Pepper

Learn how to get the most out of your allotment by reading information on each plant and the tools and equipment you might need.

Growing Bell or Sweet Peppers

Planting Months

November - April

Harvest Months

June - October
Pepper plants with small pepper fruits at an early stage

Peppers are usually divided into 2 groups – sweet or bell peppers and chillies.

There are many varieties of pepper plants, and most varieties can be treated as perennials and grow from season to season, although they need to be brought into the warmth and stored carefully over winter. Watering will usually be less frequent, and some peppers will benefit from pruning.

Peppers can change from green to red as the fruit ripen although they are edible when fully ripe at the green stage. Some varieties are chocolate brown too. There are large varieties and some small ones – generally you will get more fruit from the small varieties which may offset the difference.

Peppers can be relatively easy to grow given the right conditions. You can grow them from seed or from a young plant bought from the local garden centre or occasionally a supermarket. They are best grown in warm conditions which can be a sunny windowsill, greenhouse or polytunnel, although they can also be grown outside in a sunny and protected spot, maybe by a wall.

When planning to grow peppers it is essential to look at how long it takes to grow a particular variety. They have a long growing season (60-120 days, sometimes 150 days), especially if you are starting from seeds. It is usually a good idea to plant your seeds in January to have a successful harvest. If you are buying young plants, you can start later, and these will be available at garden centres at around the right time. You will need to read the information on the seed packet you give yourself the best chance of success.

Planting guide

Growing Tips

Growing from seed – Pepper seeds need a temperature of 21-32oC / 70-90oF so a heated propagator is best. If you don’t have a propagator, you can plant your seeds in a seed tray, cover it over with polythene and place it in a sunny spot on a windowsill. It is best to start your seeds in January to February, or even March, depending on the variety. To start your seeds, fill your seed tray with seeding compost and sow your seeds on top. Cover the seeds with a sprinkling of compost or vermiculite and water. Keep the compost moist and avoid overwatering at this stage. An alternative is to use coir pellets – these come as round, dry disks and will need to be soaked before planting the seeds. The pellets will expand in the water, and you can plant the seeds into the top of the module by creating a small hole, planting the seed and covering it over. These can be good to use as it is easier to transplant the seedlings to pots when they have grown enough, just remember to keep them moist.

Transplant the seedlings onto 7-9cm pots when the first true leaves have formed. The first 2 leaves are known as Cotyledons or seed leaves and help the seedling to grow. As the plant develops you can transplant them into larger pots as they grow bigger, usually when they have half a dozen pairs of leaves. Once the chance of frost has gone usually around mid-late May you will be able to transplant the plants into 25cm pots / 2 litres, in grow bags or in the ground. Do not rush this stage as the plant have a long fruiting season so you will not miss out. Checking the chances of frost in your area before you do this will help you to decide the best time.

When the plants which are 20-25cms / 8-10ins tall start to stake them up with a thin bamboo stick or cane. You may want to pinch out the top leaves once they have established themselves in their final home. This can encourage more bushy plants and more fruit production, especially the smaller varieties. There are some good videos on the Web on how to pinch out your peppers if you want to give it a go. It can also be a good idea to remove some of the first flowers as this can encourage greater growth and a better yield in the long run.

Water them regularly throughout the growing season although avoid overwatering, but do not let the plants dry out. You will also need to feed them every 2 weeks or so with a potash fertiliser such as tomato feed. Start feeding the plants once the first flowers have formed. In hot and dry weather keep misting your plants as well to keep the humidity around the plant. If you are growing your plants indoors where there are few insects, you may also need to help the flowers to pollinate by using the tip of a small brush or giving the plant a firm shake.

The fruit will be ready from about July onwards, depending on when you started, the more you pick the more fruit will grow. Some plants can have many weeks of fruiting until the weather starts to get colder, usually around October. Peppers fruit can change their colour as they ripen, from either green or purple to red or chocolate brown.

Pepper problems.

Blossom-end rot, the fruit will start to go brown at the end. This is caused by poor watering regime. Just ensure that the soil does not dry out or overwater by regular checking. Red Spider Mite – these can be avoided by misting your plants regularly. Aphids of Whitefly – these can be treated biologically or physically.

