Growing Bell Peppers in Containers
Chili plants are great additions to any style garden, but the scorching heat of habanero or cayenne peppers just isn't for everyone. For those gardeners out there who can't stand the heat, there's fortunately an easy solution. Growing bell peppers! Unlike their spicy counterparts, bell peppers are mild and sweet, making them the perfect ingredient for countless recipes. So, how do you get some bell peppers of your own? Well, you could drive to the supermarket and pick up some commercially produced ones, or you can set up shop with a few containers, a sunny area, and a couple of seeds to start your very own bell pepper container garden. Obviously, we'll be discussing the latter of the two. Stay put to learn how to grow bell peppers in containers.
Pictured above is a young bell pepper seedling. It'll be growing orange bell peppers later in life.
Growing Bell Peppers - Necessities
- Containers - The smallest container that should be used to house a maturing bell pepper plant is two gallons. Since there's one plant per container, make sure to purchase the correct amount of containers. Also, if you plan to grow bell peppers from seed, plan on having a variety of smaller containers for gradual transplanting.
- Sunlight - Whether it be natural sunlight or artificial grow lights, bell peppers plants require a lot of it. Be prepared to provide bell pepper seedlings and young plants with at least 14-16 hours of direct light daily. Maturing and fruiting bell pepper plants will do best with 8-12 hours of direct sunlight daily.
- Potting Soil - A premium and well balanced potting soil is an absolute necessity if you want your pepper plants to produce maximum yields. The soil should preferably be organic, contain a great deal of composted material for initial nutrition, and be amended with perlite for excellent drainage.
- Nutrients - As your bell pepper plants age and use up available nutrients in the soil, you'll have to supply them with additional nutrients to help push them to produce all they can! An organic all purpose fertilizer or liquid nutrient with equal NPK values should be used. A little goes a long ways, so you won't need much.
Bell Peppers from Seed -
Store bought transplants are one way of growing out a healthy crop of bell peppers, but if you're up for a challenge, growing bell peppers from seed can be a great way to start your container garden. I've shortened the following instructions just a bit, so if you need an in depth clarification on how to germinate or transplant your bell pepper seedlings, have a look at my guide on growing Jalapeno peppers. The process for growing the two from seed is very similar indeed.
Inexpensive seedling trays work wonders for germinating bell peppers. The trays are usually sold with a clear plastic top piece. The top acts as a humidity dome and works to create a micro climate perfect for germinating seeds.
- For large healthy plants during the season, start germinating your bell pepper seeds 8-10 weeks before the average last frost in your area. You'll most likely need to do so indoors, as the bell pepper plants will need temperatures over 70° to sprout and survive.
- Using small seedling trays or recycled yogurt cups, plant seeds 1/4 inch deep in the soil and water them in well. Keep the trays moist and in a warm area with filtered light until the seeds germinate. Germination typically occurs within 7-14 days, depending on soil temperature.
- Once the bell pepper seeds begin to sprout, immediately situate them in a warm area with ample sunlight or artificial grow lighting. The seedlings and young pepper plants will need 14-16 hours of strong light, and must not be exposed to temperatures below 65°F. South facing windowsills are a good option.
- Continuously keep the soil moist but not over watered.
- In their two month stay indoors, the young bell pepper plants will need to be transplanted into gradually larger containers. Transplanting will help ensure that the roots do not become too cramped and that growth is not stunted.
Container Bell Peppers -
Regardless of whether you grew out your own bell pepper plants from seed or went and purchased some transplants, the real fun starts once the last frost has passed. Here's how to tend for your growing bell peppers:
Growing Bell Pepper. Photo By : Ken Cook
- If you haven't done so already, gently transplant your bell pepper plants into their final two gallon container. Since most bell pepper plants are started indoors, hardening off is a process that should not be skipped.
- Locate a sunny location, keeping in mind that your growing bell pepper plants will need a minimum of eight hours of direct sunlight daily.
- Water your pepper plants as needed. Bell pepper plants will do their absolute best when the soil is kept consistently moist. Soil that is allowed to become dry may inhibit fruit production and stunt growth. It may be necessary to water daily in hot arid climates.
- Keeping to a strict watering regimen, your bell pepper plant should begin to bloom and set its first fruits within a couple of weeks. When you can see the initial peppers just starting to form, apply your first application of nutrients/fertilizer. Follow the provided instructions.
- If your plants look like they need additional fertilization, apply nutrients once every two weeks. Discontinue use of nutrients two weeks before your expected harvest.
Ripe Yellow Bell Pepper. Photo By : Denim Dave
Bell peppers are slow growers throughout the summer season, but the wait is definitely worthwhile. When harvesting your bell pepper plants, you'll want to look for peppers that have reached a size of 3-4 inches in length. At this size, they may either be picked green or allowed to ripen into yellow, orange or red. If you plan to harvest the peppers during their immature green stage, be sure to cut them from the plant. Bell peppers that have been allowed to ripen to color are much easier to hand pick from the plant.
Alright, and that just about does it for the basics of how to grow bell peppers. If you find yourself with pests or less than perfect looking pepper plants, please feel free to leave me a comment. I'll help out the best I can. Thanks for reading my article on growing bell peppers in containers. Feel free to have a look through some of my other gardening guides below:
- Grow Broccoli in Containers
- Radishes in Containers
- Growing Carrots From Seed
- How to Grow Lettuce Indoors
If that's just not enough for you, try having a glance through my complete list of Vegetable Gardening Guides, or check out the progress of my own Container Garden Below: