How to grow sweet peppers

Do it:

Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug

Takes just:

30 minutes

At its best:

Jun, Jul, Aug

The range of sweet peppers available to buy may have increased in recent years, but the choice you get from growing your own is far wider. You don't need a greenhouse to grow sweet peppers - as long as you have a warm, sheltered and sunny site, you should get a decent crop. Sweet peppers are attractive plants (especially when in fruit) so are ideal for growing on a south-facing patio or window sill.

Varieties to try include: 'Mohawk', 'Unicorn', 'Gypsy' and 'Carnival'. These are all suitable for growing both indoors and outdoors.

You will need

Pepper seeds

Seed compost

Multi-purpose compost

Plant pots (7.5cm diameter and 30cm diameter)


Fill pots with compost to 1cm below the rim and firm gently with your fingers to remove air pockets. Sow four to five seeds per pot, ensuring they are well spaced and not too close to the edge, to give seedlings adequate room to grow.

Cover seeds with a thin layer of compost or vermiculite and label pots clearly. Water well using a watering can with the rose attached. Let the water drain from the pots before placing them in a heated propagator or on a warm, well-lit window sill. 

When seedlings are 5-6cm tall, transplant them into individual 7.5cm pots filled with multi-purpose compost. Carefully ease the seedlings out of the original pot and tease the rootball apart. Make a hole in the compost in each new pot and lower the seedlings into position, handling them by their leaves. Firm the compost around the roots, and water. Return plants to a greenhouse or sunny window sill and keep the compost moist. 

When plants start to become pot-bound, transplant them into slightly larger pots filled with multipurpose compost. Keep doing this as plants become pot-bound, stopping only when your plants are ready to plant in a 30cm pot. If growing them outside, harden them off in late May, by gently letting them acclimatise to outdoor conditions. It's a good idea to stake plants to provide additional support, as the crop can be heavy. 

As soon as flowers appear, start feeding the plants weekly with a high-potash liquid feed, such as a tomato fertiliser or comfrey solution. In dry conditions, mist flowers with tepid water to help increase the fruit set and give you a better crop. Keep watering plants, but don't allow the pots to become waterlogged. Harvest peppers when they have reached the size and colour indicated on the seed packet


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