Pepper Care


Albino Bullnose

This is an Albino Bullnose planted in a large pot with parsley and white petunias and blue lobelia. These peppers start out white and ripen to a gorgeous red. Peppers are very pretty in the landscape or in a container on a sunny patio.


Peppers are harder to grow in our area, at least that is the experience I have had. I’ve done some experimenting and planted one outside in a raised bed and one in the greenhouse and the difference was amazing. The ones inside were enormous plants with lots and lots of peppers per plant. They seem to need a lot more heat than we normally get and we provide that to our peppers by growing them in beds inside our greenhouse where it regularly gets to be 90 degrees. 


Since we don’t want to 

cook them, we leave both ends of the greenhouse open. For those of you who don’t have a greenhouse, you can construct a hoop house over the plants with both ends open, making sure it is high enough to accommodate the plants as they grow.


Most sweet peppers mature in 60-90 days; hot peppers can take up to 150 days. Keep in mind, however, that the number of days to maturity stated on the seed packet refers to the days after transplanting until the plant produces a full-sized fruit. If you start from seed, you must add 8-10 weeks for the time between sowing and transplanting which means starting pepper plants indoors in January or February, unless of course, you purchase plants from me!

Containers
I encourage my customers to plant in very large pots for more heat to the roots. For pots, fertilize on  a regular basis, since frequent watering leads to more leaching of nutrients from the soil.


Plant the peppers.
Peppers like warmth, so wait to plant until nighttime temperatures have consistently reached 60°F and all danger of frost has passed. If possible, set out your peppers on a cloudy day to help reduce stress on the plants. Plant peppers in a bed that receives full sun. Try laying black plastic on the bed underneath the plants to help them accumulate the warmth that they seem to love. Provide a sandy loam soil that drains well and contains plenty of organic matter such as compost and rotted manures. 


Spacing
Depending on the size of the pepper varieties planted, spacing should be 12-18 inches apart. Peppers can double as ornamentals, so tuck some into flowerbeds and borders. The Chinese 5 Color and the Sweet Pickle are great for that with their multi colored peppers.


Water and Mulching your peppers. 
Throughout the growing season, make sure your pepper plants receive at least an inch of water a week.Mulch to keep weeds down and help the soil retain the moisture


Fertilizing
Fish fertilizer can be fed frequently, and never burns. and you can feed plants every 3 weeks during the growing season until they start to flower. One cup fish fertilizer to one gallon of water.

Habaneros, especially, need calcium many times during the growing season, in the form of bonemeal, a few tablespoons per plant. Scatter the it around each plant, and water in. 

You can tell when you need calcium if the plants stop growing and if young leaves start to pucker---they are running out of calcium to build new leaves. 

As with tomatoes, don’t overfertilize. Excess nitrogen gives you big, bushy plants at the expense of fruit.


Harvesting
You can pick peppers at any size and color stage. Most peppers start out green and then turn some shade of red, yellow, and orange. Albino Bullnose, Giant Szegedi, and White Lakes start out a lovely creamy white color, Sweet Banana and Hungarian Yellow Wax are yellow and Cubanelle  is a light, light green. If you want sweeter peppers, wait for them to mature. Most folks don’t realize that green peppers aren’t ripe yet even though still tasty.


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