University of Maryland Extension

Peppers

Author: 
Text by Lewis Shell, photo by Ellen Nibali

Capsicum annuum

What popular vegetable is really a fruit...comes in almost every color of the rainbow...was given its erroneous name by Christopher Columbus...the most popular variety of which contains none of the chemical for which the species is famous...is planted in almost every kitchen garden in America...originated south of our border, was taken to Europe, brought back to North America and yet China is the world's greatest producer?  If you said 'pepper', you are correct!

The sweet 'Bell Pepper' needs well-drained but consistently moist soil.  While they require lots of sun for flower/fruit development, they will not produce well with extreme hot temperatures for extended periods. Try to provide some afternoon shade. During heat waves, cool them with a mist of water.  When flowers begin to develop, side dress with a balanced fertilizer. Pinch off the earliest flowers to encourage more fruit production.  Sweet peppers will be sweeter if allowed to ripen to red. Hot peppers can be harvested green or allowed to ripen and change color.  

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