweet Banana go from yellow to orange to red.
When bell peppers have reached maturity, they are easily picked and broken from the plant. However, less damage is done to your plant if you cut the peppers off instead of pulling them. If you want your green peppers to change to other colors, let them stay on the plant a few days longer, until they change.
Problems to Watch For
If you use tobacco, make sure your hands are very clean before handling your plants, as you could spread tobacco mosaic disease. If this is a concern for you, try to grow pepper plants that are resistant to the disease, if possible.