Bell peppers, often known as Capsicum, are a member of the Nightshade or Solanaceae family and thrive in a warm tropical environment. Growing bell peppers is highly favored by gardeners and is known to be one of the most rewarding vegetable crops to grow.
The produce and yield offer a wide variety of uses and, if grown correctly, can be one of the easiest plants to maintain.
The Bell Pepper plant goes through seven stages during its life: Germination, Vegetive Development, Flowering, Pollination, Fruiting, and Ripening.
Understanding the stages during the lifespan of the Bell Pepper plant will give you a head start on what to expect this Bell Pepper growing season.
Let’s look at Bell Pepper’s lifecycle in closer detail.
Bell Pepper Growth Stages
The plant will undergo many transformations during the seven stages of a Bell Pepper’s life.
Whether a beginner or an experienced gardener, it is crucial to understand and identify these transformations so you can give your Bell Pepper plant precisely what it needs to flourish.
These are the stages in more detail.
The initial stage of growing Bell Peppers starts with seed germination. As the Bell pepper originates from the tropics, they are a lover of warm temperatures.
The bell pepper plant seed will germinate in temperatures between 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (23-25 C).
The Germination process of the Bell pepper seeds is lengthy; great patience is required as they can take up to four weeks to sprout.
To germinate Bell pepper seeds, you can plant them in a pot of moist premium potting soil ¼ inch deep. Lightly cover the top of the seeds and the pot with clear plastic.
Keep the soil moist during germination by using a spray bottle and situate the seeds in a warm sunny area in your home.
After the third set of leaves has emerged and the plant’s height has increased, they are ready for life outdoors. Bell pepper seedlings require hardening off in the sun before planting, and you can do this by exposing them to sunlight for a few hours each day.
After a week, the seedlings will be less stressed when you plant them in their new homes.
2. Vegetative Development
After the germination stage, the Bell Pepper plant will begin Vegetive development. This stage will occur after six weeks of germination when the root system has developed and new leaves start to grow.
During this time, it’s best to keep the bell pepper seedlings in a temperature between 69°F and 73°F (21 and 23 degrees C) for optimum leaf growth.
When the seedling reaches eight weeks old, it will display more leaves and require extra sunlight for growth. If you prepare Bell Pepper plants for the spring season, ensure that you put your seedlings outside when the temperatures are suitable.
Two weeks after your last frost date is ideal and avoids any risk of stress caused to the new plants.
During the Vegetative development stage, you can prepare the soil for planting your seedlings outside. Bell peppers enjoy soil pH between 6 and 6.5 and require adequate space between each plant; aim for 20 inches to allow for enough room to grow.
Your bell peppers now have enough root system and leaf growth; you are ready to plant them outside.
This is one of the first exciting stages of the Bell Peppers life cycle; it is a sign that the plants are happy and are willing to reproduce in the conditions you have provided for them.
After around two months of exposure to direct sunlight, yellow or white blooms will appear on the Bell Pepper plants. Usually, they can be seen in clusters of two or three at a time.
During this time, the plant will continue to grow and produce more buds, later opening as bell-shaped flowers.
Early flowering of Bell peppers can happen when the concentration of nitrogen available is low, the pot size needs to be bigger, or the temperatures are uneven.
While your Bell peppers are in the flowering stage of their life cycle, they will experience the pollination period. This is a vital time of their life as it is what will cause your Bell peppers to set fruit.
Bell peppers are self-pollinating, so they don’t need other plants or flowers to complete this stage. Pollination happens when the flowers drop pollen straight from their anthers to the stigma.
Occasionally pollination can happen when insects are present to help carry the pollen from one area of the flower to another.
To ensure that your Bell peppers are pollinated, you can get involved in this process by hand pollinating. Hand pollinating can help speed up the process and ensure that each flower has spread its pollen.
To pollinate your Bell Peppers by hand, take a small paintbrush or cotton bud and gently rub the pollen from flower to flower. This is best done in the afternoon between midday and 3 pm when the pollen is at its peak.
The fruiting stage of Bell Peppers will happen after 60-90 days after transplanting. Once the flowers have been pollinated, the flower’s ovary will be fertilized, causing the fruit to set.
As the Ovary of the flower develops, it produces a fleshy pericarp that encloses locular chambers. The pericarp will become thicker over time and form into the bell pepper.
The locular pockets are the areas where the seeds are produced in the bell pepper.
During fruiting, your Bell Peppers will need less nitrogen and plenty of Phosphorus and Potassium for the best yields. You can apply a fertilizer that is low in nitrogen, so it doesn’t affect the fruiting rate.
If your bell pepper is not producing fruit after the pollination stage, this can be a result of temperature fluctuations.
Due to their tropical origin, setting fruit is unlikely to happen if daytime temperatures are above 85°F (29°C) or night temperatures below 60°F (15°C).
During their fruiting, the Bell peppers will require a suitable amount of water for the fruit to form. Deep watering one or two inches per week is recommended, and they should be left to dry out during these days.
Your fruits have set the next stage of your bell pepper life; you will witness the ripening stage.
