You might have always entertained the idea of growing your own peppers, but you might have been warned off by how daunting the whole process is. Not only do you have to find the right soil and lighting situation, but you will have to be sure that they are nurtured properly during the first few weeks of growing.
However, growing your own peppers is not as hard as it sounds. By reading our easy-to-understand guide for bell peppers, we will give you everything that you need for a decent bell pepper that will not only look wonderful but taste positively divine.
In this article, we’ll cover it all: the first few days of your sapling’s growth, how to transfer your young plants from one pot to another, how many peppers you can expect from your first yield, as well as how long you should water them.
So what exactly is the best method for growing your plants? How can you pot them and water them in such a manner that they’ll shoot up in growth? How can you plant the seeds correctly? How can you transfer your bell peppers from the inside to the outside without damaging the roots or the stalk?
Well, we have answers to all these questions and a lot more, with our comprehensive guide to growing these bell pepper plants in pots. We’ll cover every stage of your plant’s development and, by the end, you’ll be an expert in growing them. We also have a section that addresses common concerns that arise regarding bell pepper growth.
A Quick Guide To Growing Your Bell Peppers In A Pot
For those of you who might be short of time, this is a quick potting and growing guide for anyone who is looking to nurture their bell peppers to full and healthy growth. Later on in the article, we will cover every step of this in much more pronounced detail.
- Seeds and Tools - Buy everything that you need for your bell peppers to grow. This includes the right kind of bell pepper seeds, as well as the right tools (more of which later).
- Pot Your Seeds - Make sure that you pot your plant seeds indoors. Make sure that the soil is light and fluffy and that there is plenty of room for growth.
- Provide A Small Amount Of Light - we would recommend that you buy yourself some LED seed lights, although placing them in indirect sunlight is also fine.
- Fertilizer - provide your young plants with enough fertilizer to help them grow, it will be important that they have enough food for these early days.
- Transfer into new Pots - After 2-3 weeks of growth, you’ll need to transfer your bell pepper plants into larger pots.
- Pluck any early flowers - as counterintuitive as it might seem, we would recommend pruning any early flowers that grow, as this will give your plant a better chance of thriving.
- Harden The Plants - Once the risk of frost has gone, you’ll want to gradually acclimatize your plants to the outdoors, but putting them near an open window for a few hours a day. Do this between 2-4 weeks of growth.
- Water, water, water - Keep watering your bell peppers throughout the early growing stage. You can never water these plants enough, so make sure that the soil is always moist.
- Adjust Nutrient Content - Once your peppers have started to grow, then your plants will need less nitrogen and more phosphorus and calcium, so make sure to adjust your nutrient levels in your fertilizer accordingly.
- Harvest Your Peppers - Once your bell peppers are ripe enough, you’ll need to pick them. We would recommend that you harvest these when they are green in color, as they will continue to ripen to their traditional red for a few days afterward.
Now that we’ve given you a quick and concise guide to planting your peppers, we’ll go a little bit more in-depth, covering some of the science behind these plants as well as more detailed descriptions of the potting process.
Why It Is Better To Grow In A Pot
There are certainly many benefits to raising peppers in a pot as opposed to having them in soil. One of the best reasons for having a bell pepper grown in a pot is the increased mobility that you have. You can simply transfer your plant from one area to another, either for aesthetic purposes or if you want them to get more light.
That is another reason why potting a bell pepper is more preferable to soil growth: aesthetics. Often you’ll want to move your plant pots around, especially if you have moved into a new apartment or home and you might want to experiment with different placements of your pot.
Having bell peppers in pots will also reduce the amount that they’ll need to be weeded. With less soil comes fewer weeds that grow, so you won’t have to worry about untangling meters of weeds. With less weeding comes less maintenance, which is perfect for someone who is quite busy on a daily basis.
However, there are a few drawbacks to smaller pots, one of which being that you’ll need to water your plants a lot more, as there is less surface area in the soil. Because of this, you’ll also have much smaller yields, which means fewer peppers to go round for you and your family.
One way around this would be to get multiple pots and arrange them near indirect sunlight. However, this will also mean a lot more maintenance will need to be done. If you care about fresh peppers, then you might consider this time as worthwhile.
