Kinds of Pepper Plants

A chili is any fruit of plants from the genus Capsicum. Chili or "peppers" are in the same family as tomatoes and eggplant-- the nightshade family, Solanaceae. All are warm-season crops. Peppers fall into three groups: bell pepper, sweet pepper and hot pepper.

Banana Peppers

Banana peppers are usually pale greenish yellow. The fat, smooth pods have a mild, sweet flavor. These peppers mature, or begin to bear fruit, at 70 to 90 days, depending upon the variety. Space banana pepper plants about 18 inches apart. Give them full sun, water regularly, and plant them in rich, well-drained soil amended with compost. They're great pickled in vinegar, fried, barbecued on the grill or eaten raw with dip. They're also delicious on deli sandwiches, stuffed and baked, or added to a wide variety of other recipes, from spaghetti to fresh garden salad.

Bell Peppers

Bell peppers offer a mild and slightly sweet taste. Depending on the variety, these plants mature in 70 to 90 days. Plant these pepper plants about 18 inches apart. Give them full sun, water regularly, and plant them in rich, well-drained soil amended with compost. According to Oregon State University Extension Service, there are more than 200 varieties of bell pepper. The fruit is green when it first appears, but if you leave it on the plant, it will turn red, orange or yellow when it fully ripens.

Cayenne Pepper

This is a hot and spicy capsicum pepper. Space cayenne pepper plants about 12 to 18 inches apart. Give them full sun, water regularly, and plant them in rich, well-drained soil amended with compost. The long slender pods are often pickled in vinegar and used as a condiment for salad greens, or used as a replacement for regular vinegar. Cayenne makes a great spice. These peppers are green, but will turn red if you leave them on the plant to fully ripen.

Jalapeno Pepper

Jalapeno peppers can be very hot. They take around 70 days to mature. Space Jalapeno plants about 12 to 18 inches apart. Give them full sun, water regularly, and plant them in rich, well-drained soil amended with compost. Jalapenos are often used in Mexican dishes, on submarine sandwiches and in a variety of other recipes. They may also be steamed, pickled, grilled, baked or stuffed.

Expert Insight

Originating in the tropics, peppers are a warm-season crop. Start seeds indoors in late winter and transplant in the spring after the last predicted frost date, or whenever the soil temperature reaches at least 75 to 80 degrees. According to Oregon State University Extension Service, the ideal temperature for growing peppers is 70 to 80°F during the day and night temperature should not drop below 60 to 70°F. Peppers may be grown for food, as ornamentals or spices. All peppers, but even more so the red ones, are a good source of the antioxidant Vitamins A and C. Chili peppers can take anywhere from 70 to 84 days to reach maturity. As a general rule, place pepper plants about 12 to 18 inches apart. Plant them in full sun, in rich, well-drained soil amended with compost, and water regularly. Mulching helps the soil stay warmer and retain moisture better. You may harvest pepper pods immature and green, or wait until they are fully ripe. Ripe peppers are hotter and more flavorful.

Keywords: types of peppers, pepper varieties, pepper plants

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A professional writer with 20 years of experience, Sally Hansley Odum has been published in over 90 countries. She is currently a contributing writer at Suite101.com, LovetoKnow.com, eHow.com, Travels.com and BrightHub.com. Sally holds a degree in Liberal Arts from Excelsior College.