Grow red bell peppers

Pepper tree

Pepper tree, (Schinus molle), also called California pepper tree, Peruvian pepper tree, or Peruvian mastic, ornamental tree of the cashew family (Anacardiaceae), native to dry South America and cultivated in warm regions. Its piquant fruits, often called “pink peppercorns,” are sometimes used in beverages and medicines because of their hot taste and aroma, though the plant is unrelated to true black pepper (Piper nigrum), the fruits of which are ground into a widely used spice. The pepper tree is a host plant for scale insects that damage orange trees and is controlled in susceptible agricultural areas. It is considered an invasive species in Australia and certain other areas outside its native range.

Pepper trees are long-lived and quick-growing and can reach some 15 metres (50 feet) in height. The plant has a wide canopy, and young branches are typically weeping. The long compound leaves have storage cells that contain a volatile oil and emit a peppery fragrance when broken. The small white flowers are borne in clusters at the ends of the branches. Each small pink fruit has a hard dry kernel surrounding a single seed.

California Pepper Tree Care: How To Grow A California Pepper Tree

The California pepper tree (Schinus molle) is a shade tree with pretty, somewhat pendulous branches and an attractive, exfoliating trunk. Its feathery foliage and bright pink berries make this a fine ornamental for water-sparing gardens in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 11. If you want to know how to grow a California pepper tree, read on.

What is a California Pepper Tree?

If you don’t live in southern California where these trees have naturalized, you may ask: “What is a California pepper tree?” For those looking for a fast-growing evergreen shade tree for a Mediterranean style garden, the California pepper tree might be the perfect choice. It shoots up rapidly to it mature height, usually about 40 feet, and often grows branches as wide as wide as the tree is tall.

California pepper trees look lacy because of the compound, pinnate leaves, each one composed of fine-textured leaflets. The leaves are aromatic, up to 12 inches long, while

each leaflet grows to about 2 ½ inches. Greenish-white flowers appear at the ends of the branches in spring, evolving by autumn into rosy berries that look like salmon eggs.

When these evergreens are young, their trunks are gray. As the trees mature, their bark peels back revealing the red inner wood.

Growing California Pepper Trees

If you want to start growing California pepper trees, first be sure you have enough room in your backyard for the tree to spread to its full mature size. You’ll need a spot in direct sun with well-drained soil. California pepper tree care is increased significantly if you choose a planting site with poorly draining soil, since root rot pathogens are likely to attack the tree.

Give your newly planted pepper trees regular irrigation until they establish extensive root systems. After that, the trees only require occasional irrigation and California pepper tree care is reduced. This makes them ideal trees for xeriscaping. In fact, overwatering this tree can lead to chlorosis as well as the production of weak branches.

Apply a general purpose fertilizer in springtime just before new growth appears. This assists the tree to grow rapidly.

How to Grow a California Pepper Tree

A California pepper tree is easy to grow if you buy a container tree with a sturdy trunk. You can also grow this tree from seed, but it isn’t an easy process.

Pruning a California pepper tree is necessary if you want a healthy, attractive tree. The weeping habit makes the tree’s canopy seem low to the ground. Prune it every winter to keep the canopy higher. You’ll also need to keep an eye out for suckers that sprout from the tree base. These should be pruned out whenever they appear.

How to Grow Red Peppers

Another early red pepper that Johnston likes is ‘Round of Hungary.’ “It’s not large,” he admits, “but it is distinctive-looking, with smooth ribs and a bright red like there’s a light inside.” Fully red about 75 days after transplanting, ‘Round of Hungary’ has great market potential, Johnston says. “Something this good should always bring more money than ordinary bell peppers.” He also loves ‘Lipstick,’ a pimento-type pepper that is fully red at 73 days. “Both ‘Round of Hungary’ and ‘Lipstick’ are very sweet and tops in taste,” he says.

