There are thousands of varieties of peppers (Capsicum sp.); the best way to sample many kinds is to grow some yourself. From the mildest bell to the hottest habanero, the growing techniques are the same and not at all complicated. Native to Mexico and South America, peppers enjoy the long season and hot, sunny weather characteristic of these areas. They don't usually require staking or other maintenance aside from watering, weeding, and fertilizing.
For more growing tips on vegetable varieties, visit our Vegetable Growing Guide.
Habit: Upright and busy with strong stems. Varieties range from tiny miniature chiles to blocky bell peppers.
Days to Harvest: Can be harvested in as few as 55 days for green and immature, or up to 95 days for red and ripe.
When to Plant: For a head start, plant seeds indoors 6 weeks before the last frost. Peppers can be planted outdoors when frost is no longer a threat and the soil is reasonably warm.
Light: Full sun.
Soil: Moist, rich, and well drained.
Watering: Water regularly, but too much water will result in much milder hot peppers.
Fertilizing: Fertilize weekly.
Pest Problems: Aphids can be knocked off the plants with a strong stream of water from the hose; flea beetles will eat small holes in the leaves but won't bother fruit.
When to Harvest: May be harvested very young or allowed to fully mature, but some varieties are bred to be harvested at a certain ripeness. Check your seed packet for information.