The pepper (Capsicum annuum) family includes both sweet and hot chilli peppers, with varying degrees of heat. Both are grown in the same way but chillis are less prone to attack from pests. Available in shades of green, red and yellow, depending on variety.
Soil Type: Well drained fertile soil with plenty of organic matter incorporated or good a quality compost.
Conditions: Full sun.
Ease of Cultivation: Easy
Type: Fruiting Vegetable.
Hardiness: Not hardy in the UK (protect from frost).
When to Sow: February to April (under cover).
Harvest Season: From July to first frosts.
Most pepper plants are tender, so are best suited to greenhouse cultivation. They can be grown outside in a sunny sheltered position but take longer to mature and yields will be lower.
Chilli peppers are smaller than sweet peppers and
come in a range of shapes and sizes. These plants provide
an abundance fruits, so just one or two plants should
provide more than enough for a family. Being more compact
and bushy the plants can look quite decorative. They
are ideal for a sunny patio or in the conservatory,
where they can actually be over wintered.
Use a top quality compost for the best growth and least problems.
Sow in trays or modules, under cover in a gentle
heat, from late February to April. Shade from strong
sun until seeds germinate. Pot on when large enough
to handle, eventually transplanting to growbags or
large pots. Once they reach 12 inches (30 cm) in height,
remove the growing tip to encourage bushier growth.
If you are planting outside, wait until all risk of frost is over around the end of May. Harden off the plants over a couple of weeks to acclimatise them to the outside.
Support with canes or strings to support the weight of fruit as it matures. Water regularly, not letting the soil dry out, particularly pot grown specimens.
Mist spray the flowers with water to encourage
the fruit to set. Once set, feed weekly with liquid
Susceptible to red spider mite and aphids.
Harvest as when the peppers are large enough for use, around 18 weeks after sowing. Initially green, they will change colour to red, yellow or orange, depending on variety. The colour does not affect the flavour.
Sweet peppers can be eaten raw in salads or cooked in stews and other dishes.>
For stuffed sweet peppers, remove the stalk and seeds and inner pith. Parboil for 10 minutes, drain and fill with a savoury meat or vegetable filling. Add a little stock to moisten and bake at 180°C (350 F, Gas mark 4) for 25-30 minutes.
The 'hotness' of chillies is due to the amount of capsaicin in the fruit. When preparing chilli peppers, wear gloves and wash your hands very thoroughly afterwards as the capsaicin can cause irritation.
Chilli peppers can be easily stored by tying in
open bunches and hanging them to dry.
Capsicum peppers are a good source of vitamins A, C and K.
Most varieties produce a good crop throughout summer if picked regularly.
Sweet Pepper 'Ace F1' (F1 Hybrid) is a vigorous, quick maturing, variety with large peppers that can be harvested green or allowed to mature to red. Performs well in cool climates. Available at Marshalls.
Sweet Pepper 'Astor' (F1 Hybrid) is a green-turning yellow, grilling pepper. A good greenhouse variety cropping throughout the summer. Can also be grown in a sheltered site outdoors. Available at Thompson & Morgan.
Sweet Pepper 'Bellrouge' is a heavy cropping variety, bearing thick flesh bell peppers that ripen to deep red. Available at Marshalls.
Sweet Pepper 'Black Knight' (F1 Hybrid) is an early fruiting, heavy-cropping pepper. Starts green turning an attractive deep purple as they ripen. Long fruits up to 10in (25cm). Available at Thompson & Morgan.
Sweet Pepper 'Boneta' is an early-flowering outdoor pepper. Ideal for a sunny patio or frost free border, producing large creamy-lime coloured fruits that ripen to red. Available at Thompson & Morgan.
Sweet Pepper 'Cabaneros' produces very large, thick skinned, fleshy fruits that grow up to 8in (20cm) in length. Available at Marshalls.
Sweet Pepper 'Californian Wonder' is a classic blocky green sweet pepper which turns red. Available at Thompson & Morgan.
Sweet Pepper 'Diablo' is an award winning, early fruiting, Ox-horn shaped (long tapering) pepper. Sweet, thick and crunchy. Available at Marshalls.
Sweet Pepper 'Etiuda' produces large, sweet red peppers, ideal for eating fresh or cooking. Harvest throughout summer. Available at Thompson & Morgan.
Sweet Pepper 'Friggitello' (F1 Hybrid) is a medium sized plant producing a heavy crop of conical, thin-skinned, mid green fruits. Available at Thompson & Morgan.
Sweet Pepper 'Gourmet' a compact variety that produces a large crop of bright orange, sweet and crunchy fruits. Early to ripen. Suitable for growing in a greenhouse or outdoors on a sunny patio. Harvest from July onwards. Height: 75cm (30). Spread: 50cm (20). Available at Van Meuwen. Available at Thompson & Morgan.
Sweet Pepper 'Green Bell Boy' a popular heavy cropping variety, ideal for general culinary use. Best harvested as a green pepper. Available at Thompson & Morgan.
Sweet Pepper Liberty Bell A compact plant producing an abundance of sweet flavoured bell peppers. A proven, long-lasting performer in the garden. Available at Gardening Direct.