Another big fan of ‘Lipstick’ is Tom Denison, a Corvallis, Oregon, market grower who devotes more than an acre of his fields solely to peppers. “‘Lipstick’ is an absolutely delicious pepper that is thick-walled, very early and open pollinated,” he says. “I can get untreated seed, too, from Johnny’s, which is important, because I am an organic grower.” Denison finds that his customers — from farmer’s markets to the local food co-op — prefer thick-walled peppers. He doesn’t grow Ace,’ which has relatively thin walls, for that reason. “In 1978, when we started bringing red peppers to farmer’s markets, we gave away samples to get people to buy,” says benison. “They had never seen them, and we had to convince them that these red peppers were not hot.” Since then, although regular red peppers are ubiquitous, benison’s special, sweeter and organically grown varieties still are preferred by his customers.

Fast to Grow Red Bell Pepper Varieties

Once you know the right varieties to grow, the key to getting lots of sweet red peppers is to 1) give them an early start indoors; 2) warm up the ground before you plant them outside; and 3) never give them any reason to stop growing. Start pepper seeds indoors at least eight to 10 weeks before nights remain above 50 degrees. If your indoor growing space is on the cool side (in a basement or other unheated room), start seeds two or three weeks sooner. “The idea is to have a transplant with some buds on it at planting time, but no open flowers,” says Johnston. Harden off transplants for at least a week by leaving them outside for increasing amounts of time each day. “And, if you water them with a high-phosphorous fertilizer solution (compost or alfalfa-meal tea) at planting,” he says, “they won’t miss a beat and will set peppers rapidly.”

When nighttime air temperatures stay above 50 degrees, peppers can he transplanted. At soil temperatures above 65 degrees, pepper growth accelerates. Plants may become stunted and never recover if either the soil or air temperature is much below 55 degrees. To combat cool ground, cover your beds with plastic mulch as early in the spring as possible. (Clear plastic warms the soil more quickly, but black plastic controls weeds better.) Once the soil has warmed, remove the plastic or cover it with grass clippings or other mulch to prevent the plastic-covered soil from becoming too warm.

Another trick, recommended by MOTHER’S Almanac contributor and retired Texas extension agent Bill Adams, is to place wire cages around each pepper transplant, wrapping the cages with clear plastic. These mini-greenhouses trap heat and act as a physical barrier to fungal diseases. After the weather heats up, remove the plastic around cages or the plants will get too hot.

If your summers get really sultry, your peppers will appreciate a heavy mulch after the spring season. Several inches of straw or dried grass clippings will keep the soil cooler and reduce moisture evaporation. Continually moist ground is a necessity for peppers, as they suffer from blossom end rot, a physiological disease caused by a calcium deficiency. Most soils contain ample calcium, but the mineral relies on water to transport it to the plant’s root system. When the soil lacks moisture, the calcium can’t reach the plants and a tell-tale black leathery spot forms on the blossom end of developing fruit.

Big, sweet peppers require a continual source of nutrition. The easiest way to fertilize them is to incorporate gradual-release fertilizer in the ground at planting. Fish-meal pellets, alfalfa pellets or cottonseed meal are all good organic choices. You also can foliar-feed plants every week or two with a fish/seaweed soluble fertilizer, spraying the tops and bottoms of leaves, or water the ground with the same mixture.

Peppers need a good supply of magnesium, which may be deficient in some soils. If a soil test or your extension agent recommends magnesium, scratch a tablespoon of Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) around the base of each pepper plant when they start flowering, or mix a tablespoon of salts per quart of warm water and foliar-feed them.


Red Bell Pepper Seed Sources

Harris Seeds
‘Blushing Beauty,’ ‘Flamingo,’ Jingle Bells,’ ‘La Bamba,’ ‘Lady Bell’

Stokes Seeds
‘Bell Boy,’ ‘King Arthur,’ ‘Merlin’

Johnny’s Selected Seeds
‘Ace,’ Jingle Bells,’ ‘Lipstick,’ ‘Red Knight,’ ‘Round of Hungary,’ ‘Islander’

Is a Red Pepper a fruit or vegetable?

