Growing bell peppers is challenging in some climates because of their long growing season. Read on to learn how to grow bell peppers indoors and enjoy a year-round harvest of fresh, homegrown produce.
Pepper plants, or Capsicum annuum, are ideal candidates for growing in containers. Most pepper varieties, both bell peppers and hot peppers, have relatively compact growth habits.
They require well-draining potting soil rich in organic matter and a consistent moisture level.
To produce fruit, pepper plants require a minimum of six hours of bright light every day. Use a grow light to augment natural sunlight on shorter days in the fall, winter, and spring.
Growing peppers in pots makes them easy to relocate and allows you to adapt to changing growing conditions. If your area tends to get early frosts in the fall, bring your potted pepper plant indoors to extend the harvest time and get a head start next spring.
- Can You Grow Bell Peppers Indoors?
- Growing Bell Peppers Indoors from Seed
- How to Grow Bell Peppers Indoors from Mature Plants
- Choosing the Best Container for Indoor Pepper Plants
- Ideal Growing Conditions for Pepper Plants
- Best Potting Soil and Fertilizer for Growing Pepper Plants Indoors
- Harvesting Bell Peppers
- Common Problems with Indoor Pepper Plants
Can You Grow Bell Peppers Indoors?
Peppers are perennials that continue producing fruit for many years under the right conditions. If you grow peppers in your garden and practice companion planting for bell pepper, transplant the peppers and bring them indoors for the winter. You can also grow peppers indoors if you care for them properly.
Otherwise, start pepper seeds in trays, then gradually increase the pot size until they’re large enough to transplant into five-gallon containers.
Perhaps you don’t wish to put in extra work for fruiting pepper plants during winter. When growing bell peppers in pots, it’s still beneficial to keep them alive indoors during the colder months.
You’ll start with mature plants in the spring, which begin producing fruit sooner than plants started from seed that same year.
Some ask, “Can you grow bell peppers indoors?” Growing bell peppers indoors is an easy way to add fresh, vibrant flavor to your favorite recipes any time of year. Follow these straightforward steps for success in growing potted pepper plants.
Growing Bell Peppers Indoors from Seed
Starting bell peppers from seed is a relatively simple process if you can provide them with the proper growing conditions.
Most varieties of bell pepper seeds germinate within one to three weeks. To speed up germination and grow jalapenos from seeds, soak seeds in a saturated paper towel for a few hours to break down their protective outer coating faster.
Fill your seed trays with a well-draining seed starting potting mix. Plant seeds a quarter-inch deep, then cover loosely with soil. Mist the tray to lightly saturate the soil. Cover with a humidity dome or sheet of plastic to hold in moisture.
The ideal soil temperature to germinate pepper seeds is 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit. Seeds don’t germinate at temperatures below 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
A refrigerator top is typically an excellent place for germinating seeds. Alternatively, purchase a heat mat from your local garden center.
Once the seedlings begin sprouting, move them to a sunny windowsill with at least six hours of bright light. If you don’t have a south-facing window, consider using a grow light.
Gradually transplant your seedlings to bigger pots as their roots emerge from the drain holes. Avoid increasing the pot size by too much at once. An excess of wet soil that roots don’t touch could lead to fungal disease.
How to Grow Bell Peppers Indoors from Mature Plants
If you have healthy sweet or chili peppers at the end of summer, it’s possible to dig them up, transplant them into a large pot, and keep them alive over the winter. Growing cayenne peppers in pots, and virtually all other kinds of peppers, is easy and productive.
You don’t need to worry about what to plant with bell peppers when they are inside. However, be sure to avoid bringing any insects like aphids or spider mites in with your bell pepper plant.
Begin the transplanting process several weeks before the first frost. Measure the width of your pot. Carefully dig up the root ball roughly the same width as the container.
If there’s extra room, fill in with organic compost, not more garden soil. Water the plant until it flows out of the drain holes, then place it in a sheltered location. Plant peppers in the evening, so the plant has a cool night to recover.
Carefully inspect for signs of insect pests or fungus and remove any diseased leaves or branches. If you see insects, use a garden hose to rinse them off, then move the pot to a different location. Once the leaves are dry, spray the entire plant with insecticidal soap or neem oil.
After a few days without insect activity, move the plants to an intermediary location like your porch so the plants can stay outside during warm days and come indoors on cold nights.
Once daytime temperatures are consistently below 65 degrees Fahrenheit, bring the plants inside until spring. Start hardening plants off once daytime temperatures are above 65 degrees by setting the containers outdoors in a sheltered location.
