Bell peppers, a part of the Capsicum annuum species, are colorful and flavorful additions to any kitchen. Bell peppers are rich in vitamins A and C, and nutrients such as lycopene and beta-carotene. The sweet flesh of the bell pepper, whether raw, roasted, grilled and pureed for soups, dips and sauces can enhance the dullest menu. When space or physical constraints prevent you from gardening, containers will bring the flavorful benefits of fresh, home-grown bell peppers into your kitchen.
Plant bell peppers in containers that are at least 24 inches in circumference and have a depth of at least 8 inches to support the root structures. Ensure that each container has a drainage hole to maintain proper moisture level in the soil.
Start bell pepper seeds indoors at least eight weeks before the last frost to ensure proper growth during the planting season. Fill peat pots with a quality potting mix and plant two to three seeds per pot. Eliminate all but the strongest sprout once the plants have germinated and have grown one to two sets of true leaves,
Fill the container almost to the rim with a blend of potting soil, compost and water-soluble fertilizer (follow manufacturer's recommendations for application). Add enough water to dampen the soil without making it soggy.
Transplant the seedlings or starter plants into the final container by digging a hole deep enough to completely cover the root ball. Put the plants directly into the soil if you use peat pots, as the pot will break down over time. Loosen the root ball with a butter knife, hold the base of the plant with your fingers and turn the pot upside down to remove the plant if you use starter plants. Gently loosen the roots around the soil, then place the root ball into the container soil. Cover each plant up to the base of the stem with soil.
Support bell pepper plants with bamboo stakes as they grow, become heavier and mature. Cut the stakes in half, if necessary, so that they extend at least 2 feet above the soil line. Wrap old panty hose or heavy string around the stalk and loosely tie it to the stake as the stalk grows.
Fertilize bell pepper plants at least once every two weeks with a high-quality plant food, rich in phosphorous. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for dosage. Water the bell peppers at least once a week, but do not saturate the soil. Check the soil daily, and water as needed to maintain even moisture throughout the container during dry periods.
Things You Will Need
- Bell pepper seeds or starter plants
- Small peat pots
- Potting soil
- Bamboo stakes
- String or old pantyhose
- Water-soluble fertilizer
- 24-inch or larger containers
- Green bell peppers are those that are picked prematurely. If left on the plant to ripen, they will turn red and become much sweeter.
- Avoid feeding bell peppers with too much nitrogen, as this will deter production of peppers and increase foliage growth.
- Tightening the support strings around the bell pepper's stalk can damage the plant.
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