How to grow your own peppers
While a lot of our Gardening Angels and many of our customers love growing chillies, for a lot of us, the spice can be too much. We also love growing sweet peppers (also known as bell peppers). They're flavourful and can be used in all sorts of delicious recipes - whether raw in salads or cooked into stir-fries, pasta and more. Wondering how to grow peppers?
Peppers will grow well in your greenhouse or outside as long as they're in a warm sunny spot - we love growing them in our Quadgrow planter for healthy plants and heavenly harvests!
The Gardening Angel guide
When to sow pepper seeds in the UK
In the UK, you can sow pepper seeds from mid-February to early April indoors - you can sow peppers seeds in seed pots or seed trays.
If you don't want to grow peppers from seeds, young plug plants are available from garden centres in spring as an alternative.
How to germinate bell pepper seeds indoors
Ideally, you will need to keep your seed pots or trays in a temperature of around 18-21°C. The most cost effective way of doing this is to use a heated propagator (we love our Vitopod because it grows with your plants - find out more here). If you don't have a heated propagator, place your seeds trays or pots on a warm windowsill, with a plastic cover or bag over to keep in the warmth and moisture.
How long does it take for pepper seeds to germinate?
A lot of sweet pepper varieties will germinate and show their initial leaves about two weeks after planting the seeds, however this can vary between species. A lot of seed packets will give you an idea of how long it will take to germinate.
When to pot on pepper seedlings
When two 'true leaves' have formed, prick out your pepper seedlings into 7.5-9cm (3-3.5in) pots. Once the roots fill the pot, further transfer plants into your Quadgrow pots. This will typically be in late April (if growing peppers in a heated greenhouse), mid-May (if you are growing peppers in an unheated greenhouse) or late May if you are growing peppers outside. Be sure to plant out into some good quality compost.
How to make a pepper plant bushy
Wondering how to make your plant produce more peppers? Pinching out your pepper plants is a great way of encouraging bushier growth for more fruit. Pinch out the growing tips of peppers when they are about 20cm (8in) tall - the sideshoots (the shoots forming between the main stem and leaves) can be pinched back if you want lots of smaller fruit.
Wondering how to pinch out your pepper plant? Simply use your thumb and the fingernail on your forefinger to pinch the small stem that connects the flower or fruit to a larger stem, as close to a larger stem as possible.
You can see how to do this in a video below - Gardening Angel Paul is actually pinching a tomato plant here however the method is the same.
You may need to stake and tie plants in if they produce lots of heavy fruit.
How much water do peppers need and how often
should I water my pepper plants?
Like their spicy cousins, sweet peppers can be fussy about watering. Pepper plants actually need a lot less water than people think - overwatering your pepper plants is one of the worst things you can do, whether the pepper plant is growing in a pot, raised bed or directly in the ground. When you overwater your pepper plants, it can resulted in stunted growth, pests and diseases, not to mention washing away valuable nutrients. Basically, we don't want poorly peppers! If you are growing your peppers in a Quadgrow, you eliminate the risk of overwatering, meaning much healthier plants!
How does the Quadgrow avoid overwatering pepper plants?
The Quadgrow self-watering planter works by using a clever series of FeederMats to deliver water and nutrients to the pepper plants roots as and when it needs it. The FeederMats hang down into a SmartReservoir, which you keep topped up with water and nutrients.
What are the best nutrients for pepper plants?
Much like humans, plants can't live on water alone! Along with healthy watering, pepper plants need nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, along with some trace minerals such as magnesium, to ensure healthy growth and lots of peppers!
We love our award-winning Nutrigrow - it's a two-part plant feed which you'll get free with your Quadgrow - the feed will last you the whole season! The special blend of potassium, nitrogen, phosphorous, calcium and magnesium plus micro-nutrients and trace elements ensures your pepper plants receive everything they need for optimal health. Your plants will develop a larger root system, stronger stems, more fruiting sites and a bigger crop of peppers!
How to get rid of pests on pepper plants
No matter how well we look after our plants, sometimes pests can come along to try and ruin the day! Pepper plants come with some unwanted fans, namely aphids and mites. A sign that you have an aphid infestation is the presence of colonies of greenfly on the tips of plants or on leaves. They suck sap from the plant and excrete sticky honeydew, encouraging the growth of black sooty moulds. Get rid of aphids by using your finger and thumb to squash the colonies or introduce biological control in your greenhouse or garden - this means using natural predators who will feast on the aphids. Ladybirds and lacewings are particularly useful - if you find ladybirds in your house through winter, gently brush them into a tub and move them to your greenhouse!
If the leaves of your pepper plants become mottled, pale and covered in webbing and the leaves are dropping prematurely, you may have mites. These pests thrive in hot, dry conditions, so mist plants regularly to get rid of them!
You should be checking your pepper plants regularly throughout the growing season (trust is, you'll be so excited by the Quadgrow results you'll want to admire them anyway) - simply remove and dispose of any leaves that show symptoms of disease or are infested by pests.
How to avoid blossom end rot on peppers
Blossom end rot is the bane of many gardeners lives, and one of the reasons why the Quadgrow is the answer to gardeners prayers! What is blossom end rot? Well, it's when vegetables get a dark, watery patch on the end, ruining the fruit. Blossom end rot is caused by calcium deficiencies and erratic watering, something that the Quadgrow eliminates the risk of! With the FeederMat system, water is only taken to the plant's roots as and when the plant needs it, meaning there is no over or underwatering as long as you don't let the reservoir run dry! The SmartReservoir keeps plants watered for up to two weeks, and can be connected to a watering butt if you are going away for longer than that or if the weather gets particularly hot.
When do I pick my peppers?
Different varieties of peppers will be ready to pick at different stages of maturation - generally once the fruit is green, swollen and glossy it is ripe to be picked. Alternatively,
keep the fruit on the plant to turn red - this enhances the flavour, however can reduce the yield.