How to Grow Bell Peppers from Seed to Harvest
You consider growing bell peppers at home? Good news! It’s fairly simple and can also be quite a lot of fun, at least if you know what you are doing 😉.
In this article, I give you all the information you need to grow bell peppers from seed to harvest in a step-by-step approach.
I will also provide you with some useful general information for growing bell peppers at the end of this article.
Moreover, I also included some videos from other gardeners to make this article even more comprehensive for you.
Enough talk, let’s get right into it! 😉
Table of Contents
Bell Pepper Plant Profile
|Size||3 to 5 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet wide.|
|Climate||Bell peppers grow best in moderate climatic zones with optimal temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.|
|Sun Exposure||Bell peppers grow best with plenty of sun.|
|Soil Requirements||Bell peppers like acidic soil with a pH of 5.5 – 6.5.|
|Country of Origin||Central and South America.|
|Growing Difficulty||Easy – Intermediate.|
|Perennial?||No, you will harvest bell peppers in the first growing year.|
|When should you start?||The best time to start growing bell peppers is in spring around one month before you expect the last spring freeze.|
|Expected Yield & Harvest||You can expect to harvest 5 to 8 bell peppers per plant.|
|Time from Seed to Harvest||Between 100 and 140 days.|
|Pests & Diseases||Aphids, Whiteflies, Earwigs, Lygus Bugs, Fungus Gnats, Thrips, Loopers, Spider Mites.|
|What to do with it?||You can eat your bell peppers raw or use them for a variety of salads and many other dishes.|
What Types and Varieties of Bell Peppers can you grow?
There are numerous different bell pepper varieties you can grow. I listed the most popular ones for you in the following.
While I prefer growing Bayonet bell peppers since they taste quite good and also provide decent yields, you should choose whatever bell pepper variety you want to grow.
In fact, if you have never grown bell peppers before, you may want to grow more than one variety since it will simply be much more interesting to do so. Hence, you can also go for a bell pepper seed mix.
When should you start growing Bell Peppers?
You should start growing your bell peppers between March and May. I personally recommend you start as early as mid of March since bell peppers need plenty of time to grow and the sooner you start, the better are your chances that your bell peppers will get ripe in time.
How long does it take to grow Bell Peppers from Seed to Harvest?
It will take between 100 and 140 days to grow your bell peppers from seed to harvest for most people.
Of course, this also depends on various different factors like the overall climatic conditions, the soil conditions and also your individual skill level.
In fact, if you have never grown bell peppers before, it will likely take you significantly longer to grow bell peppers from seed to harvest compared to an experienced gardener who exactly knows what he’s doing.
However, if you follow all the steps in this article, you can expect to grow your bell peppers from sowing to harvesting within 140 days.
What is the best Climate to grow Bell Peppers?
Bell peppers grow best in rather moderate climatic zones. Hence, in most states of the US and of Western Europe, you will be just fine with growing bell peppers.
In fact, many bell pepper strains are quite robust to different climatic conditions and you should not worry too much as long as you don’t live in too extreme climatic regions of our planet.
What Temperatures do Bell Peppers like?
Bell peppers usually grow best in the temperature range between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, nothing in life is perfect and if you are not able to provide your plants with those outside conditions, you will still be able to grow bell peppers most of the time.
Yet, it will probably take you a bit longer to grow your bell peppers and you may also not be able to provide high yields if you don’t offer optimal growing conditions.
What do you need to grow Bell Peppers?
While growing bell peppers is not complicated at all, you still need some equipment to do so. I listed all you need to grow bell peppers below:
- Growing bed (to grow your bell pepper seedlings)
- Bell Peppers seeds (you can even produce your own seeds as explained in the next chapters)
- Flower pots (only necessary if you don’t have a garden to grow your bell peppers)
- Fertilizer (you can make your own organic fertilizer for which I give you the instructions below)
- Potting soil
- Sticks and cords to stake and stabilize your bell peppers
- Watering can
- Slug fence
- Compost (optional)
- Passion for growing bell peppers 😉
What Yield can you expect when you grow Bell Peppers?
You can expect to get 5 to 8 bell peppers per plant. However, please note that this also greatly depends on the overall conditions you offer to your plants.
You may also make some mistakes in your first year of growing bell peppers.
Hence, don’t be discouraged if you only harvest one or two bell peppers per plant.
After all, growing bell peppers is not only about the actual yield, it is about loving the process throughout the year.
For me, the harvest is just the final step of the growth process and I really enjoy it much more to see my bell peppers growing instead of finally getting the yield.
What to grow with Bell Peppers?
If you want to learn more about what plants you should grow with bell peppers, make sure to check out my article where I show you the best and worst bell pepper companion plants.
Why should you grow your own Bell Peppers?
