Pepper-growing questions answered
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 17, 2013
URBANA – During the growing
season, home gardeners often have questions about the popular pepper plant,
said University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator Ron Wolford.
Wolford described and provided research-based answers to
some of the frequently asked questions about growing peppers, resulting from
situations and problems encountered by growers.
What are some tips for a new gardener wanting to grow
"Peppers can vary from very sweet to extremely hot," Wolford
said. "Some of the newer bell peppers come in a kaleidoscope of colors from
orange, to bright red and white, to purple and almost black. Peppers must have
full sun for 6 to 8 hours. Plant when both the temperature and soil are warm.
Space the plants 18 to 24 inches apart. They will need the equivalent of 1 inch
of moisture per week."
"Use a starter fertilizer at transplanting, and fertilize
again with a complete fertilizer when peppers start to form," Wolford added.
"Most peppers can be harvested during any stage of development, except for
green peppers, which are most often picked when they are fully mature. Cut
fruits from the plant when harvesting. Most hot peppers are harvested when they
turn red. Be careful when touching hot peppers as skin and eyes can become
irritated. Using plastic gloves when picking or handling hot peppers is
What are some recommended new varieties of peppers to
"You can't grow wrong growing some of the newer varieties of
peppers evaluated by All-America Selections," Wolford said.
These varieties include:
-Pepper 'Cayennetta': This pepper is an easy-to-grow pepper
for new gardeners. 'Cayennetta' yields 3- to 4- inch chili peppers. It
does not need staking, making it a great container plant. It has dense foliage
that protects it from sun scald. Pepper 'Cayennetta' is also tolerant of cool
-Pepper 'Orange Blaze': This pepper matures to a
bright orange color in about 70 days from transplanting. It has a sweet flavor
with good disease resistance. The peppers are 3 to 4 inches long.
-Pepper 'Cajun Belle': This variety looks like small bell
peppers. They have just a bit of hotness. 'Cajun Belle' goes from green to
scarlet to a deep red. It is good for containers and small gardens. It will
yield 50 peppers per plant and will stay fresh for several weeks without
-Pepper 'Carmen': This is a sweet pepper with a
"bull's horn" shape. The elongated peppers will grow about 6 inches long. These
peppers are sweet at almost any stage of growth. They are noted for their
earliness to turn red at about 75 days after transplanting. The plants will
grow to 30 inches tall so they will do well in large containers.
For more information on other pepper varieties, visit the
All-America Selections website at http://www.all-americaselections.org.
What is the problem if flowers are falling off the plant
but there are no peppers?
"Flower drop early in the growing season is normal," Wolford
said. "Plants will often produce more flowers than they need. Peppers will also
drop flowers because of overwatering, over-fertilization with nitrogen, or when
temperatures are above 85 degrees or too cool. If temperatures are too high,
the plants will set fruit once the temperatures cool."
What causes brown—almost rotten—spots, and whitish areas
"The brownish areas are most likely blossom end-rot, which is
caused by fluctuations in soil moisture," Wolford explained. "Giving your
garden an inch of moisture on a weekly basis will help to prevent the rot.
Using mulches also helps. The whitish areas are probably a result of sun scald.
Plants that have lost leaves due to an insect or disease problem may exhibit
this condition. Keeping your plants healthy will alleviate this problem. Also,
growing a pepper with dense foliage like Pepper 'Cayennetta' can help to reduce
For more information on growing peppers and other
vegetables, visit the University of Illinois Extension's website, Watch Your
Garden Grow, at http://urbanext.illinois.edu/veggies/.
Source: Ron Wolford, Extension Educator, Horticulture, firstname.lastname@example.org