Growing Peppers

Sweet Bell Peppers – Growing

Sweet bell peppers growing isn’t all that hard, but you do need to know a few things to raise your chance for success!  Here are some things you need to know about growing your own sweet bell peppers.

Pepper Needs

All sweet bell peppers have the same basic needs, which include:

  • Sunlight – at least 6 hours per day; 8 hours is even better.  But be careful about too much sunlight in some instances!
  • Warmth – peppers love warm to hot weather, but it doesn’t mean you can’t grow them in cooler climates.  Check out the bell peppers to consider.
  • Water – most peppers like moist, well-drained soil.

Let’s talk more about the above three items for your homegrown sweet bell peppers.

Sunlight and Sweet Bell Peppers

When choosing where you grow your sweet bell peppers, the first thing to consider is sunlight.  There isn’t much way around sweet bell peppers needing at least six hours of direct sunlight per day, but you also need to consider that you can actually have too much sunlight in some situations.

If you live in a place where your sunlight is extreme, you may have to actually provide a bit of shade when growing bell peppers.  For example, growing sweet peppers in the southern part of the United States, or in the desert Southwest, you’ve got the double whammy of intense sunlight + intense heat.  You may want to situate your pepper garden in a location where the peppers will get some light shade in the hottest part of the day.

If you live at a high altitude, you will also need to consider intense sunlight and the effect on the peppers.  But if you don’t also have the intense heat, you may only need to be concerned with shading the sweet bell peppers themselves, so  that they don’t get sunscald.  Part of that can be accomplished by making sure the bell pepper variety you are growing has a good foliage cover.

Growing Bell Peppers and Warmth

With growing bell peppers, warmth is also a major consideration — they like it very warm.  Which makes sense if you think about it, because peppers in general originated in Central and South America — quite warm regions!

They are happiest with temperatures in the 80s (Fahrenheit) during the days, and in the 60s at night.  Most sweet bell peppers take 75  to 80 days from transplant to grow into sweet green peppers, ready to pick and eat.  But if you want ripe bell peppers, that may take anywhere from another 2 weeks to a month before they turn their final color.

Bell peppers will quit growing at 55 degrees, so you need to consider the number of cool days you have in a growing season, as that may extend the time for ripe peppers.  Solution?  Grow a sweet bell pepper which needs a shorter time to harvest.  Some varieties include:

  • King of the North
  • Northstar Hybrid
  • Red Beauty Hybrid

What about frost?  Frost will kill the bell peppers, so you need to be aware of your growing season – the date of your average latest expected frost to your average first expected frost.  Unless you have some kind of frost protection, don’t think about transplanting them to the garden before the average last frost date for your area.  And frost protection may not mean freeze protection!

Growing Sweet Peppers and Water

Sweet bell peppers need adequate water, but they definitely don’t like wet feet!  Those growing sweet peppers need to be kept moist, and they like well-drained soil.  (You can check out the post for what kind of soil peppers like for more info.)

You also need to consider how much sun your peppers get, along with how hot it is!  If your peppers are in full sun all day and you live in a hot location, you may need to water every day in order to keep your sweet bell peppers from wilting (which can hurt the pepper development).  A thick layer of mulch will help in these situations, along with making sure you have a good soil that retains enough water without making the roots swim.

Hope this information helps you grow your own sweet bell peppers (or peppers in general).  🙂

What Peppers Have Capsaicin?

What peppers have capsaicin?  That’s the question of the day, if you are looking either for hot peppers — or those that are not!  So what is capsaicin, and what peppers have it?

What is Capsaicin?

The first thing is to understand what capsaicin is.  For one, it’s the component that make spicy peppers taste spicy.  In its pure form, it’s highly irritant, but highly diluted (like in your average chili pepper) it can provide that pleasurable kick of heat.

Capsaicin is also used an as ingredient in many medical ointments — surprisingly, as an analgesic!  Very interesting for a chemical which is an irritant.  Just a little can help relieve pain, while a lot can cause burns.

Capsaicin does not dissolve in water, so if you are eating a pepper and it’s too hot for you, don’t drink water or soda — it will just spread it around your mouth.  Instead, something dairy based like sour cream, milk or ice cream will help to cool the burning sensation.