Do this for progressively longer each day over several weeks, and your peppers will be ready to live outdoors again after the last frost.
Choosing the Best Container for Indoor Pepper Plants
The way to grow peppers in a pot includes a container or pot with drain holes. If waterlogged soil pools at the bottom of the container, it could lead to fungal disease. Place a saucer underneath to catch draining water.
Terracotta pots aren’t ideal for growing peppers. The terracotta absorbs moisture from the soil. Since it’s crucial to keep the soil moist, you’ll have to water significantly more often with terracotta instead of a plastic or glazed ceramic pot.
The pot size depends on which pepper varieties you’re growing. In most cases, a five-gallon container is sufficient.
Ideal Growing Conditions for Pepper Plants
Pepper plants need to grow in full sun. In most cases, they require supplemental light during the winter to produce fruit. Peppers require more light than most other fruiting plants. Six hours is the minimum, but they’ll perform better with eight to twelve hours.
Air and soil temperature are also crucial factors for growing bell-peppers-indoors. Keep the plants at a consistent temperature of 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit. Nighttime temperatures shouldn’t get below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Keep the soil moist but not drenched. Insert your fingertip into the soil up to the first knuckle to check if it’s time to water. If the top inches of soil are completely dry, water the plant until it runs out of the drain holes. Top dress with mulch to hold moisture.
Best Potting Soil and Fertilizer for Growing Pepper Plants Indoors
Use a potting mix rich in organic matter, with added perlite for drainage and peat moss or coconut coir for moisture retention. Alternatively, try making a cost-effective potting mix using this recipe.
Mix the ingredients in a large wheelbarrow. Try to use all of your homemade potting soil at once. If that’s not possible, store it in a cool, dry location in a sealed plastic bag.
In addition to nutrient-rich potting soil, it’s imperative to fertilize the plants monthly. There are three essential nutrients present in plant fertilizer: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K).
Nitrogen enhances leafy growth, phosphorus promotes robust root systems, and potassium encourages fruiting and flowering processes.
When growing peppers from seed, use a balanced organic fertilizer until the plant begins flowering, then switch to a fertilizer with higher levels of phosphorus and potassium.
To prevent blossom end rot, make sure your plants get enough calcium by adding bone meal or lime sulfate to the soil when the plant begins flowering.
Harvesting Bell Peppers
Most pepper varieties take 60-90 days to harvest. Bell peppers have a wide range of colors, including yellow, orange, red, and purple.
Use a clean, sharp knife or scissors when harvesting bell peppers to avoid damaging the plant. Cut the stem a half-inch from the main branch.
Green bell peppers aren’t ripe yet. All peppers are green when they’re immature. Green peppers tend to have a tart, slightly bitter flavor.
If you prefer a sweeter taste, wait to harvest bell peppers until they’ve ripened. For hot peppers like jalapeno, habanero, or Thai chilies, green peppers have a milder spice level than mature ones.
Be sure you know where to store green bell peppers after picking them so they don’t go to waste. Freezing, drying, and pickling are only a few delicious options.
Common Problems with Indoor Pepper Plants
Pests and disease problems when you plant bell peppers indoors are less prevalent. For example, aphids on bell pepper plants inside don’t happen often. However, monitor for signs of plant distress. When transplanting mature pepper plants, thoroughly check for insect damage or disease signs before bringing them indoors.
Yellow leaves are frequently a sign of overwatering. However, they sometimes indicate fungal diseases. Let the soil dry thoroughly before rewatering, and avoid splashing the leaves.
If the plant drops flower buds and growth seems stunted, temperatures are probably too low. Move it to a warmer location and ensure it’s not near a drafty window.
If fruit appears stunted, flattened, or drops off the plant prematurely, give your pepper plant some pollination help. Although peppers are self-pollinating, this process typically happens through wind.
When growing bell peppers indoors, run a circulation fan to simulate a light breeze or use a paintbrush to transfer pollen between flowers.
You may wonder, “Are wrinkled bell peppers okay to eat?” A few little wrinkles are nothing to worry about, but heavily wrinkled fruits are probably old and leathery and not worth eating. Add them to the compost pile instead.
Have you ever wondered, “Can you grow bell peppers indoors?” The answer is yes. As long as they receive plenty of light and warmth, there are numerous options for which pepper varieties to grow.
Plant bell peppers indoors and enjoy a year-round harvest of yellow, orange, purple, or red bell peppers.
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