Growing Colorful Bell Peppers

Bell peppers come in a wide assortment of colors, from green to red to orange. Find out what color can tell you about a pepper’s ripeness and nutritional value.
By Barbara Pleasant
April/May 2006
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The color change in ripening peppers is caused by the breakdown of chlorophyll, which coincides with the maturation of the seeds.

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Did you know that all baby peppers start out green, then change color as they mature? In fact, when you’re growing bell peppers, some stay green until they mature to yellow or red, while others may turn white, lilac or purple before maturing to red, yellow or orange.

You can eat peppers at whatever stage you prefer, but fully ripe peppers taste better and are more nutritious. Sugars and other flavor compounds accumulate during the final stages of ripening, and vitamin C content often doubles. The color change in ripening peppers is caused by the breakdown of chlorophyll, which coincides with the maturation of the seeds.

For example, ‘Sweet Banana’ peppers are a pale, yellowish-green when the fruits are immature, then they slowly change to yellow, then orange and finally red.

For early yields of colorful sweet peppers, it’s best to choose varieties that waste no time changing to their fully ripe color and flavor. Varieties that mature to red far outnumber those that mature to orange or yellow. The best fast-ripening red peppers to grow are ‘Gypsy,’ ‘Lipstick’ and ‘Ace.’

At the end of the season, peppers picked when they have just begun to change colors will continue to ripen indoors when kept in a warm place. For more on how to grow peppers, see About Peppers.

Post a comment below.


Brenda Zachery
8/2/2010 4:58:56 PM
This year is the first time that I planted a small garden. I planted red peppers, banana peppers, and tomatoes on my deck in pots, and had great success with them all. I want to now plant okra, sweet onions, white potatoes and sweet potatoes. Can I plant these items in August or September?

Ronald Tweedy
6/11/2009 9:18:45 AM
I have been growing tomatoes for years but this is my first year to groe bell peppers. I'm seeing many of the flowers just dropping off and not fruiting. I do have some peppers but I'm losing many flowers. What am I doing wrong? Mother Earth, I was a loyal fan of yours in the 80's when I lived out in the Pacific Northwest. As a matter of fact your helped me grow potatoes. What fun! I'm now back in the flock and recommend you to everyone I know. Keep up the great work!

5/28/2009 9:50:41 AM
Green peppers are prolific in the summertime and grow with hardly any effort. I started mine from seed in Feb., planted them in May, and my ducks ate ALL the plants. Have since fenced the garden and had to buy the plants, drats!

5/11/2009 11:00:51 PM
I just planted my first little pepper plant today. Its an orange bell pepper plant. I named it Capsa. Cant wait to see how it turns out.

12/10/2008 1:29:52 PM
Where can I purchase MINIATURE bell peppers?

T Smid
7/25/2007 12:00:00 AM
My red bell peepers never seem to turn red they always stay green. Is there a way for me to have them turn red?TSmidChicago Ill

4/12/2007 12:00:00 AM
I grew my first pepper plant last summer among the celery. It yielded over 8 peppers-and I dont eat them-but just like to grow them and give them away. Now I know they change color,so will leave them on the plant longer this time. Thanks!!

BRENDA Sessoms
5/16/2006 12:00:00 AM
Hi, this is the first time I have grown bell peppers so I really appreciate all this information. Thanks Brenda

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