Bell Peppers Growing Stages (with Pictures): Plant Life Cycle & Timeline

Bell Peppers Plant in Garden

Bell peppers are a popular vegetable crop in the United States. They are available year-round, but peak production occurs during late summer and early fall. 

Bell peppers grow naturally into a bush-like plant with one main stem. Most bell peppers are grown in fields as annuals. 

They come in different colors, sizes, and shapes. There are many different types of bell peppers. The most common bell pepper is green, but they can also be red, yellow, or orange. Bell peppers are a good source of vitamin C and other nutrients.

Bell peppers grow from seeds to mature plants. They have five growth stages: germination, vegetative growth, flowering & pollination, fruiting, and plant death.

In this article, we will explore each stage life cycle of o bell peppers plant growth. We also talk about the planting aspect of this variety. 

bell peppers pruned and trained to climb
These bell pepper plants are being pruned and trained to climb the twine in a greenhouse. Grown like this a plant will have main stems that regularly grow to over 10′ tall.

Bell Peppers Grown in Greenhouses

A gardener can keep a bell pepper plant alive for 5+ years, and it can form into a strong woody plant. Grown in greenhouses, bell pepper plants are run up twine supports and look like vining plants.

Peppers grown in greenhouses total about 25% of pepper production in the US but that number is increasing every year, according to A.C. Nielsen data.

Bell peppers grown in greenhouses are pruned regularly, about every two weeks, to promote balanced growth, avoid disease, and ensure maximum yields. They are topped once and have two main branches per plant, known as the (“V” System), and those branches are trained up lengths of twine.

Most bell peppers are started indoors and then transplanted as seedlings into the field. Typically, fields are lined with rows of black plastic that raise soil temperatures and prevent weeds from growing nearby. Pruning and staking increase labor costs and are not always done. The same with drip irrigation lines. Different farmers employ different methods.

Bell pepper fields are harvested by hand once a week for four to six weeks. Then they are packed in bins and shipped to a cool storage area before being graded and distributed. Peppers are graded by size, color, and visible defects.

Do Bell Peppers Grow on Vines or Trees?

Bell peppers grow naturally as bush-like plants. In greenhouses employing the “V” system they definitely look like they are vine plants and are regularly trained up twine over 10 feet tall. This is the result of regular pruning to keep an orderly and productive greenhouse and is not the way a pepper plant normally grows.

Bell peppers do not grow on trees but are perennial plants that if grown in areas without frost or brought indoors to overwinter can live for 5+ years. In that time, they certainly can become what looks like a small tree. 

Constant pruning to keep a certain height and width redirects growth back into the branches and stems, and they continue to grow and thicken into a stout plant with more woody branches than herbaceous.

Bell Pepper Plant Life Cycle

Like many other plants, bell peppers are a type of vegetable that grows on a vine. The bell pepper plant starts out as a seed in the ground. Once the bell pepper plant grows, it will need water and sunlight. The bell pepper plant will produce flowers, which will create a fruit on the plant. The bell pepper plant will eventually die and be removed from the garden.

Below are details of the bell peppers plant growth stages life cycle:

Germination – Bell peppers are tropical plants that love the heat. Seeds will germinate with soil temperatures above 60 degrees but do best with warm soil temperatures from 70-95 degrees. 

Bell pepper seeds germinate slowly around 7-10 days but can take up to 4 weeks. Like other seeds, bell peppers will germinate faster with warmer soil temperatures and slower with cold.

Vegetative Growth – Because they are a warm-weather plant, starting bell peppers as easy indoor plants is a good idea to get a head start on the season. Try to use compostable starter pots that can be planted directly into the ground to avoid shock during transplanting.

Keep the bell peppers indoors until nighttime temperatures remain above 55 degrees. If your pepper plant starts to produce flowers soon after transplanting, pick the flowers off of the plant. 

The bell pepper plant will yield more at the end of the season if it has more vegetative growth during this period. After four weeks of being transplanted, the plant will start flowering. Let the flowers be.

Flowering & Pollination – Bell pepper plants are known as self-pollinating plants. They have “bisexual” or “perfect” flowers that have both male and female parts in the same flower. 

Even though they are self-pollinating, they still cross-pollinate as well. The wind or insects traveling from flower to flower will carry pollen from one plant to another.

