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Home & garden.

Updated: 29 Apr 2022

How to grow sweet peppers and best varieties

Sweet peppers are a very popular veg for salads and stir fries. They do best in a greenhouse or polytunnel in the uk, but there are varieties that can be grown in a sunny spot outside
Ceri Thomas
Sweet peppers

Not the easiest veg to grow in the UK climate, but sweet peppers are definitely worth a go, especially if you have a greenhouse.

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How to grow sweet peppers: month by month




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Best sweet pepper varieties

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Best Buy snack-size peppers

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Yield from three plants: 2kg (125 fruits)
If you want a perfect pepper for lunchboxes, then this variety is ideal. It produced plenty of bright-orange, little peppers, most around 5cm long, which were sweet and tasty. The plants were short and compact, great for growing in pots. It wasn’t the earliest to ripen, but we still got about 14 ripe fruits from each plant by the end of September and plenty more ripening. It has an RHS AGM (Award of Garden Merit) as well.

How we test sweet peppers

We sowed the seeds of 10 varieties of sweet peppers in a greenhouse in March at our trial site in the Cotswolds. We used modular trays, filled with a Best Buy compost for sowing seeds. When large enough, they were planted into 7.5L pots. We used a Best Buy compost for containers and mixed in Best Buy controlled release fertiliser. The plants were put in a polytunnel and watered when needed. They were given an extra boost of liquid tomato feed when the flowers formed. The crop was counted and weighed until the end of September and tasted for flavour.

When to sow

In mid-February to March, sow individual seeds in 7cm pots of a Best Buy compost for sowing seeds. Put them in a heated propagator, or cover and stand them on a sunny windowsill.

They need to be kept at 20ºC and germination takes around seven to 21 days. Grow the seedlings on in good light, and make sure that the temperature doesn’t drop below 14ºC at night.

Caring for your plants


When the roots are showing at the bottom of the pots, move into 2L pots and, after another month, into 7L pots of a Best Buy compost for containers that you’ve added some Best Buy controlled-release fertiliser to, or into a growing bag. Transfer to a sunny, sheltered spot outdoors once the danger of frost has passed – in late May or early June if you’re growing outside.

Watering and feeding

Keep the compost moist, but not wet; peppers don’t mind being a little dry. When flowers appear, use a high-potash tomato feed weekly.

How and when to harvest

Harvest in: September

Allow fruits to ripen fully – most turn bright red or orange when they’re ready to eat, but others change to yellow.

Common growing problems


Aphids sometimes attack the plants by sucking the sap. Remove any you find by hand.

Read more about aphids.

Blossom end rot

This is a physiological problem that causes dark, leathery patches at the blossom end of the fruits. The immediate cause is a shortage of calcium in the developing fruit. The usual reason for this is erratic and/or inadequate watering, plus high temperatures.

Read more about blossom end rot.