In it’s pure form, capsaicin has a Scoville rating of 16,000,000 (yes, 16 million).  And you thought Bhut Jokolia was super-hot at something over 1 million Scoville!

What Peppers Have Capsaicin?

Now that we know what it is, what peppers have capsaicin?  A few years ago I would have said that bell peppers don’t have it; however, there are now bell peppers which have it.  Not many varieties, but there are at least three that I have heard about.  The vast majority of the time, bell peppers will not have the capsaicin in them.  (You have to go looking for the bells that have some capsaicin.)

What about other peppers, especially the ones marketed as being “no heat” (like “no heat habaneros”) — do they have capsaicin?

In general, peppers listed as being sweet will not have it, or will have capsaicin in such low quantities as to be absent.  Examples include sweet banana peppers and sweet frying peppers.  There are also a few ornamental peppers which have very low or no capsaicinSweet Pickle and Chilly Chilli are two that come to mind.

  • Note:  If you are familiar with the seasoning called Old Bay, it has a Scoville rating of about 800.  This gives you a point of reference for comparing.

As to the hot pepper varieties marketed as being “no heat” versions of the hot stuff…don’t count on there being no capsaicin in these peppers.  What they have is just a little bit (usually under 400 Scoville), and it’s mostly concentrated in the seeds and the placenta (the light membrane on the inside ribs of the pepper).  If you remove those before eating, you’ll have reduced your chance of some accidental “hot stuff” a great deal.

One other thing — there is less capsaicin in an unripe pepper.  As a pepper ripens, the capsaicin concentrates more.  So eating the peppers while they are in their green state (or whatever color their unripe state is) will also help reduce the burn.

Conversely, waiting until the hot peppers are ripe will increase the heat!

Looking for Some Hot Stuff?

I mentioned above that you’ll mostly find capsaicin in the seeds and the placental membrane.  However, for the true hot peppers (those marketed as being hot), you’ll also find it in the “meat” of the pepper.  And on the outside of the peppers as well.

For example, if you’re picking habaneros, scotch bonnets or any of the super-hots, you’re well advised to wear disposable gloves while doing so.  You probably also want to plant the really hot peppers in a corner of the garden where you won’t easily brush up against them.  The capsaicin on the exterior of the pepper can transfer to your clothing, and from your clothing to somewhere sensitive.

Been there, done that, it’s not comfortable.  But I can’t deny that really hot peppers are super-fun to grow (carefully, LOL)!

What Kind of Soil Do Peppers Like?

So what kind of soil do peppers like?  Glad you asked, because the soil you use for planting your peppers has a lot to do with how they grow.

Soil Types

There are three main soil types.  Different locations have different soils, so if you plan to plant your garden in the ground, you need to know what you have.

  • Sandy
  • Clay
  • Loam

If you want to know more about these soil types, here’s a post all about them.  But on to what the peppers like.

Peppers Like What Soil?

As you might guess, peppers like a balanced soil — not quite sandy, not quite clay.  But let’s think about that a little more.

Wild peppers originated in Central and South America, and the soils there are definitely more sandy than clay or loam — so it’s loose and well-draining.  But there are also peppers which grew in soils that were a bit richer, if they grew in a more jungle-ish area.  Still, the soil tended to be well-draining.

That is where peppers started; what about growing them in your garden?

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Wild peppers were in more sandy soil, but now our pepper plants are domesticated, and their needs have some changes.

Peppers still like well-draining soil, but not necessarily sandy.  They do like their nutrients, though, so not too well-draining — they just don’t like to constantly have wet feet.  Loose soil lets the new, small roots penetrate easily, in their search for nutrients and moisture.  The looseness also lets the roots breath a bit.

They also like their nutrients!  We’re growing peppers for production, or to be ornamental (which is production, if  you think about it).  They need nutrients in the form of fertilizer, whether it is organic, non-organic or a mix of both, to support their bounty.  Just remember not to over-fertilize.  (Here’s more information about organic fertilizers and fertilizing pepper plants.)

I’ve been mostly talking garden soil, but the same also applies to peppers grown in containers.  One extra thing to remember about containers is that they need drainage.  Make sure your planter has a hole for the water to drain out, or use a grow bag which lets the water drain without holes.