I have grown pepper plants for two years in a row now and I love them. The ones you grown yourself always taste better than the ones that you buy from the store. There are also so many different varieties, that there is a pepper plant for everyone. All pepper plants will begin to grow green but will eventually change colour but it may take some time.
I bought a pepper plant that was fairly developed as I was a little late with starting my garden of vegetables this year. However, you can also grow them from seeds. Pepper seedlings can be planted out in spring after the last frost. Luckily, these plants can be grown in the ground and also in containers therefore are great for a variety of gardens. They need to be planted in well drained soil and need sunlight for approximately six hours.
I find that the more sunlight the plant has, then the greater the pepper outturn. Although I live in Ireland, where sun is a rarity and I still get a good return from each plant. Some variety of pepper plants will have smaller fruits, which are good for cooler climates are the fruit ripens faster.
They require water after they have been planted and then need to be thoroughly watered throughout the growing season. I wouldn’t water on a schedule with pepper plants, I would check the soil and if it was dry, then water. The plant can also be given a liquid feed and mulch spread on the soil.
Depending on the type of pepper plant that you are growing, it may need to be supported. Stake the plant, I would use bamboo stakes, if I needed to. The pepper plant that I am growing, is a bushy variety therefore it can support itself.
If you have a border of plants and you want to add something different, then I think the pepper plant is a good addition. They have bushy foliage and the peppers themselves add great colour. They are also edible, which is always a bonus.
Pepper plants are lucky in that they don’t normally have many pest problems. Aphids and other small insects can infest a plant and cause them to become fragile. This can be prevented by planting a resistant plant. Or you can use an organic pest spray. I am trying to find a good one and one that is organic, as I don’t like spraying the plants with chemicals. I will let you know how that goes and which one I like the most and is most effective.
Frost can be problematic for pepper plants. This is why they need to be placed outside after the first spring frost. If there is frost after you have planted peppers out, then just cover them to ensure they are protected.
To harvest peppers, use a sharp knife or pruner to cut the peppers from the plant. A short stub of stem should be left on the plant. I would not recommend that you pull the pepper from the plant; it will damage it and may grow growth for the remaining peppers on the plant.
Storage of peppers
I didn’t make it to storage last year, because I cooked them as soon as I took them from the plant. However I like the idea of storing some of use later. If you expect frost and it is near the end of the harvest, then I would recommend removing all the peppers and storing them instead. If they are not fully ripe, once indoors; they will continue to ripen. I could recommend turning them into a pesto or sauce that you can store for later, if you have too many.
Wintering pepper plants
Last year was the first year I had grown peppers and therefore, at the time, wasn’t aware that you can keep pepper plants. I will try it this year though and see if it survives. If you keep a plant alive over winter, it will not produce fruits, unless it is in very hot temperatures.
The plant needs to be taken inside firstly and I would check for any pest infestations, you don’t need that in your home. Spray the plant if there are any. Ensure that all peppers are removed from the plant, including any which have not fully ripened.
The plant can be kept in a cool, dry area; under a window would be ideal. The amount of water you give the plant, can also be reduced as it will no longer be producing fruits. From the information that I have been collecting, once every three to four weeks is sufficient during the winter period.
Obviously, as the plant is not indoor in cooler temperatures with less watering, the plant will start to die back; the leaves will die off. The plant can now be pruned. The branches can be pruned in a Y shares with 1-2 inches on the branches. Once the spring is approaching, you can place the plant in a warmer area and being to water the plant. It will start to grow again.
As the pepper plant is not easy to keep alive over winter, there are no guarantees of success.