How to Grow Bell Peppers From Seed
Growing peppers is a fun way to spice up your cooking and make sure you’re meeting all of your nutritional needs.
Like most gardeners, when you’re planning out what vegetables to include in your vegetable garden this year, it’s important that pepper plants are included on the list!
Peppers can be frozen at the season’s end so they last longer for those cold winter dishes later on down the line.
Brush up on some bell pepper info if these nutritious veggies sound like something worth including in next year’s crop plan!
Read this blog post for tips on how to grow bell peppers from seed.
Are Bell peppers easy to grow?
Growing bell peppers is not difficult, but temperature can be a variable. The seeds need the warmth of your house to germinate and grow in these early stages.
Best Bell Pepper Varieties to Grow
I have personally grown hundreds of varieties of bell peppers and these are my personal favorites. I have included varieties for every growing zone and more.
Bell Boy. 70-80 days. This reasonably large thick-walled fruit that ripens from green to red is both sweet, meaty, and makes a great addition to any garden. Fruit is produced on hybrid compact plants that were All-American selections winners and has good disease resistance.
California Wonder. 60-90 days. This pepper is both sweet and tender with no bitterness or heat. Large smooth, thick-walled fruit with 3-4 lobes that ripen from green to red. These upright plants grow between 20 to 30 inches tall and have good overall leaf cover. They are open-pollinated and resistant to the Tobacco mosaic virus.
Golden Bell. 70-80 days. This bell pepper is medium to large-sized with thick-walled fruits that are very sweet and ripen from light green to bright golden yellow. These upright plants grow to 20-24 inches tall with good leaf cover for fruit and are very prolific.
Golden Summer Hybrid. 72-80 days. This bell pepper has a great overall flavor that is very sweet. Large pale green fruit that ripens to golden yellow. These do not ripen to yellow in short-season areas so be prepared for that. These plants are upright and approximately 24 inches tall. They produce a good amount of fruit that can be used in numerous ways. Plants are resistant to the Tobacco mosaic virus resistant.
Jupiter. 60-75 days. Very Sweet. Produces large fruit that ripens from green to red with thick walls. This plant is vigorous and produces high yields. Jupiter is Tobacco mosaic virus resistant and considered to be one of the best open-pollinated bell peppers you can grow in your home garden.
King of the North. 68 days. Early, good-sized peppers of a heavy-yielding habit. This pepper plant variety really thrives in cooler weather and short growing seasons but still produces a good yield.
Ozark Giant. 85 days. The Ozark Giant produces huge bell peppers that are delicious. They ripen from green to red and are very productive plants which make them one of my absolute favorites to grow.
Purple Beauty. 70 days. These blocky purple fruits are a nice addition to your garden. They set a good amount of fruit that grow great in salads as well as stuffed.
Yolo Wonder. 75-85 days. This thick and juicy pepper is an improved version of the traditional California Wonder. These very large blocky fruits are a pretty green that ripens to red and are produced on a bushy plant ranging in size from 24-30 inches tall. It has good leaf coverage to protect the fruit from sunscald. They are very well known for their tolerance to rough weather conditions. They are also resistant to Tobacco mosaic virus and open-pollinated which makes saving seed a possibility.
How long does it take to grow bell peppers from seed?
It generally takes between 70-100 days to grow bell peppers from seed. The first 6-8 weeks is how long it takes for the seed to sprout and grow into a plant that is ready to transplant into your garden. The remainder of this time is for the plant to get established in the garden and to start producing peppers.
How many bell peppers will one plant produce?
The average bell pepper plant will produce between 10-15 bell peppers per season. There are varieties that produce more and there are some that produce less. You can also encourage your plant to produce more peppers by picking the peppers while they are still green rather than letting them ripen on the plant.
What is the fastest way to germinate pepper seeds?
The fastest way to germinate pepper seeds is the paper towel method. Just place the seeds between damp sheets of paper towel and put them in a zippered plastic bag; then put it on top of your refrigerator where it’ll stay warm enough for sprouts to form quickly (don’t forget to label each container!). Open the bag and mist the paper towel every couple of days to keep it moist until the seeds germinate.
When to Plant Bell Pepper Seeds
Plant your bell pepper seeds inside 8-10 weeks before your last spring frost. Bell peppers do need a long season (60 to 90 days), which is why starting them inside is extremely beneficial.
How to Germinate Bell Pepper Seeds
There are a few different ways to germinate bell pepper seeds and I have used them all. I will cover my two favorite ways to germinate bell pepper or any pepper seeds so that you can mimic my success.
Here are a couple of methods:
The Double Cup Method
The double cup method is one of my favorite methods to start pepper seeds because it creates the optimal environment for seeds to germinate. I have used this method for many years and it has produced thousands of healthy pepper plants.
Essentially, you will need the following supplies:
1. Red Solo Cups – or any color cups that you want. These will be the container that holds your seed starting soil and ultimately your pepper plant as it grows.
2. Seed Starting Soil – this soil is sterile which means that it will not have any weed seeds or pest eggs in it. This will need to be premoistened before planting your seeds so that watering the cups will be easier.
3. Pepper Seeds – You will need a few of your desired bell pepper seeds to plant.
4. Zip Lock Bag – The zip lock bag will create a miniature greenhouse over the cup which will help to maintain heat and moisture in the cup to promote better germination.
5. Water – You will need some water to pre-moisten the seed starting soil as well as to water the cups when you are finished. I prefer to put this into a mister bottle.
How to Germinate Bell Pepper Seeds in the Double Cup Method
- Pre-moisten your seed starting soil to the point of it being wet enough to form a clump in your hand but not where water can be squeezed out.