Botanically any kind of pepper is a fruit. When we look at parts of a plant the pepper is the mature ovary of a flower, which make it a fruit. The reason they are considered a vegetable in the grocery store is due to how imported vegetables were taxed. In 1893 the Supreme Court made the decision on the classification of what we now know as vegetables and fruit. How this came to be was they classified our fruits and vegetables by when we would eat them. For taxing purposes in 1893 fruit did not have a tax applied to them, but all imported vegetables did. This is how they classified fruits and vegetable; fruit was considered to be anything that was eaten after a meal as dessert and vegetables where anything that could be eaten during the meal. So that is why today many people consider pepper, tomatoes and many other garden crops to be vegetables when in the botanical sense they are actually fruit. So next time you are in the garden or in the grocery store, look at whats in the produce section. Any items that are a result of a flower (i.e. peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, melons, etc) are actually fruit and anything that is parts of a plant (i.e. carrots are roots, lettuce are leave, etc.) are vegetables.
I hope this helps. I know it is probably more than you were expecting, but know you can share this with friends and family when they ask.

Are Chilies Fruits or Vegetables?

Defined by its pungency, coming in many shapes and varieties, the chili pepper holds its secrets close to its heart. For example, how to categorize it? Are chilies fruits or vegetables?

It is not on the food pyramid, but looking at what is, it seems, at first, clear where the chili pepper lies. It definitely is nothing like a sweet, pulpy banana, or a juicy, tart orange, nor as easy to eat as a plump pear.

For one thing, chili peppers aren’t sweet! Sure, sometime a bell pepper can have a tiny bit of sweetness, but that’s the exception, not the rule. The other well-known chilies – jalapenos, serranos, poblanos – are known for another characteristic.


Vegetable seems a better fit. Spinach and broccoli are (mostly) the same color, while garlic and onions also add flavor to food. At least in appearance, chili peppers = vegetable. But something doesn’t seem quite right.

In fact, its quite easy to determine the truth. Chilies, with their internal, edible seeds, are most definitely a fruit. Along with tomatoes, zucchini, okra, and eggplant, they are the most common fruits-eaten-like vegetables. Other veggie-like fruits include, basically, anything not sweet, with seeds, that needs to be consumed to be propagated. Vegetables, on the other hand, are the edible parts of plants, often (but not always) lacking seeds.

Chilies straddle the border, a fruit technically, a vegetable in our salads and curries. Perhaps some of the confusion comes from the fact that, well, chili peppers don’t want to be eaten by us. That’s why they produce capaicum, the chemical substance that is felt by our tongues as pungent spiciness. Their intended targets are birds, who cannot taste capaicum and thus transported chili peppers seeds far and wide in South America (but not as far and wide as us)

All mammals, in fact, stay away from chilies, with once important exception.


Another definite fruit characteristic is that, despite the presence of capaicum, chilies are in fact incredibly healthy. They have more Vitamin C than oranges, more Vitamin A than tomatoes, and are significant sources of Magnesium, Iron, and Thiamine.

There’s only one problem. We rarely consume enough chili pepper, especially the healthier, spicier varieties to get much benefit, though I am sure there are some of you there who could contest that fact.

So pile on that chili powder, hot sauce, or gochujang. While it may not be as sweet as the other fruits we’ve come to love, that doesn’t mean the chili pepper is any less delicious.

Getting in your daily recommended serving of fruits and veggies can be tough as a college student. Things get even more confusing when you realize that the foods you thought were veggies are actually fruits.

This sounds gross, but fruits are defined as “developed from the fertilized ovary of a flower.” Veggies, on the other hand, are basically the edible part of a plant that doesn’t happen to be a fruit. We’re setting the record straight with this list of surprising fruits that will make you question your daily veggie intake.

1. Tomatoes

Katie Huang

The tomato is probably the most well-known fruit on this list. This is no longer a debate. Venture into the world of the unknown and try out a sweet tomato recipe that won’t make you second guess tomato’s fruit status.

2. Cucumber

Haliana Burhans

Seeds are a dead giveaway that your favorite vegetable or salad topper, in this case, is a fruit. Cucumbers are probably the least—sugary fruit on this list. This is mainly because they have a high water content .

3. Eggplant

Madeleine Cohen

Imagine opening up the dessert basket of ingredients on Chopped and inside there’s an eggplant. Not likely, right? Contestants would have to get super creative to work this fruit into their dish.

4. Squash

Mulin Xiong

Squash and zucchini recipes have gotten immensely popular with the introduction of the spiralizer. So much so that we thought of them as a league of their own. It looks like you’ve been replacing starchy pasta with fruit this whole time.

5. Olives

Charlotte Hull

I never really considered olives a fruit or a vegetable. I guess I always thought of them as their own category. Like tomatoes and squash we tend to eat olives in savory dishes, or on their own like you might eat fruit. See what I did there?