Potted plants will also take up more space on the inside of your home. If you are thinking of having more than one pot in your home, you’ll need to make sure that you have the right amount of space. Remember: these plants need to be put near a window, where they can get their fair share of sunlight.
Weighing up the two options, we would certainly say that potted peppers are a must-have for anyone with limited space. If you want to produce a lot of peppers, then we would suggest that you purchase more than one potted plant. It will all be a matter of trading off space for yield, so you’ll have to make a decision based on space restraints.
Now that we’ve covered some of the reasons that you might want to put your bell peppers in a pot, let’s look at what supplies that you’ll need to get yourself started.
What You’ll Need
When you’re thinking of growing any fruit or vegetables, you’re going to want to be sure that you’ve got the right supplies before you start with the tricky task of growing your plants in the first place.
Firstly, you’ll want to make sure that you have the right variety of seeds before you decide that potting your plants is the way to go. Remember that each variety of seed will be highly dependent on the type of soil that you plan on using, so make sure that your bell peppers match up correctly.
You can also get some bell pepper plants from a nursery, as they’ll already have grown and will allow you to skip some of the unnecessary grooming stages of early growth.
Now, you’ll need to get the right containers for your bell peppers. Having the right size and dimensions will be very important when it comes to growing these plants. We would recommend that you get a pot that can support around 3 gallons of soil and water. The bigger your container then the more voluminous the bell peppers will be.
If you are planning on using an older pot, then we would certainly recommend that you wash it thoroughly before you intend on using it. This is because plants can often transfer any bacteria or parasites to your new plants. It is very important that your old pot is thoroughly cleaned before transferring your new plant.
You’ll also need some seeding trays if you are thinking of growing your seeds fresh from the beginning. Make sure they are large enough for your fledgling seed to grow to its best size. We would also recommend that you have enough soil for this plant to grow.
Even though these seeds won’t spend too much time in their seedling tray, they will certainly need to be comfortable if you want them to grow quickly.
Picking up a set of seed lights will also be important when it comes to nurturing your early plants. We would recommend investing in an indoor grow light, as this will give your plants the best chance of growing as high as possible during these early stages.
We would also recommend that you pick up some seed starter soil, which traditionally has no additional nutrients. This is where fertilizer will come in handy, as you will need to make sure that the baby peppers have all the elements that they need to grow.
If you are going to plant your bell peppers in outdoor soil, then we would also recommend picking up a nice nutrient-rich soil from a local nursery. Your plant will want its fill of phosphates and calcium, so be sure that your fertilizer has a good mix of this stuff.
However, if your head is spinning with all this talk of nutrient quality in soil, don’t worry - you’ll be able to use MiracleGrow with your peppers. Most of the supermarket soils will have plenty of nutrients in them to give your plants the best chance of growing nice and healthy. Make sure that you fertilize your plants regularly to give them the best chance of growing.
How To Plant Your Seeds Properly
You might think that it’s super easy to plant a bell pepper, but there are a few basics that you’ll need to get right before plunging straight in with your bell pepper seed sprouts. Here are some quick tips that will help you make sure that your seeds get the best chance of growing:
The first thing you’ll have to determine is what hardiness zone that you live in. Ideally, you’ll be wanting to plant these around 6-8 weeks after the final frost likelihood in your area has occurred.
This means that you’ll be wanting to plant your bell peppers around March time, as the last frost time will be around mid-May. This will mean that your bell peppers will not succumb to the winter season and experience stunted growth or even death.
This will only be relevant if you are planning on planting your seeds outdoors. If you are an indoor grower, then you won’t have to pay any heed to this section.
Planting Your Bell Peppers
Now we’ll have a look at some of the more in-depth methods of planting your bell pepper seeds, mainly aimed at people who are planning on planting their bell peppers indoors.
- Make sure the soil is moist before planting - this is very important, as you want to give your peppers the best chance of growing. You’ll want to mix your soil in with the water, so that it sticks together but does not drip too much excess water out when squeezed.
- Fill your seed trays with soil - Make sure that each seed tray is filled with soil, packing it in firmly so that there are zero pockets of air.
- Once your trays are filled with soil, then you should plant your seeds about one-quarter inch deep into the soil. Plant around 2-3 seeds in each segment, as this will insure against any seeds not germinating.
