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You may have wondered at some point whether the different colors of bell pepper come from the same plant. They do! There are two major factors that determine a pepper's color:

  • The time of harvesting/degree of ripening
  • The varietal


All bell peppers start out green and change color as they mature. If it's not picked, a green pepper may become yellow, orange, or red, depending on its varietal. The longer the fruit stays on the vine, the sweeter it becomes and the more nutritional value it gains. Since they were less ripe when picked, green peppers have longer shelf lives but are less nutrient-dense than peppers that have matured to another color.


People often wonder why bell pepper prices vary so much depending on color. Most store clerks don't even know why the green peppers are cheaper than the yellow, orange, and red ones. The answer is quite simple. The yellow, orange, and red peppers are more expensive than the green ones because they are harvested later and spend more time on the vine. The green ones are the cheapest because they are picked earlier while they are still unripe. The ripe yellow, orange, and red peppers available at stores are left on the plant longer, meaning they receive additional time, water, and care from farmers. The additional time and resources that go into cultivating ripe bell peppers are factored into their prices.


Yellow Bell Peppers

    • Soil should be well drained, but be sure to maintain adequate moisture either with mulch or plastic covering. Soil temperature should be at least 65°F, as peppers will not survive transplanting at temps any colder. Northern gardeners can warm up the soil by covering it with black plastic.
    • Begin to harden off plants about 10 days before transplanting outdoors.
    • Once nighttime temperatures reach at least 60°F (16°C), transplant seedlings outdoors, spacing them 18 to 24 inches apart.
    • Plant the transplants no deeper than they were already; otherwise, the stems may become susceptible to rot.
    • Water one to two inches per week, but remember that peppers are extremely heat sensitive. If you live in a warm or desert climate, watering everyday may be necessary.
    • Fertilize after the first fruit set.
    • Weed carefully around plants to avoid disturbing roots.
    • If necessary, support plants with cages or stakes to prevent bending. Try commercially available cone-shaped wire tomato cages. They may not be ideal for tomatoes, but they are just the thing for peppers. Or, build your own garden supports.


    • Harvest as soon as peppers reach desired size or color.
    • The longer bell peppers stay on the plant, the more sweet they become and the greater their vitamin C content.
    • Use a sharp knife or scissors to cut peppers clean off the plant for the least damage.

    • Peppers can be refrigerated in plastic bags for up to 10 days after harvesting.
    • Bell peppers can be dried, and we would recommend a conventional oven for the task. Wash, core, and seed the peppers. Cut into one-half-inch strips. Steam for about ten minutes, then spread on a baking sheet. Dry in the oven at 140°F (or the lowest possible temperature) until brittle, stirring occasionally and switching tray positions. When the peppers are cool, put them in bags or storage containers.
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