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Pepper Varieties: Best Bets and Easy-to-Grow

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Peppers varieties demand warm growing temperatures.
All pepper varieties demand warm growing temperatures, full sun, and moist and well-drained soil.

Peppers demand a warm location from start to finish. For peppers to prosper: sow pepper seed in a warm seed bed and transplant seedlings into a warm planting bed where the air temperature will remain consistently warm until harvest. Cool weather and soil are a pepper’s greatest challenge.

Here are best bet, easy-to-grow peppers, both easy eating sweet bell peppers and hot hot peppers.

Best tips How to Grow Peppers.

Keep reading to the bottom of this post and I will give you my tips for sure-fired pepper growing success.

Sweet Bell Pepper Varieties:

• Bell Boy. 70 days. Meaty, sweet pepper. Large, blocky fruit, 4½ inches square; thick walled, mostly 4 lobed; fruits turn from green to red. Sturdy compact plant Early yields. All-American selection; resistant to most diseases. Hybrid

• California Wonder. 68-89 days. Tender, juicy sweet with no hint of pungency. Smooth, blocky, 3 to 4 lobed fruit with glossy, 4½ inches long by 4 inches in diameter, dark-green skin; thick walled to ⅜ inches; ripens to bright crimson. Vigorous, upright plant 24 to 30 inches tall. Good leaf cover. Tobacco mosaic virus resistant. Open-pollinated

• Corno di Toro (also called Yellow Bull’s Horn). 68-70 days. Spicy flavor, neither hot not very sweet. Fruit 8 inches long, 1½ inches in diameter at the shoulder; tapered to a curved point, resembling the horn of a bull. Ripens to a deep golden yellow or deep red depending upon cultivar. Traditional Italian favorite. Open-pollinated.

• Early Pimento. 60 days. Heart-shaped fruit turns from green to red. Use fresh or for pickling or canning. Heavy early yields. Good choice fro home garden. All-America Selection; resistant to most diseases. Hybrid

• Golden Bell. 70 days. Very sweet. Medium-large blocky 3 to 4 lobed fruit; light green turning bright yellow-gold at maturity; thick walled. Vigorous upright plant to 21 inches tall. Leaves provide good cover for fruit. Adapted mainly for home garden use. Hybrid.

• Golden Summer Hybrid. 70 days. Juicy sweet; great overall flavor. Large blocky 3 to 4 lobed fruit; pale lime-green ripening to golden yellow; thick walled. Does not ripen yellow in short season areas. Upright plant 24 to 28 inches tall. Good fruit set; wide adaptability. Tobacco mosaic virus resistant. Hybrid.

• Gypsy. 65 days. Sweet, tender, crisp; excellent flavor and quality. Wedge-shaped, slightly curved fruit 3 to 4 inches long; yellow, ripening to orange-red; medium thin walls. Vigorous spreading plant, 12 to 20 inches tall. Widely adapted. All-America Selection. Tobacco mosaic virus resistant. Hybrid.

• Jupiter. 66-72 days. Sweet. Large, blocky 4 lobed fruit; 4½ inches tall by 4½ inches wide; green turning bright red when ripe; thick-walled. Vigorous high yield widely adapted plan to 30 inches tall; dense canopy of leaves provides fruit protection from sunburn. Tobacco mosaic virus resistant. One of best open-pollinated cultivars.

• Keystone Resistant Giant. 72-80 days. Sweet and mild. Large blocky mostly 4 lobed fruit 4½ inches long 3¾ inches in diameter; attractive thick, dark-green skin, turning dark red when ripe; thick walled. High yielding plant; ever-bearing, 30 to 38 inches tall with large dark-green leaves. Performs well in short summer regions. Tobacco mosaic virus resistant. Open-pollinated.

• Nardello. 65-75 days. Extremely sweet smoky-flavored Italian frying pepper. Slender, tapered 7 to 8 inches long, 1 inch wide; green turning red when ripe; thin-walled. Excellent for frying or eating raw, also freezing and drying. Medium-tall, heavy yielding plant. Open-pollinated.

• Sweet Banana. 70 days. Sweet and mild. Cylindrical fruit, tapering to a point, 6 inches long, 1½ inches in diameter; waxy yellow, turning red when ripe; medium thick-walled. Compact, sturdy plants18 to 22 inches tall; produces an abundance of fruit over a long period. All purpose use. All-America Selection; resists most diseases. Open-pollinated.

• Sweet Yellow or Cubanelle. 62-70 days. Sweet to spicy-flavored frying pepper. Tapering fruit with blunt end, 5 to 6 inches long, 2 to 2½ inches across, 2 to 3 lobed; yellow-green turning red-orange skin when ripe, medium thick wall. Bushy 28 to 30 inch tall plant. Heavy yield setting fruit continuously. Open-pollinated.

