If you are planning on growing delicious bell peppers in your garden this year, you might be wondering how big the plants and fruit will get. That way, you can plan the number of plants and the amount of space you will need for your crop of bell peppers.
So, how big do bell peppers get? Bell peppers will grow to a height of 1.5 to 5 feet (0.46 to 1.52 meters), a width of 18 to 24 inches (46 to 61 centimeters) and produce fruit that is 3 to 7 inches (7.6 to 17.8 centimeters) long and 4 inches (10 centimeters) wide.
Of course, the quality of your fruit (if you get any at all!) depends on the care that you give your pepper plants. Let’s take a closer look at bell peppers, including size, growing conditions, and time to maturity.
How Big Do Bell Peppers Get?
Some bell pepper plants, such as Big Bertha from Bonnie Plants, can grow up to 5 feet (1.52 meters) tall. Others, such as the Pinot Noir Sweet Bell Pepper from Bonnie Plants, may only grow to a height of 18 to 24 inches (46 to 61 centimeters).
Most bell pepper plants will have a width of anywhere from 18 to 24 inches (46 to 61 centimeters).
The bell peppers themselves (the fruit) can be as long as 7 inches (see the link to Big Bertha above!), while others will only grow to a length of 4 inches (10.2 centimeters).
Most bell peppers will have a width of about 4 inches (10.2 centimeters).
For more information on the different varieties available, check out peppers on the Bonnie Plants website.
Due to the size of bell peppers and the height of some pepper plant varieties, it makes sense to support your plants with cages.
For more information, check out my article on tomato cages.
How Long Does It Take Peppers To Grow And Ripen?
When grown from transplants, bell peppers take between 65 and 80 days to ripen to the point where they can be picked as green peppers.
Of course, if you start peppers from seed indoors, it will take an additional 6 to 8 weeks (42 to 56 days) to grow plants that are ready for transplant.
All told, it will take anywhere from 107 to 157 from pepper seed to ripe bell pepper, depending on the variety you choose and whether you want green, yellow, or red peppers.
All told, you can expect about 7 to 10 bell peppers per plant. This may not seem like much, but bell peppers are much larger than other types of peppers, so the large size makes up for the small number of fruit.
Bell peppers can be either heirlooms or hybrids, so it may be feasible to save the seeds from heirloom varieties and plant them the following year. Unlike hybrid pepper varieties, heirloom pepper varieties will “grow true to type”, meaning that the seeds will produce plants that are similar to the parent plant.
The seeds from hybrid plants may grow into a plant that does not look anything like the parent plant. The resulting plant may also end up being sterile (unable to produce fruit). If the plant does produce fruit, it may have poor flavor or quality.
What Do Bell Peppers Look Like?
Bell peppers are green when they first ripen. Some people find green bell peppers bitter, especially if harvested a little too early.
If you leave the peppers on the plant a few weeks longer, they will become sweeter and ripen to many different colors, including yellow, orange, or red. There are even some bell pepper varieties that will ripen into purple fruit!
For more information, check out the Purple Sweet Bell Pepper from the Bonnie Plants website.
Are Bell Peppers Hard To Grow?
Peppers are a warm-weather plant, so they can be difficult to grow in colder, northern regions with short growing seasons.
One way to offset this problem is to start seeds indoors and then transplant the established pepper plants outdoors in the spring, after the last danger of frost has passed and soil temperatures are a bit warmer.
Temperature For Bell Peppers
The minimum temperature for pepper seed germination is 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6 degrees Celsius). If the soil is any colder than this, you will see low germination rates – that is, if you can get any seeds at all to germinate!
This is nature’s way of protecting pepper seeds from sprouting at a time when they will be unable to survive. This is why it is suggested that you start pepper seeds indoors to avoid cold soil temperatures in early spring.
The maximum temperature for pepper seed germination is 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius). If the soil is any warmer than this, germination rates will decrease.
Combined with high humidity, high temperatures can encourage the growth of mold, which is another threat to your plants. So, don’t wait too long to plant your pepper seeds and transplant your established plants outside!
The Old Farmer’s Almanac suggests starting pepper seeds indoors 8 to 10 weeks before the last spring frost date, and waiting until the soil temperature is at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18.3 degrees Celsius) before transplanting outdoors.
The ideal (optimal) temperature for pepper seed germination is between 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18.3 degrees Celsius) and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (23.9 degrees Celsius).
Keep in mind that these temperatures refer to soil temperature, not air temperature. If you want to find out the soil temperature, use a probe-type thermometer to check.
If the thermometer reads a temperature that is too low, then you have some options. One option is to wait until the sun warms up the soil.
To speed up this process, clear away any debris, such as leaves or grass clippings, from the soil surface. Also make sure to choose a location for planting that gets plenty of sun, so that it can warm up the soil faster.
If you are worried about a short growing season, you can also use a cloche (a plastic or glass cover) to trap some heat and warm up the air and soil near your pepper seeds.
A cloche can be made from a plastic water bottle to retain warmth and humidity in the soil for seeds or seedlings as they grow.
A cloche can be made from a plastic water bottle, and will keep seeds or seedlings warmer than the surrounding air, especially on sunny days.
A cloche can be made from a plastic water bottle to trap heat and moisture in a small area to help seeds germinate faster.
For more information, check out the table below, and check out this article from the University of California on ideal seed germination temperatures.
|Ideal||65 to 75||18.3 to 23.9|
Watering For Bell Peppers
Avoid letting the soil stay dry for too long, since uneven watering can lead to blossom end rot in peppers. If you find that you have a problem with dry soil, check out my article on how to treat dry soil.
On the other hand, over watering your pepper plants (or any plants for that matter) can lead to root rot and eventual death. The best way to decide when to water is to feel the soil with your fingers.
If the soil feels dry 2 or 3 inches below the surface, then go ahead and water. For more information, check out my article on over watering your plants.
Try to water early in the morning, rather than at night, to allow water to soak into the soil. Avoid getting the leaves wet to prevent rot, mold, and diseases.
Fertilizing For Bell Peppers
Before you plant pepper seeds or transplants in your garden, add some compost to your soil. It will provide organic material and nutrients for your plants as they grow. The best part is that you can make compost yourself from ordinary yard and kitchen waste!
For more information, check out my article on how to make your own compost.
It may be necessary to use fertilizers as a supplement to compost, in order to provide extra nutrients if your soil is lacking. The best way to tell if you need fertilizer is with a soil test.
For more information, check out my article on soil testing.
The soil pH should be between 6.2 and 6.8 – a soil test will also indicate the pH of your soil.
Finally, remember that it is possible to harm or kill your pepper plants by over fertilizing them. For example, too much nitrogen can prevent your pepper plant from producing any fruit.
By now, you have a much better idea of how big bell peppers get, in terms of both the fruit on the vine and the plant itself. You also know a bit more about the care that is necessary to ensure a healthy crop of bell peppers in this year’s garden.
I hope you found this article helpful – if so, please share it with someone else who can use the information. If you have any questions or advice about bell peppers, please leave a comment below.