The Bell Pepper Planting Guide: A To Z

Growing beautiful bells…

The bell pepper may not notch even a tick on the pepper scale, but we all know its deliciousness nevertheless. It’s a staple veggie with a ton of taste and a heck of a lot of versatility. For those looking for a well-rounded garden, growing bell peppers is a must. Let’s walk through what you need to know to begin cultivating these sweet beauties. 

Bell pepper planting fast facts

Scoville heat units:
Bell peppers have a rating of 0 Scoville heat units. No heat.

PepperScale profile:

Buy bell pepper seeds:
Buy from Amazon.

Light requirements:
The plants need at least 8 hours of sunlight each day.

Soil requirements:
Bell peppers need soil that is well drained and able to retain moisture.

Space requirements:
Bell pepper plants should be at least two feet away from neighboring plants; 3 feet is optimal.

Water requirements:
Provide bell peppers with 2 inches of water each week.

Fruits will develop within two to three months of spring planting.

Plant size:
Plants can range from 3 to 6 feet in height and are typically between 18 and 24 inches across.

Chili size:
Bell peppers are usually between 4 and 5 inches long with the average diameter being between 2 and 3 inches.

Bell peppers can thrive in containers but they will need at least a 2-gallon container with a depth of about 16 inches.

Where and when to grow bell pepper

If you live in an area with a colder climate, start your growing bell pepper plants indoors for best results. Do not place seedlings in direct light but position them so that they receive indirect light. Move them outdoors when soil temperatures have stabilized at about 65 degrees and there is no danger of frost. If your summers are mild, consider planting your bell pepper plants near a wall that faces south so that it can benefit from reflected light and heat.

Successful bell pepper planting requires that the soil have a pH in the 6.2 to 7.0 range though the plants can survive in soil that is up to 7.5. Add a layer of compost to the area where the pepper seedlings are being transplanted.

Note that when growing bell pepper plants in containers, it may be necessary to drill additional holes to ensure proper drainage.

Feeding and watering bell pepper plants

In most parts of the country, bell peppers can do well with a once or twice per week watering schedule; however, they will need more intensive watering in warmer climates. If your climate is warm and dry, it may be necessary to water daily.

Lightly fertilize soil when transplanting and then again after the first fruit set. The best type of fertilizer is a low-nitrogen blend as too much nitrogen can lead to healthy-looking leaves but few fruit.

When to pick

Bell peppers are edible even when green but you can also wait until they develop their color to harvest them. Bell peppers are sweeter when ripe. Cut the pepper from the plant with scissors or garden shears to minimize damage to the stem or branches.

Look out for these potential issues:

Bell peppers can develop a condition called sunscald from getting too much sunlight. Even though they do best in full sunlight, it should be moderated.

  • Like most peppers, bell peppers cannot tolerate heat above 90 degrees. If your temperatures spike to this extreme, you may find that your bell pepper plants start losing blossoms.
  • Bell peppers may need cages or stakes to support them and prevent bowing down from the weight of the fruit.
  • Keep bell peppers away from other pepper plants to avoid cross-pollination with other pepper varieties.

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on September 5, 2019 to include new content.
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