Bell Pepper: All About This Plant That Is Actually A FRUIT

Bell pepper (Capsicum annuum) is also called sweet pepper or capsicum, which is botanically considered a fruit in Solanaceae’s nightshade family. Bell pepper is grown for its thick large, mild, furrowed “fruits” in different colors, including red, yellow, orange, green, white, and purple.

As we already mentioned, bell pepper is, botanically speaking, considered a fruit. Still, most professional chefs use them as a vegetable like most of us. But thankfully, this article will explain what the bell pepper plant is and if you can grow it in your garden.

In warm regions, bell pepper is grown as a perennial, and as you might guess, pepper is also native to Mexico, Central America, and northern South America. Bell peppers are mostly used in salads and different cuisines, and the best part is that they are high in vitamin A and vitamin C.

Bell peppers are close relatives to tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes, and tobacco. However, while tomatoes and potatoes are easy to grow, bell peppers are challenging because they need heat and sun to prosper.

Peppers will sit in your garden and wait for the right conditions before they start to grow. The plant needs patience from the grower as they may not produce any fruits on their plants in colder climates until the end of summer, which can be very frustrating.

Common NameBell Pepper
Botanical NameCapsicum Annuum
Plant TypeDepending On The Climate, Annual Or A Perennial
Size (Fully Grown)3 To 6 Feet (About 0,91 To 1,83 Meters) High
Sun ExposureFull Sun
Soil TypeOne That Is Loamy And Sandy + Drains Well And Is Rich In Organic Matter
Soil pHFrom 5.8 To 6.8
Flower ColorWhite
U.S. Hardiness Zones4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, And 11
Native AreaAmerica

How Many Bell Pepper Varieties Are There?

Like the other plants in the Solanaceae family, bell pepper also has many varieties that vary in their growing needs, color, and taste. However, Bell pepper is highly famous, which means we’ve grown it for thousands of years.

We can divide the different pepper varieties into sweet peppers and hot peppers or chilis. Here is a list of the most common bell pepper varieties:

  1. Blitz
  2. Milena
  3. Galileo
  4. Garfield
  5. Bayonet
  6. Revolution
  7. Antebellum
  8. Touchdown
  9. Mellow Star
  10. Blazing Banana
  11. Mama Mia Giallo

Origins And History Of The Bell Pepper Plant

Capsicum is the name of a flowering plant’s genus and fruit that we know and eat as “bell peppers” or just “peppers.” Other pepper variants are “spicy.” We commonly call them chili peppers, while those that taste mild or sweet are called red pepper, green pepper, or bell pepper.

The name “pepper” was given by Europeans and Spanish explorers searching for peppercorn plants to produce black pepper. The name comes from the spicy flavor that black pepper has. But, you might be surprised to know that bell pepper and black pepper don’t have a botanical relationship with each other.

Bell pepper is a native in Mexico, Central America, and South America. One of the reasons why pepper started to be popular in Europe was that people could replace black pepper with it, and the main reason was that black pepper was a costly plant, and some people even used it as a currency. Since then, peppers have also been introduced to Africa and Asia.

How To Recognize Bell Pepper?

Most pepper plants look pretty like each other, but some are taller and bushier than others. But as a general note, they are between 1,6 to 5 feet (about 0.5-1.5 meters) tall and produce many branches when it grows.

The fruits sweet pepper produces can be boxy, stocky, round, long and thin, and in shades of green, red, yellow, orange, or purple. The leaves alternate lance-shaped, simple, and vary from light to dark green. The flowers are white or yellow star-shaped, usually borne singly.

The plant starts to produce fruits 2 to 6 days after the flowers drop, and the fruits will vary in size, shape, color, and flavor. They are usually more or less conical, up to 12 inches long (about 30 cm), and be green, yellow, cream, or purple when they are still immature. But when they are mature, they are either colored red, orange, yellow, or brown.

© Filip – stock.adobe.com

How to Grow Bell Pepper?

All peppers are short-living tropical perennials that prefer moderately warm days and nights. Since they are perennial, you can bring them indoors during winter and grow them as houseplants. But, they have no tolerance for cold weather, so if you plan on getting them inside, do it quickly.

