Days To Maturity
Every seed packet will have a ‘days to maturity’ number listed. This is the approximate time it takes for the plant to reach a fully fruiting stage from a sprout. Here are some popular pepper varieties:
- California Wonder Bell Pepper: 75 Days to maturity, large heirloom
- Yellow Banana Pepper: 85 Days to maturity, sweet, good pickler, heirloom
- Anaheim Chili: 80 Days to maturity, hot pepper good for roasting.
- Ghost Chili: 120 Days to maturity, worlds hottest pepper, hybrid
This number is great to use when figuring out when to plant and what to plant. It doesn’t tell you how long the plant will fruit for or include germination times. Pepper seeds germinated at an excessively low temperature may take weeks to sprout.
Once a pepper plant begins to fruit, it will continue to fruit until the end of the season. The goal is to get your plant to a mature stage as early as possible to get the most harvest.
In USDA zones 8 and below, gardeners will benefit from starting pepper seeds indoors. This gives them a headstart on an already short growing season. Plant pepper seeds indoors 8-12 weeks before the last frost date in your region. By the time peppers can sprout outdoors, your plants will be weeks old.
Ideal germination of pepper seeds takes about 7 days. Soak pepper seeds for 2-8 hours before planting to speed up germination. Keep the seeds at temperatures around 80°F (26°C) in a climate controlled room or through bottom heat.
Green vs. Red Peppers
Peppers of all types can be picked and eaten as soon as they appear. If allowed to mature on the plant, they will turn the familiar shades of yellow, orange, and red. Green bell peppers, for instance, will be ready to pick sooner than red bell peppers.
This is because they are the same pepper, the red ones have just been allowed to mature longer. It’s the same with green and red chili peppers, green chilis are just harvested earlier than red chilis. Red jalapenos are simply more mature jalapenos.
There are impediments that can keep a pepper from maturing on time. If they become rootbound in a seedling pot and are not transplanted in time they may stunt. Stunted plants are alive but growth is slow if not stopped. Temperature and water extremes can also lead to stunting.