Learning how to grow peppers is all about patience – and a bit of luck with summer weather. A useful and nutritious vegetable for adding to your salads and cooking with, the pepper comes in many varieties, from the sweet bell peppers we all know to exotic and super spicy varieties. Find out how to grow them successfully in gardens big and small.
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Where to grow peppers in your garden
The main thing to know about peppers is that they like a lot of heat and sunlight, so always grow them in the sunniest and most sheltered spot in your garden. A sunny window sill is also a good candidate for growing peppers – in fact, smaller varieties such as chilli peppers will easily grow on a sunny window sill indoors.
The thicker and juicier your peppers, the more sun and warmth they will need to grow properly. If your garden/window sill isn't south facing, choose a thinner variety that needs less sun and less growing time to reach maturity. Try banana peppers, for example.
How to grow peppers
1. Begin by planting seeds in a seed container or growing bag between February and late April. Remember, peppers like it warm and moist, so keep them in a greenhouse or indoors until the weather's warm enough for them to be planted outside.
2. When the seedlings are about three inches tall and have begun to form leaves, transplant them into pots or a garden bed. Pay attention to soil quality: if yours is poor, replace the top layer of your garden soil with nutrient-rich compost. If growing in containers, they'll be fine outside from mid-May onwards; plant out into open beds in late May.
3. Once your peppers plants are established, pinch out the side shoots if you don't want your peppers to be too big.
4. Water regularly and harvest the fruit when it's full sized, green, and shiny. You can also leave them to ripen before picking, but that will give you a smaller harvest.
Top tip: Peppers are prone to pests such as aphids; control them with a natural pesticide such as a Castille soap and water solution.
Growing peppers: common problems
Peppers are relatively easy to grow, but they do suffer from their fair share of pests and diseases. Typically, you'll see signs of problems on the leaves, with the most common signs to look out for including:
- Wilting, rolling leaves without discolouration: this is a common reaction to cool, wet weather. If you're constantly getting this problem, you may have more luck growing peppers in a greenhouse.
- Leaves that are wilting and turn yellow, then brown: this is a sign of pests. Spray with soapy water or sprinkle with diatomaceous earth.
- Leaves that have black spots on them: this is a sign of a fungal infection. Make sure you're watering at the root of the plant only and keep weeds under control as they trap further moisture.