Peppers are warm-weather plants that belong to the vegetable family Solanaceae, along with eggplant, tomatoes and potatoes. They self-pollinate, enjoy full sun, and do not tolerate frost or cool, wet soil. Soil temperatures should reach 70°F, with night temperatures staying about 50°F, before planting peppers in the garden.
Pepper seeds take about 10 days to germinate. You can start them indoors six to eight weeks prior to transplanting them into the garden. However, most gardeners find it easier to purchase transplants from garden centers, like the one's shown below.
Left, pepper plants. Right, tomato plants.
Peppers need a well-drained soil that receives 8 to 10 hours of sun per day. Prepare your soil as you would for tomatoes, using some compost or other organic soil amendment if necessary.
When planting, space pepper plants 12-24 inches apart in the row, with rows about 3 feet apart. Mulch peppers with compost, straw or wood chips to prevent weeds from growing and to conserve water. Make sure mulch is kept off the stems. Water peppers with drip irrigation or soaker hoses when possible to keep the root zone moist. The root zone should be 6 inches deep. Consistent watering is critical for proper fruit set and development.
Peppers can also be grown in containers.