How Long Does it Take to Grow a Pepper?

How long does it take to grow a pepper plant?  Growing peppers is really rewarding (not to mention tasty!), but sometimes frustrating at first.  Let me tell you why.

Growing Peppers From Seed

The double-trouble for how long it takes to grow a pepper plant from seed is that peppers like more warmth to germinate from seeds, and they take longer (on average) to sprout, compared to other plants (tomatoes, beans, etc.).  And if you are growing the really hot varieties of peppers, you could wait up to a month before you see the little peppers starting to emerge from the ground.

Fortunately, if you get a heat mat for seed germinating, it helps a great deal.  The pepper seeds appreciate the extra warmth, and they germinate a good deal faster — even the super-hot varieties.  I’ve used it lots in the past, and I just got myself a new one this year.

Good rule of thumb if you plan to go the seed route; plant the pepper seeds 7 to 9 weeks before the last frost date for your area — more like 11 to 12 weeks for the super-hot peppers.  And you may want to wait until your nights are consistently 55 degrees of warmer before transplanting to the garden.

Growing Peppers From Plants

If you are too late to start seeds (or just don’t feel like it) but want to grow peppers, you can get plants from your local garden center.  It’s more expensive than growing from seed, but it is easier — just buy, get home and plant.  Your local garden center will likely have varieties that grow well in your area.

It’s awfully tempting to buy a plant that already has peppers on it — but try not to.  Otherwise, cut off the peppers before planting.  Unless it’s in a large pot (at least 2 gallons), the plant is pretty stressed trying to grow with very little soil.  Adding more stress from blooming and growing fruit, your pepper will be set back quite a bit.

Get a plant that looks healthy — not spindly, and not with lots of roots growing way out of the bottom (a few OK — lots, not so much).

And keep in mind…unless you have some kind of protection for your plants, don’t transplant them to the garden before the last frost date for your area.  Better yet, wait until the nighttime lows are consistently 55 degrees or more.

Now It’s in the Ground — How Long Does it Take to Grow a Pepper Plant?

Assuming your weather is decent (days at least in the upper 60s, lows no lower than 55) and the plants get plenty of sunshine, you can start seeing blossoms pretty quickly — many times within a week or two from transplanting. 

As to how long before you get a pepper that is “ready-to-eat-green”, the answer is “it depends”.  A sweet pepper will grow fruits much faster on average than the really hot peppers.  And the warmer your climate, the faster your peppers will grow and ripen.

You’ll have to check the days to maturity for the peppers you plan to grow — it lists the days from setting out in the garden until you see the first ready-to-eat-green fruits.  On average that is 65 to 75 days for sweet peppers and 75 to 90 days for the hotter peppers.  And if you grow the really hot ones like habanero or bhut jolokia, you could be waiting for more than 100 days.

If you want ripe peppers — after they have turned their final color (red, orange, yellow, etc.) — be prepared to wait up to another 2 weeks.

FYI, the peppers in the photo are the variety cayenne yellow.

Peppers Planned for 2020

It’s pepper seed time!  I decided that I would go the “all seed” route for the 2020 growing season.  Although I probably won’t be doing any actual planting of seeds for several more weeks, I have all my seeds ordered.  So what’s in store for 2020 in my new location?

Hot Cha Cha!

I don’t have any super-hot peppers planned for this year, but I do have some hot ones ordered!  Here’s the hot pepper seeds on the way:

  • Purple Jalapeno:  Seeing as I am also growing a non-heat jalapeno, I wanted to make my spicy jalapeno a different color so I could tell the two apart.
  • Bolivian Rainbow:   I grew this many years ago, then had a hard time finding it again.  Success!  This is mostly ornamental, but the peppers are definitely edible and quite hot.  I love the way these peppers have multiple colors of peppers on the bush all at once.
  • Buena Mulata:  Another purple pepper.  This one is more like a cayenne pepper, and about the same heat.
  • Tricked You Jalapeno:  This is the no-heat jalapeno.  I tried to grow the “Fooled You” a few years back, and I guess this one is the newer version.
  • Numex Suave Orange:  Supposedly a no-heat habanero.  I am not sure that every pepper will be no-heat, so I will be careful when tasting the peppers.
  • Aji de Sazonar:  Another no-heat pepper, this time more like a serrano in shape.  Supposed to be great for drying and grinding into a seasoning powder.
  • Tobago Seasoning:  A no-heat scotch bonnet pepper.  Again, not sure that the heat will be absent from all peppers, but I imagine that the seeds and membranes will be what’s really hot.