Growing Bell or Sweet Peppers

Pepper plants with small pepper fruits at an early stage

Planting Months

November - April

Harvest Months

June - October

Peppers are usually divided into 2 groups – sweet or bell peppers and chillies.

There are many varieties of pepper plants, and most varieties can be treated as perennials and grow from season to season, although they need to be brought into the warmth and stored carefully over winter. Watering will usually be less frequent, and some peppers will benefit from pruning.

Peppers can change from green to red as the fruit ripen although they are edible when fully ripe at the green stage. Some varieties are chocolate brown too. There are large varieties and some small ones – generally you will get more fruit from the small varieties which may offset the difference.

Peppers can be relatively easy to grow given the right conditions. You can grow them from seed or from a young plant bought from the local garden centre or occasionally a supermarket. They are best grown in warm conditions which can be a sunny windowsill, greenhouse or polytunnel, although they can also be grown outside in a sunny and protected spot, maybe by a wall.

When planning to grow peppers it is essential to look at how long it takes to grow a particular variety. They have a long growing season (60-120 days, sometimes 150 days), especially if you are starting from seeds. It is usually a good idea to plant your seeds in January to have a successful harvest. If you are buying young plants, you can start later, and these will be available at garden centres at around the right time. You will need to read the information on the seed packet you give yourself the best chance of success.

Growing Tips

Growing from seed – Pepper seeds need a temperature of 21-32oC / 70-90oF so a heated propagator is best. If you don’t have a propagator, you can plant your seeds in a seed tray, cover it over with polythene and place it in a sunny spot on a windowsill. It is best to start your seeds in January to February, or even March, depending on the variety. To start your seeds, fill your seed tray with seeding compost and sow your seeds on top. Cover the seeds with a sprinkling of compost or vermiculite and water. Keep the compost moist and avoid overwatering at this stage. An alternative is to use coir pellets – these come as round, dry disks and will need to be soaked before planting the seeds. The pellets will expand in the water, and you can plant the seeds into the top of the module by creating a small hole, planting the seed and covering it over. These can be good to use as it is easier to transplant the seedlings to pots when they have grown enough, just remember to keep them moist.

Transplant the seedlings onto 7-9cm pots when the first true leaves have formed. The first 2 leaves are known as Cotyledons or seed leaves and help the seedling to grow. As the plant develops you can transplant them into larger pots as they grow bigger, usually when they have half a dozen pairs of leaves. Once the chance of frost has gone usually around mid-late May you will be able to transplant the plants into 25cm pots / 2 litres, in grow bags or in the ground. Do not rush this stage as the plant have a long fruiting season so you will not miss out. Checking the chances of frost in your area before you do this will help you to decide the best time.

When the plants which are 20-25cms / 8-10ins tall start to stake them up with a thin bamboo stick or cane. You may want to pinch out the top leaves once they have established themselves in their final home. This can encourage more bushy plants and more fruit production, especially the smaller varieties. There are some good videos on the Web on how to pinch out your peppers if you want to give it a go. It can also be a good idea to remove some of the first flowers as this can encourage greater growth and a better yield in the long run.

Water them regularly throughout the growing season although avoid overwatering, but do not let the plants dry out. You will also need to feed them every 2 weeks or so with a potash fertiliser such as tomato feed. Start feeding the plants once the first flowers have formed. In hot and dry weather keep misting your plants as well to keep the humidity around the plant. If you are growing your plants indoors where there are few insects, you may also need to help the flowers to pollinate by using the tip of a small brush or giving the plant a firm shake.

The fruit will be ready from about July onwards, depending on when you started, the more you pick the more fruit will grow. Some plants can have many weeks of fruiting until the weather starts to get colder, usually around October. Peppers fruit can change their colour as they ripen, from either green or purple to red or chocolate brown.

Pepper problems.

Blossom-end rot, the fruit will start to go brown at the end. This is caused by poor watering regime. Just ensure that the soil does not dry out or overwater by regular checking. Red Spider Mite – these can be avoided by misting your plants regularly. Aphids of Whitefly – these can be treated biologically or physically.

Design by Joe Drozd