Many people don’t understand why they should grow their own bell peppers. In fact, it is much easier and probably even cheaper to get your bell peppers from the grocery store instead of growing them at home.
However, apart from the financial factor, there are several other things to take into account when it comes to growing your own bell peppers.
First of all, growing bell peppers can simply be quite a lot of fun. I really enjoy growing my own bell peppers and growing peppers is just like a hobby for me.
Second, growing bell peppers gives me the opportunity to greatly lower my stress level. In fact, I work quite hard every day and when I finished working, I really love sitting next to my plants since it gives me an opportunity to unplug from my daily life.
Third, growing your own plants can also help you to understand how nature really works. In fact, many people in our current state of the world have completely lost their connection to nature.
Especially if you live in a big city and work in an office job for long hours, you will often lack the opportunity for nature activities.
However, growing bell peppers in your garden or on your balcony can give you the opportunity to bring a part of nature back to your home.
In fact, just a few decades ago, it was quite normal that people have grown their own vegetables at home instead of just buying them from the store.
Fourth, growing your own bell peppers can also benefit your health.
While bell peppers from conventional agriculture are often contaminated with significant amounts of harmful chemicals from pesticides and herbicides, you can make sure that you don’t use any chemicals in your growing projects at home.
Hence, as you can see, there are many arguments for growing your own bell peppers, even though it might not make too much sense from a purely financial standpoint.
Growing Bell Peppers: Step-by-Step
1. Select a Site for your Bell Pepper Plants
I hope I convinced you that growing your own bell peppers is indeed a good idea. If I had been successful, we can now get into the planning process for your bell pepper growing project.
When it comes to selecting the optimal site for growing bell peppers at home, we have to answer the following questions.
Do Bell Peppers like Sun or Shade?
Bell peppers love the sun. In fact, to grow your bell peppers in an optimal manner and to get decent yields, make sure that you choose a sunny spot in your garden or on your balcony.
Sure, many people will not have a garden where their plants get full sun all day long and this is also not necessary.
However, make the conditions as sunny as possible for your bell pepper plants so that they can grow in the best possible manner.
What are the Soil Requirements of Bell Peppers?
Bell peppers like slightly acidic soil conditions with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5.
It is not difficult to provide the optimal pH range for your bell peppers at all since you just have to get conventional potting soil from your garden center and you are good to go.
You can also mix the soil from your garden with potting soil from the store and you will be just fine in most regions.
However, make sure to loosen up your soil a little bit so that the roots of your bell peppers can grow in an optimal manner.
Also make sure that the water can vanish into the groundwater so that the roots of your bell pepper plants will not rot sooner or later.
How much Space do Bell Pepper Plants need?
Each bell pepper plant will need at least 5 square feet of space to grow in an optimal manner.
Hence, depending on the size of your garden, you can figure out by yourself how many bell peppers you will be able to grow and how you can use your space in the most efficient manner.
Should you plant Bell Peppers in your Garden or in a Pot?
Both options are possible. However, if you plant your bell peppers in a pot, you will not be able to plant a huge number of bell pepper plants since the space will simply not be sufficient to do so.
Hence, if you have a garden and want to get really serious about growing bell peppers in large quantities, I definitely recommend you to plant your bell peppers in your garden since the overall conditions will be better and your bell pepper plants can also grow in a more natural manner compared to growing them in pots with rather limited space.
2. Plant Bell Pepper Seeds
Now that you determined the optimal growing site for your bell peppers, we have to get into the actual growing process.
Should you buy Bell Pepper Seeds or Seedlings?
First of all, you have to decide whether you want to grow your own bell pepper seedlings or if you rather want to get bell pepper seedlings from the store.
I personally recommend you to grow your own bell pepper seedlings since it is just the first main step to grow bell peppers from seed to harvest and if you skip this step, you will just not get the full growing experience.
Thus, instead of relying on bell pepper seedlings from the store, try to raise your own seedlings.
It is not difficult at all and I will give you all the instructions for how to grow your seedlings step-by-step in the following chapters.
Should you buy Bell Pepper Seeds or produce Seeds by yourself?
If I convinced you that growing your own bell pepper seedlings is indeed a good idea, you now have to decide whether you want to use your own seedlings or if you just want to get some bell pepper seeds from a seed company.
Both options are just fine. I would recommend you to extract your own seeds in order to make your growing experience even richer.
You just need to get a bell pepper from your local store, cut it into half and extract the seeds from the inside of your bell pepper and you are good to go.
Of course, you can also get a variety of different bell peppers and extract the seeds so you can grow more than one bell pepper variety.
And don’t throw those bell peppers away after you extracted the seeds. Use them for a salad or for other dishes so that you don’t produce any unnecessary food waste.