Sweet Pepper 'Maccabi' can be grown outdoors or in the greenhouse. Producing good yields of glossy, red fruits with a sweet flavour. Available at Thompson & Morgan.
Sweet Pepper 'Mini Bell Mixed' a mix of colourful peppers that are sweet and crunchy to eat. Harvest from July until October. Height and spread: 35cm (14). Available at Van Meuwen.
Sweet Pepper 'Mohawk' (F1 Hybrid) a compact dwarf variety, ideal for growing in containers, in the greenhouse or on a sunny outdoor patio. Producing small, block-shaped, green fruits that ripen to a bright yellow. Available at Gardening Direct. Available at Thompson & Morgan.
Sweet Pepper 'New Ace' is a vigorous variety that offers early crops, and high yields. The thick-walled fruits ripen from dark green to bright red, but can be harvested at any stage. Available at Thompson & Morgan.
Sweet Pepper 'Peperone Panccho Piccante' early cropping, compact plants that produce green fruits which turn red. Crunchy texture and good flavour. Available at Thompson & Morgan.
Sweet Pepper Red Skin F1 Produces green fruit which turns bright red when ripe, juicy flavour. Available at Gardening Direct.
Sweet Pepper 'Rubens' a green fruited, Biscayne type turning bright red with long, broad shouldered slightly tapering fruits with thick flesh, ideal for grilling. Available at Thompson & Morgan.
Sweet Pepper 'Sweet Banana' produces distinctive banana-shaped fruits, that grow up to 6in (15cm) long. Has a very mild chilli flavour. Best grown in a greenhouse. Available at Thompson & Morgan.
Sweet Pepper 'Thor' (F1 Hybrid) produces long peppers up to 10in (25cm) in length. Starting green the peppers turn a bright red colour as they ripen. Available at Thompson & Morgan.
Sweet Pepper 'Yellow Bell' is tasty sweet pepper that ripens from dark green to a vibrant canary-yellow. Available at Thompson & Morgan.
Chilli Pepper 'Amboy' a tangy, medium hot variety that produces particularly large, tapering fruits, up to 6in (15cm) long. Ripening from pale green to deep red. Available at Thompson & Morgan.
Chilli Pepper 'Apache' (F1 Hybrid) produces heavy crops of bullet shaped, green fruits that gradually ripen to scarlet red, reaching up to 3in (7cm) long. Available at Thompson & Morgan.
Chilli Pepper 'Basket of Fire' (F1 Hybrid) ideal for hanging baskets or containers, providing and abundance of small hot chilies, which mature from deep purple through yellow and orange to a bright red. Good weather tolerance and will fruit outside well into the autumn and even longer under glass. Harvested peppers can easily be dried as well as used fresh. Scoville heat rating approx. 80000shu. Available at Marshalls. Available at Thompson & Morgan.
Chilli Pepper 'Big Bomb' (F1 Hybrid) early ripening, round dark green to red fruits. Mild pungency with some heat at base. Available at Thompson & Morgan.
Chilli Pepper 'Big Devil' (Hot) a compact variety that produces a large crop of long green and red peppers. A fiery hot pepper with a spicy flavour. Available at Thompson & Morgan.
Chilli Pepper Big Sun a very-hot pepper, with 3in (7cm) long, bright yellow fruit. Available at You Garden.
Chilli Pepper 'Cayenne' a well known upright variety producing high yields of slender, red peppers, to 6in (15cm) long with a slightly wrinkled appearance when fully ripe. Available at Thompson & Morgan.
Chilli Pepper 'Chenzo' a medium heat pepper with 3in (7cm) fruits, that start green turning to black before eventually going red. Neat, compact plants with arching branches. Available at Thompson & Morgan.
Chilli Pepper 'Cheyenne' a compact, bushy, early ripening Chilli, that produces masses of medium sized, hot green fruits that turn orange throughout the summer. Available at Thompson & Morgan.
Chilli Pepper 'Chocolate Habanero' (Atomic) a chocolate brown pepper that packs an extraordinary punch of up to 425,000 Scoville units per pepper, make it one of the hottest! Available at Thompson & Morgan.
Chilli Pepper 'Demon Red' (Very Hot) is a very dwarf form, ideal for a windowsill or patio container. Producing attractive fruits that start green then turn bright red, throughout the season. Grow indoors or outside in summer. Available at Thompson & Morgan.
Chilli Pepper Hot Banana a medium-hot pepper, with 6in (15cm) long, green-yellow fruit. Available at You Garden.
Chilli Pepper 'Hot Thai' is a compact bushy variety that bears an abundance of small very hot chillies. Available at Marshalls.
Chilli Pepper 'Lancer' is a neat compact plant ideal for patio culture or greenhouse. A good variety for drying. Available at Marshalls.
Chilli Pepper 'Longhorn' is a high yielding variety, producing very long, tasty red peppers. Available at Marshalls.
Chilli Pepper Thai Dragon a hot pepper, with 3in (7cm) long, green to bright red fruit. Available at You Garden.