A few more of the non-heat hot peppers than is usual for me, bit it will be really interesting to see how “no heat” the no heat peppers will be. Hmmm, now that I have all these listed out, I may hold off on either the Numex Suave Orange or the Tobago Seasoning until next year.

Cool It!

As to the sweet peppers, here’s the run-down:

  • Chilly Chilli:  Just an ornamental pepper.  I seem to recall I tried this a few years back and didn’t have any luck, but I wanted a low-ish growing ornamental pepper that was safe to brush up against (i.e., no hot oils getting on my hands or clothes).
  • Yum Yum Mix:  Mini bell peppers, kind of like the ones I’ve been seeing pop up in the grocery stores lately.
  • Sweet Pickle:  Another ornamental, a lot like Bolivian Rainbow, but with a slightly larger pepper.  This one is like Chilly Chilli, supposed to be safe to brush up against, etc.
  • Petit Marseillais:  Something like a cross between a bell pepper and a frying pepper, but more like the bell.  Supposed to be very sweet.
  • Roumanian Sweet:  This is a bell pepper.  I grew it many years ago, it changes color from a pale greenish-white to purple to orange and then red.  It was quite tasty.

All in all, this should be an interesting year for peppers.

Planting Seeds

I have a couple new seed sprouting things I want to trial, so that post will be coming up (actually, probably more like a series of posts).

Planning the Garden, New Location

Planning a garden is both stressful and a whole lot of fun!  Why both?  If you’re like me, you don’t have a ton of room, but there is so much you want to plant.  😀

Moving the Garden

My garden planning is way different this year from any year in the past.  Why?  Because I moved from South Florida to Tennessee — a really big difference as far as climate goes, not to mention things like sunlight, soil, etc.

For instance — I was trying to plant some daffodil bulbs (always wanted to grow them) several weeks ago.  I discovered that the soil here is very different from S Florida.  Down there, it was mostly sand — up here, it’s mostly red clay and rocks.  I did get some daffodil bulbs planted, but it was a losing battle.

I had a nice spot all picked out for the garden, about 12 feet by 7 feet, perfect sunny spot until afternoon after which I get dappled shade.  I even got a compost tumbler and had it set up nearby.  When the reality of the soil sunk in (so to speak), my plan to rototill and amend with compost, etc. got thrown out the window.  *sigh*

Grow Bags to the Rescue

Fortunately, I’ve had some really good experiences with grow bags, so when the planting in the ground plan went out the door, the grow bags stepped in.  I’ll have to get a lot of them, because now it opens up a few other planting spot options.  For example, I’ll have a great place away from the main growing area for some ornamental peppers.

How many grow bags you ask?  Probably at least 30.  No, not all will be peppers — gotta have some tomatoes, some cukes, lettuce and some for those daffodils!  Hmmm, might end up being more than 30.  I’ll have some 3 gallon, some 5-gallon and a few 7-gallon grow bags.  Thought about some 10-gallon, and I haven’t decided.

I actually already bought a few 3-gallon grow bags and 5-gallon grow bags, because I wanted to re-acquaint myself with the sizes before getting a lot more.  The 3-gallon will be be great for the ornamentals and some of the smaller-growing peppers.  The larger-growing will need the 5-gallon.

(Note:  If the above links are somehow not working, try these for the 3-gallon, the 5-gallon and the 7-gallon grow bags.  Oh, and the compost tumbler as well.)

Climate Differences

This will be really interesting.  For where I lived in S Florida, we had two short growing seasons — from about mid-February to late April, then from late August to November.  From May to late August the plants just keel over — if not from the heat and humidity, then from diseases attributable to the heat and humidity.

(But due to the number of hurricanes we’ve had come near to where I lived, I had to quit growing in the August -> November season.)  November to February was too iffy — sometimes we had cool winters, sometimes we had freezes and I lost most of my plants.

Now that I am in USDA zone 7a, my last average frost date is around the middle of April, and I can expect the first frost somewhere in October.  Instead of two shorter seasons, I have one longer one.

OK, enough about the move!  The next post will be about the peppers I am planning to grow this year.