Greenhouse Growing: Bell Peppers
Growing bell pepper plants from seed in a greenhouse can be a rewarding and cost-effective way to produce a bounty of sweet and spicy peppers that can be used as starters, in salads, or in cooking. If you're looking to grow sweet peppers from seed this season, read our handy guide for simple yet effective grow your own practices.
Popular Homegrown Bell Pepper Varieties
There are many varieties of bell pepper plants that can be grown from seed, and each has its own unique flavour and characteristics. Here are some of the most popular bell pepper varieties that are suitable for growing from seed in the UK:
This is a classic bell pepper variety that is known for its sweet, mild flavour and thick-walled, blocky fruits. California wonder peppers are a medium to large size and turn from green to red when ripe. They are popular for both fresh eating and to use in cooking.
King of the North
Similar to California wonder but a little shorter in size, these are a medium to large bell pepper variety known for its sweet, juicy flavour and thin walls. King of the north peppers are medium green when young and turn red when ripe. They are popular for both fresh eating and cooking.
A dwarf, sweet bell pepper that's perfect for growing in pots and in the greenhouse. Considering how compact they are to grow, they are exceptionally high yielding for a large crop of sweet peppers, suited to both salads, dipping into hummus, or for cooking.
By growing a variety of bell pepper plants from seed, you can enjoy a range of flavours and colours in your meals. Whether you prefer sweet and mild peppers or spicy and hot ones, there is a bell pepper variety that will suit your taste and needs.
Step-by-Step Guide to Optimal Bell Pepper Growing
Here is a step-by-step guide to help you get started growing your own peppers:
- Start seeds indoors about 6-8 weeks before the last frost date in your area. Bell pepper seeds have a relatively long germination period, so it is important to start them early. Fill a seed tray or pots with seed compost or a soilless mix and water well. Sow seeds about 1/4 inch deep and cover them with a layer of compost or vermiculite.
- Place the tray or pots in a warm, sunny location, or use a heat mat to keep the soil temperature at around 21-24°C. Keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged, and consider using a plastic cover or propagator to help retain moisture and heat.
- Once the seeds have germinated and the seedlings have emerged, transfer them to a greenhouse or a sunny windowsill. Keep the seedlings well-watered and fertilize every two weeks with a balanced liquid fertiliser.
- When the seedlings are about 6-8 inches tall and the threat of frost has passed, transplant them into pots or the ground in your greenhouse. Choose a location that gets at least 6-8 hours of sunlight per day and has well-draining soil.
- Water the plants regularly, keeping the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged. Mulch around the base of the plants to help retain moisture and suppress weeds.
- As the peppers begin to grow, support them with stakes or cages to keep them upright. Prune off any suckers that grow from the base of the plant to direct the plant's energy into producing peppers.
- To encourage fruit production, pinch off the growing tips of the plants once they reach the desired size. This will encourage lateral growth and more flowers and fruit.
- Harvest the peppers when they are ripe and enjoy them fresh, or preserve them by freezing, drying, or pickling.
By following these steps, you should be able to successfully grow a healthy crop of bell pepper plants in your greenhouse. With a little patience and care, you will be rewarded with a bounty of sweet and spicy peppers that are sure to add flavour and nutrition to your meals.