You need to start the seeds 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost date in spring and remember to sow the seeds and place them in a warm, sunny spot. It would be best if you planted your bell peppers at least two feet (about 61 cm) away from neighboring plants, but 3 feet (approximately 91 cm) is optimal. After that covering them with plastic will help with fast germination.

Like eggplant, peppers need constant soil moisture once their growth begins. It’s also essential to provide a heat source, like a seedling heat mat, to do this. Remember that the optimal temperature is only 65°F (about 18°C), so remember to avoid temperatures above that. A temperature lower than 55°F (approximately 12,7°C) can also harm or at least slow down the growth of your peppers.

After you’ve sown the seeds, germination usually takes about ten days. Of course, this means that the soil needs to be warm enough for germination to occur. Once the seeds germinate and have two to three real leaves, repot them in larger containers filled with damp potting soil. You could add organic fertilizer according to label recommendations because that will encourage vigorous growth.

Lastly, it’s essential to water the newly potted plants well and keep them consistently moist.

Light

Like other plants, Bell pepper needs a full sun growing environment, which means at least 8 hours of sunlight each day.

Water

For improved fruit production, keep the plants evenly moist throughout the season, and don’t forget to provide your bell peppers 2 inches (about 5 cm) of water each week. If the soil gets too wet or too dry, you’ll likely notice a decline in the plant’s health or fruit development.

Soil

A rich, loamy, well-draining soil with a pH near neutral 5.8 to 6.8 is ideal for planting.

Temperature

Bell peppers love heat, and thus they will grow well in warm temperatures. However, keep in mind that the plant has a low tolerance towards cold, so as a consequence, you need to grow them indoors or in a greenhouse during winter.

Fertilizer

Use a well-balanced fertilizer that is labeled for edible plants. While fertilizing is helpful, be careful that you don’t over-fertilize your peppers. This is because too little fertilizing can adversely affect fruit production, but fertilizing too much can lead to the same results. So, lightly fertilize the soil when you transplant, and after the first fruit set for the best results.

The Uses Bell Pepper Has

Bell pepper is not just the sweet type in the capsicum family, but people also use it because of its color and odorless and subtle taste in different cuisines. This might also be why bell pepper is the most popular condiment worldwide. Here are a few uses of Bell pepper plants around the globe.

You can use the plant when it’s dried, just like chili pepper and paprika, but also when it’s fresh, and use it in your salads, baked dishes, or even add it to soups and stews.

Also, pepper is an excellent source of vitamins, but I want to mention that the most nutrient-rich bell peppers are red peppers. The reason is that they are the ones that have been attached to the vine for the longest time.

You might not know that green bell peppers are just the first stage. After that, they turn yellow, orange, and, lastly, red. This, as you might guess, also means that the red peppers are the most nutritious ones.

Is It Safe To Eat / Consume Bell Peppers?

Bell peppers deliver a low-calorie crunch with every bite, so it might sound weird that they have any downsides. But do they? Let’s find out if you should be careful when you have some medical condition that asks you to be cautious.

Pregnant And Breastfeeding Women

Like most other plants, Bell peppers are an excellent addition to a pregnant woman’s diet, but there is one thing to be cautious of. When you are still breastfeeding, eating a lot of capsicum or, in other words, peppers might turn your breastmilk spicy. I believe you wouldn’t like it if someone added extra spices to your food, right?

Children

Bell pepper is entirely safe for children, and you can introduce this plant to your baby once they are six months old, which is also when babies can start to eat solid foods. But as a heads up, when peppers are still raw, they possess a choking hazard for toddlers and babies. So remember to cut them into smaller pieces before giving them to your kid.

People With Allergies

If you experience respiratory problems, wheezing, headaches, or if your face and mouth start to swell, you might be allergic to peppers, to name a few of the symptoms.

So, suppose you notice that you’re allergic to peppers. In that case, I want to remind you that because peppers belong to the nightshade family, you could also have difficulties with other plants like eggplant, potato, and tomato.

People With Diabetes

People with diabetes always need to be careful and not eat foods that quickly raise their blood sugar levels. That’s why peppers are an excellent addition to your diet if you have diabetes. Why? Because they are full of vitamins, contain a lot of fiber, minerals and are also low on calories.

Pets

Thankfully, peppers are safe for your pets, and you can even give them to them as a healthy snack.

Featured image credit – © Tamela – stock.adobe.com

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