How to Grow Capsicums

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The Capsicum name refers to both sweet and hot peppers. They have been used in cooking from Asia to South America to Italy. Their flavors range from the common sweet green bell pepper to super-spicy habeñero chilis. Capsicums have been used in folk medicine for years, and scientists are currently researching possibilities for its use in pain relief. Peppers are a great choice for the home gardener because of their low maintenance and easy growth habit. In fact, peppers are closely related to tomatoes and share many of their characteristics.

Things You'll Need

  • Pepper plants
  • Water
  • Fertilizer
  • Insecticidal soap
  • Other pest control methods such as ladybugs (optional)
  • Choose a full-sun area for your garden. Aim for an area that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight.

  • Prepare the soil by adding compost and fertilizer. Cultivate now and lightly throughout the season to discourage weeds.

  • Plant your capsicums in spring, once all danger of frost is over. Planting peppers too early will slow their growth. You can either grow capsicums from seed or buy the plants from a gardening store.

  • Water regularly. Sweet peppers do best with plentiful and regular watering. The intensity of hot peppers can be controlled to some extent with water. The less water, the hotter the pepper.

  • Change to a low-nitrogen fertilizer as the season progresses. Your pepper plants will need phosphorus and potassium (the second and third numbers on a bag of fertilizer), which encourage roots and blossoms, but not nitrogen (the first number on the bag) which encourages green growth.

  • Control pests such as aphids with insecticidal soap and by introducing beneficial ladybugs to your garden. Caterpillars can be controlled with the use of DiPel, which contains a naturally occurring bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis.

  • Harvest regularly to encourage new blossoms.

Tips & Warnings

  • All sweet bell peppers start as green peppers. You can either harvest at the green stage or wait until they develop their true colors as red, yellow, orange, or purple peppers.
  • Sweet and hot peppers will interbreed if they are within a few feet. This is not a problem for the peppers from the current year's harvest, but it can cause problems for the next year if you save seeds. Your mellow yellow peppers could contain a habañero surprise.

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