From seed it takes 120-150 days for most bell peppers to grow. Most seed packets will list 60-90 days to maturity. This is because the normal way to grow bell pepper is to start them inside for 8 weeks.
How Long Does It Take Bell Peppers to Sprout?
Bell pepper seeds will sprout in 5-21 days depending on the soil temperature. A warmer temperature will make the seeds germinate faster and in a colder temperature they will germinate slower. 80-90 degrees is the ideal range for bell pepper seeds to germinate at.
Most garden plant seeds germinate faster in warmer temperatures and that’s the purpose of heating mats.
If you do use a heating mat remember to remove it once 50% or so of a tray has sprouted because small seedling plants grow better in cooler temperatures, around 55-75 degrees.
Bell pepper seeds are typically planted indoors because they are warm weather plants that require a long grow season. Starting bell peppers inside is the norm for a reason. You’ll get a bigger plant in the end that will produce more bell peppers.
After bell pepper seeds sprout move them to a south facing window. Seedlings like lower temperatures than seeds like to germinate. Still, don’t put the sprouts right against the window.
Use cardboard covered in aluminum foil or any white shiny surface to put behind the seedlings to increase the amount of light they’re getting.
If you do decide to plant bell pepper seeds outside wait until soil temperatures are at least 70 degrees. Use a soil thermometer to test the soil temperature. A soil thermometer is basically a meat thermometer that reads down to lower temperatures.
Combined with knowing the last frost date it’s a great way to know when to plant different vegetable seeds outside. Wait until 9-11 AM to get an average soil temperature.
Check out “How To Plant Bell Pepper Seeds” for more information on seed planting.
How Long From Flower to Fruit for Bell Peppers?
After flowers appear on the bell pepper plant bell peppers will start to form from the flowers in around 14 days.
From when bell peppers start to from until they reach their full size will be around 35 days. Bell pepper fruits will have changed color and be fully ripened about 2 weeks after they reach full size.
Most bell pepper varieties will form into a green bell pepper first. All green bell peppers in stores are the immature version of a variety that if left on the vine would have turned color and ripened.
Green bell peppers are cheaper than the different color orange, yellow, and red bell peppers. This is because the grower doesn’t have to leave them on the vine as long so they free up space sooner, use less water, fertilizer, and labor taking care of them, and have less chance of the peppers developing blemishes.
Green bell peppers are fine to eat at any stage but because they are immature they taste less sweet and are less nutritious than bell peppers that have fully ripened.
Check out “Bell Pepper Flowers & Pollination” to learn more about the bell pepper plants flowering and pollination habits.
Are Bell Peppers Easy to Grow?
Bell peppers are not difficult to grow but they are a warm weather plant that requires a long season. Start bell pepper plants indoors for 8-12 weeks to get a good size bell pepper plant that gives good yields come harvest time.
Bell peppers have what’s called “perfect” flowers, meaning they have both male and female parts in a single flower. They are also called “self-fertile” and can pollinate with one plant and even if only one flower grows on that plant.
Although bell pepper plants are warm weather plants too much heat during the flowering, pollination, and fruit production period can create a problem.
If temperatures are going to reach above 90 degrees for more than a couple days consider getting bell pepper plants out of the midday sun by using a shade cloth, bed sheets, or whatever else you have around.
Do Pepper Plants Grow Back Every Year?
Bell pepper plants are tender perennials that can live 5+ years. Cold enough soil temperatures will kill off the root system of the plant and it will not grow back. In warmer climates without hard frosts bell pepper plants will grow back every year.
In these warmer climates bell peppers will produce their fruit and then once temperature lows get into the 40’s and 50’s the plants will start to enter dormancy. They will most likely shed all of their leaves but stay alive through the winter and start to grow new leaves in the spring.
In colder climates it is possible to overwinter bell pepper plants indoors. This is possible with supplemental lighting or without.
Without supplemental lighting the bell pepper plant needs to be pruned back significantly to about 1/3 of it’s size. If you’re pulling the pot from the soil to put it into a pot cut back the root system as well by about 1/2. If the plant is already potted don’t worry about the roots.
Depending on how much light you get inside the bell pepper plant might have slow new growth or no growth at all until the next spring. It will not use much water or nutrients in this dormant state.
If you have supplemental lighting you can bring the bell pepper plant indoors and it will continue to grow like gangbusters.
By the end of one season you can have a behemoth pepper plant like the one in the video above that will produce a serious bell pepper haul the following season.
Please comment below with your own thoughts or experiences with how long bell peppers take to grow or anything else related!