How to Grow Sweet Peppers

Three Methods:Starting Sweet Pepper SeedsPlanting Sweet PeppersCaring for Sweet Peppers

Sweet peppers, or bell peppers, are a popular garden vegetable that grow well in most environments. You can start the seeds indoors toward the end of winter and plant the seedlings as soon as the weather warms up. If you don't have adequate garden space, sweet peppers can be grown in a pot.

Method 1
Starting Sweet Pepper Seeds

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    Buy a packet of sweet pepper seeds. Standard sweet pepper seeds, which produce, red, yellow or orange bell-shaped peppers, are available in any well-stocked garden center. If you're interested in getting heirloom varieties, check online for a wide range of options. Heirlooms come in all sorts of colors and have varying levels of sweetness.
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    Plan to sow sweet pepper seeds indoors in late winter. Sweet pepper seeds take awhile to germinate, and they will not survive outside until the temperature warms up to 70 °F (21 °C). Give yourself eight to ten weeks to start the seeds before the weather warms to at least 70 degrees and all chance of frost has passed.
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    Plant the seeds in peat pots. Place three seeds in each pot. Plant the seeds a quarter-inch deep. If three seedlings emerge, you'll weed out the weakest one and let the stronger two grow as one plant. Having two sets of leaves protects the plants and helps them grow more healthy than they would as individuals.[1]
    • Peat pots are available at garden stores. They make transplanting easier, since you can plant the peat directly in your garden bed.
    • You can also purchase seed starter soil and plant the seeds in two-inch seed pots or flats.
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    Keep the seedlings warm and moist. The seedlings need to be kept at a temperature between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit to germinate properly. Set them in direct sunlight in a warm room, and sprinkle water on the soil to moisten it. Make sure the soil never dries out.
    • It is important that these seedlings get enough light to grow. You can always add a fluorescent light, if needed.
    • Be careful when watering that you do not disturb the soil in the cups. A light mist is a good way to water.

Method 2
Planting Sweet Peppers

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    Harden off the seedlings ten days before planting them outside. Do this by placing the seedlings in a sheltered outdoor space, like a garden shed or covered outdoor area. Make sure they still get plenty of light. Hardening off the seedlings will help them get used to the outdoor climate before they're planted making the transition less jarring.
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    Prepare the soil in your garden a week prior to planting. Time it so that you work the soil right as the weather is warming up. It's best to work the soil after all chance of frost has passed, and the temperature is steadily climbing toward an average of 70 degrees. Choose a spot in full sun and loosen the soil with a garden rake and add organic compost.
    • Make sure the soil drains well by soaking it with water. If the water puddles in the soil, you'll need to add extra compost and organic material. If the water soaks in immediately, it drains well enough for planting.
    • If you are planting in a garden pot, it should be at least 8 inches diameter to accommodate the plants' growth.
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    Dig holes 18 to 24 inches apart in the garden. The holes should be large enough to accommodate the plants and their root balls, about 1 1/2 to 2 inches deep and wide. If you're planting multiple rows, make sure they're two feet apart.
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    Set the sweet pepper plants with into the holes. If the plants is in peat pots, you can remove the top portion of the pots and plant the rest of the peat pot in the ground with the plant. If the plants are in any other type of pot, you will need to turn the plant over to remove the plant and dirt from the pot before setting it in the hole.
    • To help the dirt settle, pour some water in the holes with a watering can and pack more dirt around the plants if necessary.
    • Try the sulfur trick: stick a few matches upside down alongside each plant in the soil. The sulfur from the matches helps pepper plants grow stronger.

Method 3
Caring for Sweet Peppers

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    Keep the soil moist. Pepper plants like heat, but they need moist soil. Water your sweet pepper plants several times a week throughout the summer. Daily watering may be necessary during particularly dry, hot spells. You can help keep the soil moist by mulching it with grass clippings.[2]
    • Water near the roots, rather than showering the water from overhead. This prevents the leaves from getting burned by the sun.
    • Water in the morning, rather than at night. This way the water will be absorbed during the day. Watering at night leaves the plants prone to mold growth.
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    Fertilize the plants after they fruit. This will help the plants produce large, healthy peppers.
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    Weed the pepper plants often. Hoe around the plants to keep weeds away. Be careful and do not hoe too deeply, or you may cut into the roots of your pepper plants. You may also pull the weeds by hand. Be sure to discard the weeds in a separate area so they don't drop seeds and grow back.
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    Monitor the plants for pests. Pepper plants are susceptible to aphids and flea beetles. If you see pests on your plants, pick them off and drop them in a pail of soapy water. You can also spray them off using a strong stream from your garden hose. As a last resort, spray your plants with pesticides, making sure they're safe for use on vegetables.
    • If you're dealing with a big pest problem, you can cuff the plants. Arrange a piece of cardboard in a circular fashion around the stem of each plant. Make sure the cardboard sticks into the soil about an inch deep, and rises up several inches. This will prevent insects from climbing up the stems.
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    Stake the plants if they get heavy. Place a garden stake next to the main stem and fasten the stem to it loosely with twine. This will help the plant grow upright and keep the peppers from growing against the ground.
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    Pull or cut the peppers off when they mature. The peppers are ready to cut when they're bright and color and look fully ripe. When the peppers have reached the correct shape, color and size, harvest them by cutting them off with a knife. The plant will now be free to produce new fruit.[3]


  • If your plant is small and you want to grow a pepper, find a certain pepper or sprout on the plant that you want to grow. Pick all the other flowers and fruits of the plant even if they aren't mature. This will ensure that most of the nutrients made by the plant will be put in to that one pepper that you didn't pick.
  • If you prefer, you can purchase pepper plants from most gardening centers rather than starting them from seed.
  • Sweet peppers should mature in about 70 days from the time you first plant them.
  • If the weather turns cold, cover each sweet pepper plant to protect them until the temperatures rise.

Things You'll Need

  • Sweet pepper seeds
  • Peat cups
  • Garden hoe
  • Fertilizer

Article Info

Categories: Growing Vegetables