Bell peppers could be the most satisfying plant to grow in your backyard garden. It has a compact form, bright colors, and dark green leaves. Though you might think it’s a vegetable, it’s really a fruit!
To be a fruit, the plant must bear seeds, and the bell pepper does just that! However, before you put them in your garden, you might be wondering how long it takes for them to grow. After all, you need to know so that you can plan to have delicious recipes available for this tasty fruit.
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You might be surprised to learn that bell peppers are annuals and perennials based on where they’re grown. They don’t like cold weather at all, so they’re treated like an annual.
With that, they need a longer growing season than other fruits. It can take up to 100 days to see fruition, so if you’ve got a short summer, you might need to start your seeds inside.
Though you could be tempted to save the seeds from peppers you’ve grown in the past, this is inadvisable. For one, you don’t get the benefit of the many varieties out there. However, if you only grow what you like to eat, this might not be an issue for you.
It’s best to start your seeds about eight weeks before the last spring frost. Some people have good luck sowing them earlier, but you need to watch them carefully and keep up with maintenance.
Often, it’s best to put the seeds into a starting mix and keep them in a sunny place. You can also cover the packs to speed things up.
If you don’t have a spot that’s warm all the time, use a heat mat or light to offer more consistent heating. Remember, the soil for bell peppers must be about 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26.7°C). Germination usually happens in about 10 days.
Once you’ve got them growing, put them in larger pots. Tamp the soil and moisten it so that it doesn’t settle too much. Ensure that the plants stay moist.
Transplanting the Bell Peppers
When you start seeing leaves pop up, you could be tempted to transplant the bell peppers to your garden immediately. However, it’s best to wait for a few more weeks after the last spring frost.
Once it’s time to move the plants to the garden, don’t do it all at once. This adds too much stress to the plant and could cause it to die. Instead, you should take the bell pepper plants outside for a few hours each day. Gradually leave them out longer, and finally, put them in the garden.
It’s also imperative to test the soil temperature and wait until it’s consistently 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18.33°C). When the time is right, pick off any flowers on the plants before you put them in the garden.
Spacing is crucial here. Therefore, you should have about 18 inches between your bell peppers. Read the label instructions for recommendations.
Keep your new garden plants watered and add mulch. Most bell pepper varieties have shallow root systems, and the mulch holds the moisture in place.
Having Healthy Plants
Just because you live in a cool climate doesn’t mean you can enjoy bell peppers. To make them grow faster, lay some black plastic on top of the soil. Just ensure that the temperature within doesn’t get too hot.
It’s also crucial to keep your plants moist. If they get too wet, you might notice less fruit or more disease. The same is true for overly dry plants. Generally, you want to have 1.5 inches of water a week.
Temperatures really need to be anywhere from 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit (21.1-32.2°C) during the day for the best fruit production. You also need to make sure that nighttime temps don’t get lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit (12.8°C).
Diseases and Other Concerns
During the growth period of 100 days, your bell pepper plants are susceptible to many diseases, such as root rot. Fungal disease can also cause the leaves to wilt or fall off.
Remember that the bell pepper plant has shallow roots. While you must weed the garden, be particularly careful that you don’t expose the roots. You should also provide enough fertilizer to reduce calcium deficiency and other concerns.
Many bugs also like your bell pepper plants. Keep flea beetles, stink bugs, spider mites, and aphids away from your plants with organic pesticides.
The time to harvest depends on the type of pepper plant you have. Sweet bell peppers can be picked whenever you want, and it doesn’t affect their taste or texture.
However, if you prefer green peppers, you should pick them when they’re fully grown and have thick flesh, but there are no other colors present (orange, yellow, or red). If you leave the green peppers on the plant longer, they sweeten and turn to other shades.
When you’re ready to harvest the pepper plants after 100 days, make sure that you use sharp scissors or a knife. Make a clean cut without disturbing the plant or making it fall over. That way, you don’t cause damage or knock loose the fruits that aren’t ready for picking.
Clean the bell pepper with a dry cloth to get rid of any dirt and put them in your refrigerator for a week. While you should wash them thoroughly before you eat them, do that right before you use them. That way, they don’t rot faster.
How to Eat Them
Some people eat them raw and just cut them and remove the seeds. You can also add them to salads, hummus, or in any cooked dish.
It’s crucial to learn how long it takes to grow bell peppers. Though some climates are better suited for them, almost anyone can put them in their gardens.
On average, it takes 60 days for them to grow and be ready for harvest, but don’t be surprised if it takes 100 days. Regardless, you’ve learned how to grow them, making it a little easier to put them in your garden for the next growing season.