Getting Started with Growing and Harvesting Peppers

Getting Started with Growing and Harvesting Peppers
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Getting Started with Growing and Harvesting Peppers

Peppers Are Easy Plants to Grow, Perfect for Novice and Seasoned Gardeners

closeup of red and green bell pepperscloseup of red and green bell peppers

Peppers love full sunshine—at least six hours of direct sunlight per day—and prefer a long, warm growing season, so indoor germination is recommended.

When it’s time to transfer, plant peppers close together in well-draining soil in full sunshine, making sure to keep them well-watered throughout the season.

With proper care, you’ll reap a rainbow of salad-ready peppers in 50 to 80 days of sowing!

Tossed into a summer salad, fried up and piled on sausage, stuffed with more goodness—is there any wrong way to enjoy a pepper? These crunchy, zesty veggies run the gamut from tangy-sweet to unbearably spicy, meaning there’s a variety that appeals to just about every foodie and gardener out there. Because of this, peppers are among the hottest garden plants around, and—bonus!—they’re quite easy to grow.

Scoville heat scale graphicScoville heat scale graphic

Pepper Varieties: Which Pepper Plant to Choose?

From hot to sweet, to multicolored bell peppers, there is truly a pepper variety to appeal to every taste bud. So, how do you know which pepper plant to choose for your garden? If you’re new to all things gardening, we recommend sticking to a few easy-to-grow varieties during your first season, such as:

  • California Wonder – You’re probably already familiar with this heavy-bearing, disease-resistant pepper since it’s among the most popular bell peppers around!
  • Corno Di Toro –This sweet, heirloom frying pepper is a staple in Italian cuisine, beloved for its huge size and dramatically twisted shape.
  • Anaheim – These large, meaty peppers are well-protected by foliage throughout their growth cycle, making them great for first-time growers. They’re tasty, too!
  • Early Jalapeño – The fact that they’re very heavy-yielding over a long season is just one reason why the early jalapeño reigns. Its hot, punchy flavor is another.

Growing Peppers from Seedlings

Peppers prefer a long, warm season, so early, indoor germination is recommended. Germination should occur in 10 to 15 days, and fruit should appear in 50 to 80 days from sowing.

Peppers are easy to grow, but they do prefer a long, warm season and at least six to eight hours of sunlight per day. Because of this, we recommend starting your pepper seeds about eight weeks before the last frost at a temperature of between 75 and 80 degrees F. The easiest way to do this is to use the climate-controlled Park Seed Bio-Dome coupled with potting mix or Jiffy Pots.

Simply plant your seeds in your potting mix, at a depth of about four times the size of the seed, so the roots have room to develop. You can encourage seeds to grow quickly by exposing them to near-constant fluorescent light (about 14 to 16 hours per day). You want to keep seedlings evenly moist and not over-saturated in these early stages, so we recommend watering them with a fine spray of warm water.

Be sure to read our complete guide to growing pepper plants for more information on how to grow big, hearty peppers from seeds.

Planting Pepper Seedlings in the Ground

Peppers should be planted at least two weeks after the final frost and can be planted about 30 inches from one another in well-drained soil. Make sure to put them somewhere with plenty of sun.

Before you transplant your seedlings, you’ll need to harden off the plants so they can acclimate to the outdoors at a reasonable pace. Set them outside, preferably in a partially shaded area, for an hour or two at first, extending the time spent outside each day. Pay attention to those surprise late frosts and bring your plants indoors if the cold suddenly returns uninvited. It’s time to transplant your peppers once they’ve developed their third set of leaves.

Be sure to transplant your peppers at least two weeks after that final frost, when you’re fully confident that spring is in full swing—in some areas of the country, this can be tricky! Plant them close to each other, about 30 to 36 inches apart, in a sunny location with rich soil that drains well. Make sure to water frequently and mulch on occasion to conserve moisture and to keep your peppers in healthy shape throughout the season.

When and How to Harvest Peppers

It’s been a lot of hard work caring for your sweet little peppers since they were just tiny seeds, and you should be proud now that it’s time to pick! Peppers aren’t as fragile or quick to ripen as some other plants, so you don’t have to follow a strict timeline of harvesting. You can either clip them as soon as they’re big enough to eat or let them ripen gradually into unique flavors and textures, tasting as you go. Make sure to cut the fruit, rather than pull with your hand, using your gardening shears or cutters.

Grow Something Good with Park Seed

Regardless of whether you’re in the market for some make-your-palms-sweat hot pepper seeds or some super-sweet varieties for snacking on raw, you’ll find them in our top-notch selection of pepper seeds. With an incredible variety and the resources to help you ensure that every seedling grows into a show-stopper, Park Seed is your premium pepper partner this growing season.