How to plant Bell Pepper Seeds
You got your bell pepper seeds from a seed company or have extracted them by yourself? Great! Now it is time to actually plant those seeds.
Just fill your growing bed with potting soil from your garden center. After that, place your bell pepper seeds onto the soil.
Make sure that you leave at least three inches of space between each seed so that your bell pepper seedlings can grow in an ideal manner.
After placing all of your seeds, just cover them with an additional potting soil layer of around 1 inch in height and water your growing bed.
Put it on a nice, bright and warm spot in your home and just wait. Make sure that you plant more seeds than you want to get seedings.
Not all seeds will germinate and you should plant around the double number of seeds than you need seedlings.
To give you an example, let’s assume you want to raise 10 bell pepper seedlings.
In this case, I advise you to plant around 20 bell pepper seeds so that you can be pretty sure to reach this goal.
How long does it take to see the first Bell Pepper Seedlings?
Most of the time, you will see the first seedlings reaching the soil surface after one to two weeks.
However, it can take up to one month until all your bell pepper seedlings will become visible to your eyes.
If you haven’t grown enough seedlings after one month, you should not expect any new seedlings to reach the soil surface anymore and if you want to get some additional seedlings, you should plant more seeds in your growing bed in the spots where seeds have not germinated and that are still empty due to that.
How to protect your Bell Pepper Seedlings
Since you will raise your bell pepper seedlings inside your home for the first weeks, you don’t need to protect them too much.
In fact, if you don’t have any pets, your bell pepper seedlings don’t need any additional protection and you just have to make sure that you water them on a regular basis.
If you have pets, make sure that your pets will not be able to reach your growing bed to protect your bell pepper seedlings from any unpleasant surprises 😉.
When should you transplant your Bell Pepper Seedlings?
The best time to transplant your bell pepper seedlings is when the following two criteria are met.
First, the climatic conditions have to be suitable to transplant your bell pepper outdoors.
This means that outside temperatures should no longer drop below the freezing mark.
Second, you also have to make sure that your seedlings are big and robust enough before actually planting them outside.
I would wait until your bell peppers reach a size of at least 5 inches in height so that they will be resistant enough to deal with the harsh outside conditions.
If your bell pepper seedlings meet both requirements, it is time to start the transplanting process. Before you can actually transplant your bell peppers, you first have to prepare your site.
Just dig holes in your garden that are at least 5 square feet in size and at least one foot deep.
After that, mix the soil from your garden with potting soil from the store. You can also add additional compost if you like to.
After you created your soil mix, just refill the holes you dug with the soil mix and transplant one bell pepper seedling into each spot.
Finally, just water your seedlings and you are done.
In case you want to transplant your bell pepper seedlings into a pot, fill your pot with potting soil and transplant your seedlings.
However, as mentioned before, I would recommend you to grow your bell peppers in your garden instead of using a pot if you have the opportunity to do so.
What kind of Protection do Bell Pepper Seedlings need outdoor?
After you transplanted your seedlings outdoors, there are some additional dangers you have to deal with.
In fact, snails and other creatures will just be waiting until they can feed on your bell pepper seedlings.
Hence, if you don’t want to wake up some day and wonder where all your seedlings have gone, make sure to install a slug fence to properly protect your bell pepper seedlings.
3. The Bell Pepper Growth Process
After you transplanted and protected your bell pepper seedlings in a proper manner, the hardest part is already done. If you made it to this point, congratulations!
I know that it takes some effort, but if you are like me, you really love the growth process and everything that comes along with it.
Now that you did most of the manual work, you still have to worry about a few things which I discuss in the following.
Should you prune your Bell Peppers?
Pruning bell peppers is a rather controversial topic in the gardening world. While some people advocate pruning bell peppers, I am not a big fan of pruning at all.
In fact, pruning can be considered as human interference with nature and in my opinion, we should rather let nature do its work instead of interfering too much with it.
I personally have seen pretty good results from just letting my bell peppers grow without pruning them at all.
Do you have to pollinate your Bell Peppers Plants by Hand?
No, there is no need to pollinate your bell peppers by hand.
In fact, if you grow a significant number of bell peppers, you will be surprised of how many insects you will attract to your growing site that will do the work for you.
Hence, there is no further manual action required from you in this regard.
How to stake your Bell Pepper Plants
You should definitely stake your bell pepper plants to protect them against heavy winds and other extreme weather conditions.
You can just anchor big bamboo sticks in the soil next to each bell pepper plant and tie your plants to those sticks.
Make sure that you make additional ties once your bell peppers get bigger so that your bell peppers are staked and tied properly.
4. The Bell Pepper Harvest
I hope you followed all of the steps to grow your bell peppers from seed to harvest properly.
If you did, you should see pretty decent yields once it is time to harvest your bell peppers.