This can be a very tempting time to start harvesting your fruit, but if you wait patiently, you will be rewarded with tastier produce than you started with.
After the fruit has fully matured, you can see that your bell peppers are changing color. Starting from Green, they will become lighter and yellow as the chlorophyll breaks down under the sun.
After the Bell peppers have turned yellow, they become sweeter and softer. Some consider red, yellow, or orange bell Peppers to contain higher beta-carotene and vitamin C, making them more nutritious than when they are green.
The transition of colors you see will vary depending on the temperature and the time it takes for the Bell Peppers to ripen; it can be 30 days or more in some cases.
The Bell peppers can ripen when off the plant, but it is a slower process than leaving them to complete this stage naturally.
Deciding when to harvest your Bell Peppers is entirely up to you and your needs. When you look at the price of green peppers in the shop, they are less expensive because of the extra time involved in ripening.
Depending on your need and use, you will know when to harvest.
When Is Bell Pepper Growing Season?
Bell pepper season is from July to September. During these months, the sun is at its strongest, and the Bell peppers are provided with the high temperatures they need to thrive.
The optimum temperatures during this time should be between 70 degrees and 85 degrees F (21°C – 29°C).
How Long Do Bell Peppers Take To Grow From Seed?
Bell peppers have a long season of growth and can take from 60 to 90 days. You can germinate the seeds at home yourself or get ahead of time by buying nursery-grown seedlings.
After watching your bell pepper grow to its full height of 3- 3 ½ feet, you can have the pleasure of watching your plants showcase a variety of colorful fruits ranging from shades of Green to yellows, Oranges, and Reds.
Take a look at this video for a step-by-step guide on getting started:
How Long After Flowers Do Bell Peppers Appear?
After the Bell pepper plant has formed a flower bud and the flowers have been pollinated, you can expect to see the peppers fully grown two months later.
You can speed up the pollination process with hand pollinating to ensure all the flowers can produce fruit.
How To Grow Bigger Bell Peppers
You can follow a few extra steps to make sure you will grow bigger Bell Peppers this season:
- Use the most suitable soil: well-draining, rich soil that is slightly sandy or loamy and has a pH of 6.0 and 6.8.
- Grow in the correct size pot. The Bell Pepper plant’s height can reach up to 3 ½ feet, and have a root system to match that height. Be sure to give each plant the right amount of space it needs to grow, or you may face some problems later.
- Use a fertilizer with a ratio of 5-10-10: 5% Nitrogen, 10% phosphorus, and 10% Potassium. The higher Phosphorus and Potassium levels assist in the flowering stage.
- Prune your Bell Pepper Plants. Early season pruning: to improve branching, increase root growth, and provide circulation. Mid-season pruning: Protects from pests, limits diseases, and stops the weight of the plant from being too heavy. Late Season Pruning: to speed up the ripening process and produce different colors before the frost arrives.
Common Problems With Bell Peppers
Although Bell peppers are considered an easy plant to grow, you can encounter your fair share of problems with them too. Identifying your plant’s issues is the first step to helping it stay healthy.
Here are some of the problems you may see when growing Bell Peppers and some of how you can treat them:
Green, limp leaves in the midday is a sign of underwatering, and you should give your pepper plant an extra drink to help it perk up.
Yellow, limp leaves are a sign of overwatering, and it is advised to correct any drainage issues and let the soil dry out completely before watering again.
To test the moisture in the soil, stick your finger into the ground down to the first knuckle; if the soil is dry, it is time to water.
Even though they are sun-loving plants, they can experience too much heat too.
You can see the effects of Sun Scalding if your plants are drooping or the growth is stunted. In this case, the leaves will be white and wilted and can potentially kill a young plant if the temperatures are too hot.
To protect them from sun scalding, use a shade cloth; this will still enable photosynthesis but reduce direct sunlight and prevent damage.
One of the most common pests found on sun-loving plants and can cause significant damage if left untreated. Signs that aphids are attacking your Bell pepper plants are the newly grown leaves will be curling, becoming dry over time, and browning before dying off.
To treat Aphids, you can make a spray containing organic neem oil and insecticidal soap. Another way to treat an infestation of aphids is to introduce Ladybugs to your pepper plants, as they like to eat the aphids.
Carried by Aphids and other insects that suck the sap from plants, the signs of Mosaic virus can be seen when the leaves turn wrinkled, yellowing with mosaic-like patterns, and are firm.
There are no known treatments for this virus, so if you detect the Mosaic virus on your Bell peppers, you will need to remove the plants and keep the pests in your garden at bay.
The fruit from your infected plants is safe to eat, but the seeds will contain the virus, so be sure to discard the seeds from your garden.
Now you can identify some of the problems that occur while growing Bell pepper plants, you can be prepared to treat them and give them an optimum chance at a healthy life in your garden.
Overall, Bell Peppers are not a difficult crop to grow; they have an apparent life cycle where you can observe and notice any problems. Watching the fruits change color to harvesting your own ripened Bell Peppers for a meal is fun and saves money in the long run.
After growing your first crop of Bell peppers and experiencing that first bite of fresh, crisp pepper, you will look forward to pepper season every year.