How to grow sweet peppers from seed

How to grow peppers

All you need to know about sowing, caring for and harvesting sweet peppers, in our Grow Guide.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Sow
Sow

Do Sow in January

Do Sow in February

Do Sow in March

Do Sow in April

Do not Sow in May

Do not Sow in June

Do not Sow in July

Do not Sow in August

Do not Sow in September

Do not Sow in October

Do not Sow in November

Do not Sow in December

Plant
Plant

Do not Plant in January

Do not Plant in February

Do not Plant in March

Do not Plant in April

Do Plant in May

Do Plant in June

Do not Plant in July

Do not Plant in August

Do not Plant in September

Do not Plant in October

Do not Plant in November

Do not Plant in December

Flowers
Flowers

Plant does not flower in January

Plant does not flower in February

Plant does not flower in March

Plant does not flower in April

Plant does flower in May

Plant does flower in June

Plant does flower in July

Plant does not flower in August

Plant does not flower in September

Plant does not flower in October

Plant does not flower in November

Plant does not flower in December

Fruits
Fruits

Plant does not fruit in January

Plant does not fruit in February

Plant does not fruit in March

Plant does not fruit in April

Plant does not fruit in May

Plant does fruit in June

Plant does fruit in July

Plant does fruit in August

Plant does fruit in September

Plant does not fruit in October

Plant does not fruit in November

Plant does not fruit in December

Harvest
Harvest

Do not Harvest in January

Do not Harvest in February

Do not Harvest in March

Do not Harvest in April

Do not Harvest in May

Do Harvest in June

Do Harvest in July

Do Harvest in August

Do Harvest in September

Do not Harvest in October

Do not Harvest in November

Do not Harvest in December

Sweet peppers are easy to grow yourself. While large bell peppers are most commonly grown, you can venture into new pepper-growing territory by choosing from a range of varieties.

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All sweet peppers come from the species Capsicum annum, which is the same species as most commonly grown chillies. Ultimately, chillies and peppers are grown in the same way, so if you can grow chillies, you should have no problem growing pepper.

How to grow peppers

Grow peppers in moist but well-drained soil in a warm, sunny spot, ideally under cover such as in a greenhouse. Peppers need a long season to grow, so it’s best to sow seed as early as January in moist, peat-free multi-purpose compost, and keep in a heated propagator under a growing light, to prevent seedlings going leggy (sow seed in March if you don’t have a heated propagator). Pot on into individual pots when the first true leaves appear. Keep potting on if growing in pots or plant out into the greenhouse when night temperatures exceed 10ºC – ensure the soil or compost is free-draining. Feed weekly with a high potash fertiliser once plants have started flowering, and harvest peppers as and when they ripen.

More on growing peppers:

Find detailed advice on sowing, growing and harvesting peppers, below.


How to sow pepper seed

Growing peppers - sowing pepper seed
Growing peppers – sowing pepper seed

Sow pepper seed indoors as early as January if you have a heated propagator, or from March if you don’t. Transplant seedlings into individual 7.5cm pots, when the first true leaves appear. Eventually, plant into the ground or individually in 30cm pots of peat-free, multi-purpose compost. If growing your peppers outside, wait until all risk of frost has passed before moving them to their final growing positions.


How to care for peppers

How to grow peppers - feeding peppers
How to grow peppers – feeding peppers

Once planted out, peppers require very little attention. Pinch out the growing tips when plants are about 20cm tall to encourage bushy growth. Tall varieties may need staking.

Water your pepper plants little and often. As soon as the first flowers appear, feed weekly with a high-potash liquid fertiliser such as tomato feed.

In hot weather, mist pepper plants to increase humidity and deter red spider mites.


Harvesting peppers

harvesting-sweet-peppers-2

Peppers are ready to pick from late summer. Pick them when they’re green or leave them to ripen (most varieties ripen to red or yellow), to develop a sweeter flavour. Keep feeding plants with a high potash fertiliser to promote fresh flower growth (and therefore more peppers).


Preparing and cooking peppers

To prepare a sweet pepper, remove the seeds and stalk. Slice to eat raw in salads, or add to ratatouille and stir-fries.


How to store peppers

How to grow peppers - how to store peppers
How to grow peppers – how to store peppers

Sweet peppers are best eaten fresh. They will store for a few days in the fridge. If you have a glut of peppers, you can use them in chutneys or soups and sauces, which can then be frozen.


Growing peppers: problem solving

Protect young plants from slugs and snails. Watch out for blossom-end rot and grey mould. These are caused by erratic watering so make sure you water consistently. Red spider mite can be prevented by regular misting, while a soapy spray should despatch whitefly.


Pepper varieties to try

How to grow peppers - sweet pepper 'Banana'
How to grow peppers – sweet pepper ‘Banana’
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  • ‘Carnival Mix’ – large quantities of good-sized, succulent red, orange, yellow, green and purple-black fruits
  • ‘Gypsy’ – produces lots of sweet, well-flavoured fruits that turn orange to red on maturity. Will fruit outdoors
  • ‘Mohawk’ – a strong grower that produces plenty of small, sweet green fruits that ripen to orange
  • ‘Sweet Banana’ – a banana-shaped variety with yellow fruit that matures to green. Gentle spicy flavour. Best grow in a greenhouse.