When should you harvest your Bell Peppers?
For red or orange bell peppers, it is pretty easy to determine when they are ready to harvest since you can simply have a look at the color and harvest them when the respective color has been reached.
However, for green bell peppers, it will be a little bit more difficult. In such a case, you should just wait until your bell peppers have reached a satisfying size.
This should be in late summer or early fall. After you got to this point, just harvest one bell pepper and taste it. If it tastes as it should, harvest the rest of your bell peppers.
If not, wait a little bit longer and give your other crops time to develop a little bit further.
How to store your Bell Peppers?
The best location to store your bell peppers is in a dark, dry and cold spot in your home.
However, although you can store bell peppers for a few weeks if conditions are optimal, I would not advise you to wait that long.
Instead, just eat your bell peppers right after you harvested them since they will taste the best and will also contain the most precious nutrients at this point in time.
What should you do with your Bell Peppers?
Bell peppers can be used for a huge variety of different dishes. While you could just use them to make a delicious salad, you can also stuff them with ground meat or make a dip out of them.
Opportunities are endless and if you are a person who likes to do many new things, you could also try to create your own bell pepper dishes and recipes.
Just use your bell peppers for whatever you want. You did all the work to grow them and therefore, you should decide for what to use them 😉.
Bell Pepper Plant Care Tips
You’ve already got all the information you need to grow bell peppers from seed to harvest step-by-step.
However, some general information is still missing which I provide you with in the following chapters.
How often should you irrigate Bell Peppers?
In general, you should water your bell peppers on a regular basis. Especially on hot summer days, you will have to water your bell pepper plants every day so that they get sufficient moisture to stay alive.
Hence, especially if you are on vacation in summer, make sure that you have someone who can take care of your bell peppers and water them since they will die off otherwise.
If you are not sure whether it is time to water your bell peppers, you can just use the following simple tip. Just dig a small hole with your finger into the soil next to your bell pepper plant.
Pull your finger out of the hole. If soil sticks to your finger, this means that the soil is still wet enough and you don’t need to water your plants right now.
However, if no soil sticks to your finger, this means that the soil is dry and that you should water your plants pretty soon.
While this trick can be quite helpful for beginners, you will no longer need it when you get more advanced since you will develop a pretty good intuition regarding when it will be time to water your plants.
At what Time of the Day should you water your Bell Pepper Plants?
While some experts claim that the best time to water your bell peppers is in the early morning, I personally haven’t seen too much difference between watering my bell peppers in the morning or in the evening.
In my opinion, it is far more important to provide water to your bell peppers whenever they need it instead of just watering them according to a rather rigid and useless schedule.
How often should you fertilize your Bell Pepper Plants?
If you followed the soil mix recipe I mentioned above, the soil should already contain plenty of nutrients and if you gave your bell peppers enough space to develop, they may not even need additional fertilizer.
In fact, many beginners make the mistakes to use too much fertilizer which can do much more harm than good since it can burn the roots of your plants.
What kind of Fertilizer should you use for your Bell Pepper Plants?
If you really want to use additional fertilizer for your bell pepper plants, make sure that you choose an organic one instead of chemical fertilizer to protect our environment.
You can either buy organic fertilizer or just make your own organic fertilizer. You just need to collect some stinging nettles, cover them with water in a bucket and let it sit for a few days.
After a few days, just remove the stinging nettles and you have a perfectly natural fertilizer which you can use with the water from your watering can.
Should you use Pesticides or Herbicides for Growing Bell Peppers?
Stinging nettle liquid is not only great as fertilizer, it can also help to deter many pests from your plants.
In fact, if you spray stinging nettle liquid onto your bell peppers, it will act as natural pesticide since many pests just don’t like the taste of stinging nettles.
Hence, there is simply no need to use chemical pesticides and I highly recommend you use organic pesticides like stinging nettle liquid instead.
To deal with weeds, just remove them by hand and you are good to go.
To get more information on how to get rid of pests, make sure to also check out my article on pepper pests and plant diseases.
What’s left to say?
Thank you very much for reading my article to the end. I know it was a long ride, but to show you all the steps that are required to grow bell peppers from seed to harvest, I was not able to make this bell pepper grower’s guide any shorter.
I hope you liked this article and that it was helpful to you. If so, make sure to share it.
Also feel free to read my additional grower’s guides. And now it’s your turn! Stop reading and start growing! 😉
You want to learn more about peppers in general? Make sure to also check out my grower’s guide on how to grow peppers.
About the author
My name is Andreas and I’m really passionate about our environment and also about growing plants. In fact, I have grown several different plants over many years. I love to see my own plants grow and always try new things.
In my blog posts, I want to share my experiences with you so that you can become successful in growing various different plants, even if you are still a beginner right now.