- Take your first solo cup and poke a cup holes in the bottom of it for drainage. This is absolutely a must!
- Fill your cup that has a hole in it up with your soil. Gently press the soil down so that it makes good contact with the bottom of the cup.
- Plant your seeds about 1/4-1/2″ deep into the pre-moistened soil. Gently cover the seeds with seed starting soil.
- Mist or water the cup from the top being extra careful not to splash or move the seeds around.
- Place the cup inside of a cup that does not have holes in the bottom. This cup will act as a reservoir when watering so that you don’t overwater or promote diseases with watering from the top.
- Cover the cups with a sandwich or quart size zip lock bag. This will act as a miniature greenhouse which will keep the humidity, moisture and temperature consistent and will aid in germination.
For more detailed info on this method check out this article: How to Start Pepper Seeds in The Double Cup Method
The Paper Towel Method
The paper towel method is one of my favorite methods to start pepper seeds because it is super easy, takes up very little space, and has a great germination rate. I have used this method for many years and it has produced thousands of healthy pepper plants.
Essentially, you will need the following supplies:
1. Paper Towels – the paper towels will act as the starting medium for the seeds.
2. Zip Lock Bags – The zip lock bag will hold the paper towel with the seeds in it and help hold in the moisture to aid in germination.
3. Pepper Seeds – You will need a few of your desired bell pepper seeds to plant.
4. Water – You will need some water to pre-moisten the paper towels. I prefer to put this into a mister bottle.
How to Germinate Bell Pepper Seeds in the Paper Towel Method
- Take 1-2 paper towels and fold them in half. You should have a half sized paper towel that is a few layers thick. Pre-moistened the paper towels so that they are damp.
- Sprinkle the bell pepper seeds out onto one half of the paper towel. Then fold the other half over the pepper seeds.
- Slide the paper towel with seeds into the zip lock bag.
- Label the bag and place in a warm area for the seeds to sprout.
For more detailed info on this method check out this article: How to Germinate Pepper Seeds: The Paper Towel Method
How deep should I plant bell pepper seeds?
Bell pepper seeds should be planted between 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep in a pre-moistened seed starting mix. If you plant them any deeper than this the seeds will most likely fail to germinate. Cover them gently with soil and mist them with water.
If you plant them deeper you risk the seeds being too deep to germinate.
Should pepper seeds be soaked before planting?
Soaking pepper seeds before planting them is helpful with super hot pepper seeds but is not required. You can have success with just planting pepper seeds directly into moist seed starting mix or potting soil. Place your seed containers on a heat mat and you will have good chances of germination.
You can also have great success with planting fresh pepper seeds directly out of a pepper. The seeds are still full of moisture and they germinate faster than seeds that have been dried out.
What month do you plant peppers?
The best time to plant bell peppers is during the spring months. Plant them only when all danger of cold weather has passed and you’ve waited a long enough amount of time after the last frost that’s on record for your area this year. This way your plants will not be stunted by any cold weather and get off to a good start.
Do you have to harden off pepper plants?
Yes, you do have to harden off pepper plants before planting them out in the spring if you have started them indoors. This hardening off process allows the plants to slowly acclimate themselves to the outside temperatures, wind, and other conditions.
If you do not harden your pepper plants off then they will most likely succumb to the wind or sun as they are not used to those things.
How to harden off Bell Pepper Plants
Once your pepper plants have gotten to be a good size and have started to produce a few flower buds, you want to start the hardening off process. The hardening off process is a process where you take your plants outside for a little bit of time each day to allow your plants to slowly get used to the outside conditions.
How to Plant Bell Pepper Plants
Once your plants are large enough to be planted outside and have been hardened off, you should prepare your planting area. This is a good time to remove any large clumps of soil or rocks out of the soil.
Loosen up the soil where you will be planting your pepper plant, then dig a hole large enough for your pepper plant and its entire root ball.
Loosen your plant from its seedling cup or container by gently squeezing the sides while holding the plant with your hands. Then carefully take the plant and the root ball out of the cup or container.
Place the root ball into the hole that you dug to where the plant is at the same depth as it was before. You can plant peppers a little deeper but not as much as you would typically with tomatoes.
Back fill the soil around the pepper plant and give it a good watering. Put in the plant support such as a tomato cage or some bamboo canes to tie the plant to. Also, make sure to label your plant so that you will know what type of pepper you plant there later in the season.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Here are some of the most asked questions:
Can You Plant the Seeds from A Bell Pepper?
Yes, you can plant the seeds from a bell pepper as long as the pepper is full ripe. If the pepper is ripe, then you have a better chance of getting fresh and viable seeds to plant.
Once your have collected the seeds from a ripe pepper, then all you have to do is to plant them in a pot with moist potting mix. Cover the seeds lightly and wait for them to sprout.
Can You Grow Bell Peppers from Store Bought Bell Peppers?
Yes, absolutely! You can grow bell pepper plants and ultimately bell pepper fruits from store bought bell peppers by collecting the seeds from a ripe bell pepper and then planting them into a pot of potting mix.
Just keep the soil moist and warm until the seeds sprout then put them under some strong lights so that the plants can grow.
Once your seedlings have grown into good size plants you can harden them off and plant them outside in the ground, a raised bed, or in a pot. Keep them watering and feed them once every 7-10 days. Eventually, your plants will start to flower and produce baby bell peppers.
So, what are you waiting for? Give bell peppers a try in your garden this year! Not only are they delicious, but growing them is easy too.
Follow our simple guide and you’ll be on your way to enjoying homegrown bell peppers in no time. What variety of pepper will you grow this year?