When Do Pepper Plants Produce Fruit? (4 Things To Know)


If you planted peppers this year, you might not see any fruit on the plants yet.  In that case, you may be wondering when your pepper plants will produce fruit, and if there is anything you can do to help them along.

So, when does a pepper plant produce fruit?  A sweet pepper plant produces fruit after 60 to 90 days (9 to 13 weeks) when grown from a transplant.  A hot pepper plant can take as long as 150 days (21 weeks) to produce fruit after transplant.  A pepper plant grown directly from seed takes an additional 56 to 70 days (8 to 10 weeks) to produce fruit.  Pepper plants will continue to grow and produce fruit until they are stopped or killed by cold or frost.

Of course, depending on the variety of pepper plant you choose, it may take a longer time for your plant to begin producing fruit.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at pepper plants and when they bear fruit. We’ll also look at some of the factors that affect growth of peppers.

Let’s begin.

When Do Pepper Plants Produce Fruit?

Depending on the variety, a pepper plant can produce fruit 60 to 150 days after being transplanted to the garden. As a general rule, hot peppers takes longer to produce fruit than bell peppers.

You can buy established pepper plants from local nurseries or buy them online and have them delivered to your home. Another option that takes more time and work (but may save you a little money) is growing your own pepper plants from seed.

pepper in cage
You can buy established pepper plants, or start your own from seed indoors.

If you decide to grow peppers from seed, it will take 56 to 70 days longer for the plants to bear fruit. This reflects the time it takes for a seed to germinate and grow to a size where it is ready for transplant into the garden.

(By the way, you can learn more about how to speed up pepper seed germination in my article here.)

This means that from sowing seeds to harvesting peppers, you will need to wait anywhere from 116 to 220 days in total.

One final note: you can get yellow, orange, or red bell peppers from green ones. Just leave them on the vine to ripen a bit longer (according to the Cooperative Extension, it can take 2 to 3 weeks for green bell peppers to ripen to red).

It can take another week or two for the colors to change.  At that point, the peppers will have their new colors, they will taste a little sweeter, and they will have more of the Vitamins A and C.

Do Pepper Plants Produce Year Round?

In theory, if you stagger the planting of pepper plants and keep them warm, you can get peppers year round. Pepper plants are technically perennial, which means that they can survive more than one year.

(If you have trouble getting fruit on your pepper plant, check out my article on why your pepper plants are not producing fruit.)

However, peppers are usually treated as annual and replaced each year. This is mainly due to cold winter temperatures.

frosted leaf
Cold winter temperatures make it difficult to keep pepper plants alive year round.

Cold temperatures can delay the production and ripening of fruit on pepper plants.  In fact, temperatures that are cold enough (such as a late spring frost) can kill pepper plants that are transplanted outside too early.

(You can learn more about how to protect pepper plants from cold in my article here).

You might not have luck planting peppers from seed outdoors (direct sowing) in colder areas, such as parts of the northern U.S.  If you live in a region with a short growing season, you should start your peppers indoors from seed.

To do this, start the seeds indoors 8 to 10 weeks before the last frost date.  To find the last frost date for your area, you can use the Frost Date Calculator on the Old Farmer’s Almanac website.

For example, if your last frost date is May 8, then you would start pepper seeds indoors between February 27 and March 13 (8 to 10 weeks or 56 to 70 days before the last frost date on May 8).

For more information related to the timing of planting seeds, transplanting seedlings, and harvesting peppers, check out this article on peppers from Michigan State University.

You can also check out this article on growing peppers from seed from the Burpee website.

How Much Fruit Does A Pepper Plant Produce?

A bell pepper plant can produce 6 to 8 fruits in a growing season. Hot pepper plants produce smaller fruit in larger numbers (I have seen dozens of hot peppers on a single plant).

With excellent care (enough space between plants, good nutrition, proper watering, etc.), a pepper plant will produce even more fruit.

purple bell peppers
A pepper plant can produce 6 to 8 fruits per plant. Some varieties with smaller fruit will produce more.

For more information, check out this article on peppers from Michigan State University.

Depending on the stage of ripeness, the fruit on a pepper plant can have various colors, including:

  • green
  • yellow
  • orange
  • red
  • purple

Later in this article, I have provided some links to different varieties that have fruit of many different colors.

In theory, a pepper plant can survive the winter if you bring it indoors.  However, a mature pepper plant may not survive the transplant shock.

If it does survive transplant, it’s roots may be damaged and its growth and fruit production will slow.

From a practical standpoint, most people simply start new pepper plants from seed or buy new transplants each year.  However, if you do want to treat your pepper plants as perennial, you can plant them in pots and bring them indoors during the winter.

Just keep in mind that growing a plant in a pot may eventually cause it to become root bound. This will stunt its growth potential.

For more information, check out my article on clay versus plastic pots.

Do Pepper Plants Die After Harvest?