6. Peppers

Alex Tom

This fruit isn’t a total shocker. After all, the nickname for these bell peppers are “sweet peppers.” I personally wouldn’t count green bell peppers on this list since they are actually just unripe red peppers.

7. Pumpkin

Steph Auble

After September rolls around up until Thanksgiving, we are consumed with, and actually consuming, So. Much. Pumpkin. Pumpkin pie, cookies, and lattes are a testament to pumpkins’ fruity roots.

8. Peas

Sarah Morris

Being green doesn’t automatically make peas veggie. Looks can be deceiving. These little guys also have about a tablespoon of sugar per 1/2 cup. Frozen peas might be the perfect green fruit to switch things up in your usual green smoothie.

9. Avocado

Molly Krohe

Avocados are an unexpected addition to this list. Like olives, I never really considered avocados to be a vegetable or fruit. I always thought of them as an excellent source of healthy fats and the answer to my plain Tostito prayers. This totally makes sense though since avocados are commonly used in vegan desserts.

10. Corn

Chelsea Ayukawa

These yellow kernels are actually considered a fruit. John Smith had the right idea in Pocahontas when he tried to tell the evil Governor how awesome corn was. I bet neither of them knew that it was a fruit.

Bell Pepper Info And Planting – How To Start Growing Peppers

Like most gardeners, when you’re planning your vegetable garden, you’ll probably want to include bell peppers. Peppers are excellent in all sorts of dishes, raw and cooked. They can be frozen at season’s end and enjoyed in dishes throughout the winter.

Brush up on some bell pepper info to learn all about growing these delicious and nutritious vegetables. A little knowledge about pepper plant care will go a long way.

What Growing Peppers Need to Get Started

Growing bell peppers isn’t difficult, but temperature is an important factor. While they’re fairly easy to grow, pepper plant care in these early stages is critical.

Always start pepper plant seedlings indoors. The seeds need the warmth of your house to germinate. Fill a seed tray with seed starting soil or well-draining potting soil, placing one to three seeds in each container. Place the tray in a warm location or use a warming mat to keep them between 70 to 90 degrees F. (21-32 C.) – the warmer the better.

If you find it helpful, you can cover the tray with plastic wrap. Water droplets will form on the underside of the plastic to let you know the baby seeds have enough water. If the drops stop forming, it’s time to give them a drink. You should begin to see signs of plants popping up within a couple weeks.

When your little plants get to be a few inches tall, gently pot them separately in small pots. As the weather begins to warm, you can get the small plants used to the outdoors by hardening the seedlings off – putting them out during the day for a bit. This, along with a little fertilizer now and then, will strengthen them in preparation for the garden.

When the weather has warmed up and your young plants have grown to about 8 inches tall (20 cm.), they can be transferred to the garden. They’ll thrive in soil with a pH of 6.5 or 7.

How Do I Grow Peppers in the Garden?

Since bell peppers thrive in the warm seasons, wait for the nighttime temperatures in your region rise to 50 degrees F. (10 C.) or higher before transplanting them to the garden. Before you plant peppers outdoors, it’s important to be absolutely certain that the chance of frost is long gone. A frost will either kill the plants altogether or inhibit pepper growth, leaving you with bare plants.

Pepper plants should be placed in the soil 18 to 24 inches (46-60 cm.) apart. They’ll enjoy being planted near your tomato plants. The soil should be well drained and amended before you put them into the ground. Healthy pepper plants should produce peppers throughout late summer.

Harvesting Peppers

It’s easy to determine when your peppers are ready to harvest. Begin to pick the peppers once they are 3 to 4 inches (7.6 to 10 cm.) long and the fruit is firm and green. If they feel somewhat thin, the peppers aren’t ripe. If they feel soggy, it means they’ve been left on the plant too long. After you harvest the first crop of peppers, feel free to fertilize the plants to give them the energy they need to form another crop.

Some gardeners prefer red, yellow or orange bell peppers. These varieties just need to stay on the vine longer to mature. They’ll start out green, but you’ll notice they have a thinner feel. Once they begin to take on color, the peppers will thicken and become ripe enough to harvest. Enjoy!

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