• Yolo Wonder. 70-80 days. Thick, juicy sweet; improved California Wonder. Blocky 3 to 4 lobed fruit, 5 inches long by 4½ inches in diameter; attractive green, ripening to red skin. Bushy plant, 24 to 28 inches tall and spreading. Leaves offer fruit good protection from sunscald and hail. Tolerant of adverse weather conditions. Tobacco mosaic virus resistant. Open-pollinated.

Hot Pepper Varieties:

• Anaheim. 70-90 days. Medium-hot chili. Tapered to a point fruit, 7 to 8 inches long, 1½ inches wide; fruit light to dark green turning crimson red when ripe; medium thick walled. Use for stuffing when red ripe, also for canning, drying, and frying. Vigorous upright plant, 28 to 30 inches tall. Widely grown in California and Southwest.

• Anaheim TMR 23. 74-80 days. Moderately hot. Fruit is tapered, 7 to 8 inches long, 2 inches wide; deep-green maturing to red. Freeze, dry, or can. Late-maturing variety; sturdy erect 24 to 34 inches tall; planted extensively in the South, California, and Mexico. Tobacco mosaic virus resistant. Hybrid.

• Cayenne Long Slim. 70-75 days. Very hot. Slender fruit, tapered to a point, often wrinkled, 6 to 7 inches long, ½ inch wide; dark green ripening to bright red. Excellent for drying, pickles, and canning. Vigorous, high-yielding plant; 20 to 24 inches tall. Well-known, popular variety. Open-pollinated.

• Hungarian Yellow Wax. 58-85 days. Medium hot. Uniform, slightly tapered fruit 6 to 7 inches long, 1½ inches in diameter; waxy yellow turning red at maturity; firm, medium-thick walled. Upright plant 16 to 24 inches tall. Sets fruit continuously. Grows well in cool regions. Good for pickling and canning. Open-pollinated.

• Jalapeño. 65-80 days. Very hot. Sausage-shaped fruit tapering to a blunt end, about 3 inches long and 1 to 1½ inches in diameter; fruit is glossy deep-green turning bright red when ripe; medium thick wall. Common and popular variety widely used in Mexican and Southwestern cuisine. Dark-green plant is 26 to 26 inches tall; leaves provide good fruit cover. Very productive. Open-pollinated.

• Serrano Chili Pepper. 75-90 days. Very hot; Tabasco-type pepper. Slender, cylindrical fruit tapering to a blunt point, 2¼ inches long, ½ inch in diameter; medium dark-green ripening to bright red; medium thin walls. Vigorous, highly productive plant, 30 to 36 inches tall. Use for pickling or sauce. Popular in Mexico and Southwest. Open-pollinated.

• Tam Mild Jalapeño. 67-73 days. Mild heat with jalapeno flavor and aroma. Compact dark-green plant, 24 to 30 inches tall. Excellent producer. Good for eating raw, roasted, pickling. Potato virus Y resistant. Hybrid.

Pepper success growing tips:

Strong start. Sow pepper seeds indoors 8 to 12 weeks before setting them in the garden. Peppers need a very warm start to life, 80°F soil temperature for germination and 80°F daytime temperature and 75°F nighttime temperature for growing on to transplant size. Keep seedlings evenly moist with lukewarm water in the early stages of growth.

Planting. Transplant peppers to the garden when all danger of frost is well past and the soil has warmed to at least 65°F and nighttime air temperatures do not dip below 50°F. Use black plastic to prewarm the soil before transplanting. Plant peppers in full sun in well-drained soil–raised beds are best. Add aged compost and a sprinkle of bonemeal to each planting hole. In short or cool season regions, grow quick-maturing varieties or varieties adapted to cool temperatures.

Care. Keep peppers evenly moist but don’t overwater. As the peppers ripen, cut back on watering to enhance flavor. Side dress peppers with aged compost during the growing season. Support peppers with stakes or cages so that they do not lean or snap as the fruit matures. Each fruit should be shaded by leaves above to avoid sunburn. If temperatures threaten to dip below 55°F, have row covers ready to protect plants and fruits.

Too much heat. Peppers do not do well when air temperatures exceed 90°F; blossoms will drop and fruit may be sunburned. Protect peppers with shade cloth or plan ahead and plant them between rows of taller tomatoes or pole beans. Add organic mulch to keep the soil from overheating.

Harvest. Sweet bell peppers can be harvested when fruits begin to turn color; you can allow them to complete ripening on the kitchen counter. Picking peppers will encourage more fruit to set. Hot peppers can be harvested as you need them. Complete the pepper harvest before the first frost in autumn.


Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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