If you’re growing hot and sweet peppers, then they can cross-pollinate. Cross-pollination between peppers will not affect the current year’s produce, so it will not make your sweet peppers hot or vice versa.

The seeds of the cross-pollinated pepper will have a blend of genetics from the two species of peppers. If you want the seeds from your bell peppers for next year, then you may consider preventing cross-pollination.  The best way to do it is by putting bags over the blooms of the earlier arriving species or to plant different varieties 300 or so yards away with physical barriers in between the two.

If you’re growing peppers where they are shielded from the wind, the plants may need some help to pollinate successfully. Just shaking the branches of the pepper plants regularly while flowering should do the trick, but to do a thorough job, break out a paintbrush and swirl it around each flower.

Fruiting – Fruits start off small and green in most varieties. As fruits continue to mature they get bigger and most varieties as they mature will turn yellow, orange, or red. As they turn, varieties can be two-toned and partially mixed hues.

The pepper will continue to ripen and if unpicked the stem will weaken and the fruit will fall to the ground. Eventually, the fruit will rot, and the pepper seeds inside will find their way into the soil to become new pepper plants.

Plant Death – A pepper plant can live 2-5+ years if overwintered indoors and kept from the frost, but sooner or later the party must end. If not overwintered in most US climates, this warm weather plant will meet its demise with the first frost and the root system taken out with the first hard frost.

Where do Bell Peppers grow?

China is the #1 producer of green bell peppers followed by Mexico, Turkey, Indonesia, and the United States. In the US, the top producers of bell peppers are California, Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, Ohio, North Carolina, and Michigan.

Bell peppers are available all year round from greenhouse production but supply increases in the summer, making the peppers cheaper during that time.

California’s bell pepper production runs from April to December, with peak volume from May to July. Florida’s bell pepper production goes from October through July, with peak volume between March and April.

How Deep Do Bell Pepper Roots Grow?

Bell pepper roots are shallow to medium depth, growing about 8-18″ deep and about as wide. Bell peppers started indoors in pots will have about 4-inch deep roots when transplanted and will usually grow deeper than bell peppers started from seed. If you’re growing them in a pot, you want it to be at least 12 inches deep.

Water bell peppers with 1″ of water a week during vegetative growth. Once flowering starts, through the time bell peppers start to reach their full-size, water with 2″ of water a week.

Once fruits reach near their full size, back off the water to 1″ a week again. You want to include rainfall in these measurements. Use a rain gauge to get an accurate idea of rainfall and if you use a sprinkler figure out how much water fills the gauge in 15 or 30 minutes.

Comment below with any thoughts or experiences with how bell peppers grow.

How Tall Do Bell Pepper Plants Grow?

Bell pepper plants belong to the species Capsicum Annuum but are actually perennials that when kept safe from frost by overwintering indoors will grow peppers for anywhere from 2-5+ years.

Most people grow bell peppers as annuals by planting them every year. Bell peppers that have grown for multiple years will be bigger than pepper plants that are grown for a single year. Bell pepper plants grown as annuals can have a large difference in size depending on whether the plant was started indoors.

Bell peppers grown in one season will reach between 18-36 inches tall and 12-24 inches wide. Most bell pepper varieties overwintered with supplemental lighting can reach 4-6 feet tall and 4-6 feet wide by the next growing season. Greenhouses employ a “V” system where bell peppers are trained up two lengths of twine and regularly reach thirteen feet tall.

Here you can see the height that the greenhouse workers have set these bell peppers up to reach. This looks like more twines per plant than the “V” system. In the “V” system, plants are topped to get two main stems and regular pruning keeps all growth going to those two main stems that are run up two pieces of twine per plant.

When overwintering bell pepper plants indoors without supplemental lighting, the plant should enter a dormant state. In this state, the bell pepper plant will not continue to grow or produce fruit. It will simply survive.

When the next season approaches, break the bell pepper plants out of dormancy by watering, fertilizing, and exposing them to more light. If you see new growth in a month or so, you’ve successfully overwintered your bell pepper plant. The pepper plants’ second season should see them double in size from the first year and be 2-3x more productive.

Final Thought

In conclusion, bell peppers are versatile vegetables that can be grown all year round in many climates. Bell peppers grow best in the summer because they can soak up the sun and enjoy the dry weather.

They grow through several stages, and their life cycle is completed when they are harvested. By understanding the growth stages and life cycle of bell peppers, gardeners can better care for their plants and ensure a successful harvest.

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