- Prune - make sure that as your seedlings grow, then you are pruning back on any early developing flowers. This will ensure that the plants that flower at a later date will be nice and healthy.
- Water your seedlings lightly - once they have been planted, make sure that they are lightly watered. Try not to overwater them at this point and make sure that you are not disturbing the seeds once they have been planted.
- Make sure it is humid - these seeds will thrive on heat, so make sure the environment around them is warm and moist. We would recommend using a humidity dome, keeping the temperature around 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you follow these instructions properly, you should see these seedlings sprout within a few days of planting. Little green shoots will sprout from the surface. If you are not using a humidity dome, then we would recommend that you spray them regularly, so there is a little moisture on the leaves at all times.
Now that we’ve discussed planting, we’ll move onto an even more important stage of your bell pepper’s growth - the early days of your plant growing. This will be the all-important moment that will decide how your plant thrives and also how many peppers it will produce.
The Early Stages Of Growth
You’ll need to be sure that your seedlings are getting the right level of light and water during these early stages. Once you have seen your seeds have started to produce green shoots, then it will be time to remove your humidity dome and switch on your growing light.
One thing your seedlings will really thrive on is light. So if you have a special grow light, now will be the time to turn it on, usually during the daytime. However, if you do not have access to one of these lights, you’ll need to make sure that it is as close to a window or a natural light source as humanly possible.
In terms of light to darkness ratio, your seedlings will need around 12-15 hours of light with 9-12 hours of darkness during the night. If your plant is not getting this amount of light, then you might expect to see pale or yellowing leaves during the early stages of its growth.
If you are using a grow light, you might already have noticed that it is very strong. You’ll want to keep it around 12-15 inches away from your plant, as this will result in curling leaves and potentially burning your plant.
You’ll also want to make sure that your seedlings are well fertilized, but you don’t want to risk bombarding your new plants with too many chemicals. So when it comes to fertilizing your plant, we would recommend that you put half-strength fertilizer over your plants to make sure that they are fed properly.
If you put too much fertilizer on your young plants, then this might result in fertilizer burn, which often happens when plants are subjected to too many of these chemicals. When your plants are young, they won’t be taking in that many nutrients, so you won’t want to overload them too much.
Another thing that you want to avoid is your plants drying out completely. You’ll want to make sure that the first two inches of soil are completely wet to know that your plants are getting enough. If you are planning on watering your plants from the bottom, then you can do so by laying the perforated bottom of your seed tray in a few inches of water and allowing the soil to naturally absorb it all.
Whether you are watering from the top or the bottom, you’ll want to avoid overwatering. One easy method of doing this if you are watering from the bottom is by taking the excess water from the tray and emptying it out.
Now that we’ve discussed the early days of caring for your sapling, we’re going to move onto the next big step - that is, moving them from one container to another.
Moving Your Saplings
When your saplings grow to around 3 or 4 inches tall, then it is time to allow them to move house. This is because their roots are growing so large that they’ll need more room to absorb more nutrients from a large volume of soil. Usually, this will be around the 2-3 weeks mark.
Eventually, you’ll want your plants to be placed into larger pots. You can either graduate to a size larger or even a few sizes larger, depending on how big you want your plants to grow. We would recommend that you transition your plants in stages, as this will make sure that they grow nice and strong.
If you feel that your bell peppers are ready to transfer, then follow these next few steps:
- Prepare the soil in your new pot - In much the same way as you did with your seedling tray, you should make sure that the soil is completely moist before transferring your seedlings.
- Mix your soil - we would add bone meal and Epsom at this point, as your new seedlings will want more nutrients to help them grow larger.
- Make a crater for your new plant - you’ll want to use a spoon or your own hands to make a hole big enough to accommodate your seedling’s root ball. You’ll want to keep your roots intact as much as possible during the transfer.
- Remove your seedling from the old receptacle - make sure that your seedling, including the soil and the roots, are removed. Then transfer it to the crater in the new soil spot.
- Once the plant is snugly in the new hole, pack it down with your finger so that it’s secure - once your plant is in its new home, make sure to water thoroughly to ensure that your plant does not dry out and die.