Most pepper plants do not die after producing fruit.  Instead, they can survive until cold and frost kill them.  If you live in a warm region with mild winters, you can treat your peppers as perennial.

pepper plant
You can treat your peppers as perennials and get fruit from them after the first year. You just need to make sure they survive the winter!

How long pepper plants live will depend on the climate they are in. If kept warm, you will be able to keep your pepper plants alive for 5 years!

What Kind Of Pepper Plant Should I Get?

There are both sweet and hot pepper varieties to consider.  In addition, you can choose pepper plants that have a shorter height and smaller width.

These compact pepper plants are ideal if you want to grow them in containers (either indoors or outdoors).

jalapeno pepper plant
This is a jalapeno pepper, which is a type of hot pepper. Bell peppers are another option.

If you choose to grow a taller pepper variety, you might want to give them support using tomato cages, stakes, or trellises.  For more information, check out my article on trellises.

Before choosing pepper plants, you should also consider the length of your growing season and the time to maturity for the pepper plants you choose.

Here are some pepper varieties from Burpee that you can try – the first three are sweet peppers, and the last three are hot peppers.

Sweet Peppers

Hot Peppers

Do You Need Two Pepper Plants To Produce Fruit?

You do not need two pepper plants to produce fruit.  All pepper plants are self-pollinating, which means that the flowers contain both male and female parts.

pepper flower
Pepper plants are self-pollinating, so you only need one plant to get fruit. Bees can still help them to pollinate!

As a result, you only need one pepper plant in order to produce fruit from the plant (no cross-pollination is required). However, keep in mind that self-pollination does not mean guaranteed pollination.

If you lack pollinators such as bees in your garden, you may need to use an electric toothbrush to pollinate by hand.  For more information, check out my article on pollinating pepper plants.

What Other Factors Can Affect Fruit On Pepper Plants?

The quality of care that you give your pepper plants will determine how much fruit you get each year.  Some of the most important factors are:

  • temperature
  • watering
  • fertilizing
  • pruning
  • support

Let’s start off with temperature.

Temperature

Pepper plants are tropical, so they prefer warm temperatures. Early fall frosts or late spring frosts can spell death for them.

When temperatures fall below 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (13 to 16 degrees Celsius) at night, your plants may stop producing fruit.

thermometer
Pepper plants suffer when temperatures drop below 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

At the start of the season, you should not transplant peppers outside until nighttime temperatures are consistently above 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (13 to 16 degrees Celsius).

(If you already transplanted peppers outside and a frost threatens, check out my article on protecting your pepper plants from cold.)

For pepper seed germination, the ideal soil temperature is 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 24 degrees Celsius).

For more information on bell peppers, check out this article from the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

Watering

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.

garden hose
Be careful not to over or under water your pepper plants!

On the other hand, over watering your pepper plants 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.

To avoid getting leaves wet, water from below near the stems at ground level (rather than spraying the leaves). You can also try using drip irrigation to conserve water and save yourself some time and effort.

If you do decide to water by hand with a hose or bucket, remember to water deeply and infrequently (rather than a little bit every day). Deep and infrequent watering will encourage a stronger root system and a more resilient pepper plant.

Fertilizing

Before you put pepper 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!

compost bin
Compost can add both organic material and nutrients to your soil, which will help your pepper plants to grow.

For more information, check out my article on how to make your own compost.

It may be necessary to use fertilizer 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.

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.

Always follow the instructions on a fertilizer package to avoid overdoing it. For more information, check out my article on over fertilizing and my article on low-nitrogen fertilizers.

Pruning

Some gardeners choose to prune off the lower leaves and branches of peppers plants as they grow.  The result is fewer (but larger) fruits on the vine.

pruning shears
Pruning pepper plants can help to prevent disease and give you fewer but larger fruit.

In addition, pruning the lower leaves and branches of the pepper plant will also help to prevent the spread of disease in your garden.  When you remove the lower leaves and branches, there is less chance of dirt splashing up onto leaves due to rain or watering.

Support

Some varieties of peppers grow taller than others.  For the taller ones, you can install supports (such as tomato cages) when putting pepper transplants in the garden.

pepper in cage
A cage will provide support for a pepper plant so it can grow straight up, rather than along the ground.

Supports save space by allowing pepper plants to grow vertically, rather than spreading out over the ground. This also keeps the leaves, vines, and fruit off of the ground, reducing the chance of diseases or rotten fruit.

For more information, check out my article on why to use tomato cages to support plants.

Conclusion

Now you have a much better idea of when your pepper plant will produce fruit.  You also know a bit more about how to take care of pepper plants and how to avoid the problems that can affect your harvest.

If you find your pepper plants growing slowly, you can learn why (and how to fix it) in my article here.

I hope you found this article helpful – if so, please share it with someone who can use the information.

If you want to read some of my most popular posts, check out the “Best of GreenUpSide” page here.  Enjoy!

~Jonathon

jonathon.david.madore

Hi, I'm Jon. Let's solve your gardening problems, spend more time growing, and get the best harvest every year!

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