Fiery hot chili peppers, mild green bell peppers or deep purple and red sweet peppers are all called capsicums. Capsicums are part of the family of flowering nightshade plants called solanaceae. Native to tropical South America, capsicums are not frost hardy. They will grow as a perennial in warm frost-free climates. In cool northern climates, capsicums are planted as annuals after the last frost, harvested before winter and replanted in the spring. Growing a pepper plant at home will bring the bright colors, and if you desire, fiery heat, to your home garden.
Fill a bowl with clear warm water. Put your capsicum seeds into the water and leave them to soak overnight. Start seeds six to eight weeks before the last frost date in your area.
Mix equal parts vermiculite, rich garden soil and coarse clean sand to create a loose, well-draining seed-starting potting soil. You can also buy seed-starting potting soil at your local garden store.
Fill a seed-starting planting tray with the potting soil mix. The trays that are divided into individual 2-inch compartments are ideal. Water the soil until it is evenly and thoroughly damp.
Make a 1/4-inch deep hole in each compartment using a pencil or your index finger. Place one seed in each hole and cover it with soil.
Place the tray on a sunny windowsill where it will get at least six hours of sunlight a day. The soil temperature must be between 65 and 85 degrees F for the seeds to germinate.
The seedlings will begin to emerge anywhere from seven days to six weeks from the time of planting. Keep the seeds where they will get six or more hours of sunlight and keep the soil damp but not saturated.
After the last frost has passed, daytime temperatures range between 70 and 80 degrees F and nighttime temperatures do not drop below 60 degrees F, you can transplant your capsicum seedlings outside.
Dig holes 18 inches apart and in rows spaced 24 inches apart. The holes should be slightly larger than the root ball or container that the pepper seedling will come out of.
Add starter fertilizer to each hole; check the package for the right amount per plant. Place one seedling in each hole and fill in the soil around it. Pat down the earth and water the area until it is damp to a depth of 3 inches.
Water every two to three days in hot weather, less in rainy cool weather. You want to keep the soil damp but not saturated and avoid letting the soil dry out all together.
Fertilize your capsicum plants after the first set of fruit has ripened. Use a liquid tomato food fertilizer; check the package for the right dilution and application. Fertilize once a month after the first application.
Harvest the peppers as they become ripe. All peppers can be eaten green or allowed to ripen to full color on the vine. Clip the peppers from the plant using sharp pruning shears or a knife.