- Keep the plants under your grow light or make sure that it is placed in indirect sunlight.
When your plants have been re-potted, you might notice that it has a period of slowed growth. This is because the roots are slightly stunned by being moved from one pot to another. However, this will only last for a short spell, and you should notice your plant beginning to thrive once again.
At this point, when it comes to fertilizing, then you’ll want to switch to a full-strength option. Your growing plant will be a lot hungrier now, so make sure that you ply it with plenty of fertilizer to make sure that its growth is strong.
That’s it. Simple eh? But what happens if you want to transfer your seedlings from an indoor plant to an outdoor one? Well, keep reading and we’ll give you all the info you need to re-pot your green friend.
Transferring Your Bell Peppers To The Great Outdoors
When it comes to resettling your plant in the great outdoors, you’ll want to avoid scalding the roots and causing your plant a significant amount of damage. The light of the sun is a lot more intense than the light that your artificial grow lamp will give off. You’ll need to give your plant time to adjust to the increased sun exposure.
This process is called hardening the plant. You’ll need to follow this pattern for strengthening your plant against the glare of the sun:
- 1st week - 20 minutes of direct sunlight or 1 hour in the shade
- 2nd week - 1 hour of sunlight or 2-3 hours of shade
- 3rd week - 1.5 to 2 hours of sunlight or a full day in the shade
- 4th week - full transition to the outdoors
If you want to transition a plant to an outdoor section of your home that only experiences morning light, then you can probably get your plant to acclimatize to the outdoors in a much shorter time frame. You can possibly halve the time in the weeks listed above.
You’ll need to keep an eye out for plants that are experiencing yellowing or wilting when exposed to direct sunlight. If your new plant has started to exhibit any of these signs, then you should remove it from the sunlight immediately.
For a bell pepper, the ideal daytime temperature will be around 75 degrees Fahrenheit. For the nighttime, you shouldn’t want to go over 50 degrees Fahrenheit. If you find the outside temperature dipping below this at night, we would recommend that you bring your plant indoors.
If you are unable to move your plants from their outdoor area, then you can always cover them with a blanket to keep them warm - although you might get some funny looks from the neighbors.
How To Tend To Your Bell Pepper Seeds
When your bell peppers have made the transition to the outdoors, then you’ll still have to take care of them regularly. Here are a few tips that we’ve learned to keep your plant fit and healthy during this stage when it will be growing a lot:
Plucking Early Flower Buds
By trimming any flowers that crop up during the early phase, you’ll be directing a lot of the flower’s growth energy into the foliage and the roots rather than the flower buds, which will accelerate the overall growth of the plant itself.
This is when you help keep your stalk straight by taping it to a wooden stake that you can drive into the soil next to the plant. Tie your plant loosely to the stake with some velcro or other substance that won’t cut into the stalk of the plant itself.
Make sure that the stake itself is very sturdy as if it collapses then this can damage your plant even further. If you are staking outdoors, then you’ll want to be sure that your stake is very deeply rooted in the ground to avoid it blowing down in extreme weather conditions.
You’ll want to be sure that your outdoor bell peppers are gathering up plenty of sunlight. When it is at full growth, you’ll want your plant to get at least 12 hours of sunlight every day.
However, even when exposed to full sunlight, your bell pepper can experience sunspots. To avoid this, you should bring your plant into the shade for a few hours when the sun is at its zenith, usually at around 3-4pm.
Issues and Concerns
There are a few issues that bell pepper plant owners commonly experience, here are just a few of them, along with some simple solutions:
- Curling leaves - this is a very natural phenomenon and could be a result of a few different things. Don’t change anything about your plant care, just keep an eye on it.
- Yellowing leaves - there could be many reasons for this, one of the main ones being nutrient deficiencies. Try increasing the amount of fertilizer your plant gets.
- Pests - mites and other bugs will be drawn to your plants. If you are concerned about these, then you can buy numerous pesticides that will help deal with the issue.
- No peppers - if you find that your bell pepper plant is not producing flowers or a high yield, this could be because of high temperatures or overwatering.
- Leaves dropping - it is perfectly natural for your plant to shed leaves every now and again, however, if this is happening a lot, then it could be a sign of something wrong with the nutrient intake or the watering levels.