Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Lighting Needs for Growing California Bell Peppers

When harvesting, allow a portion of stem to remain on the pepper.

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Light conditions greatly influence fruit production in California Wonder bell pepper plants. Plants grown in undesirable lighting produce little to no fruits and experience poor growth. Grown in desirable conditions, California Wonders are hardy pepper plants. The plant has the additional benefit of resistance to the deadly tobacco mosaic virus, according to North Carolina State University.

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California Wonder bell pepper plants can grow up to 2 feet tall, with a spread of more than 12 inches. Foliage and branches are deep green. Foliage is smooth and 3 to 4 inches in length. When the plant is ready for fruiting, it produces small white flowers. When the blossoms fade and drop, a pepper begins forming in its place. The peppers are approximately 4 inches long and green when ready for harvesting. If left on the plant, the pepper eventually turns bright red. The pepper usually has four inner lobes, with thick walls. The outer flesh is smooth and glossy. Harvesting occurs approximately 72 days after germination.

Garden Growth

Consider California Wonder’s light requirements when selecting a planting location. The pepper requires a minimum of six hours of daily sunlight for proper fruit production and growth, according to Texas AgriLife Extension Service. It performs even better receiving eight to 10 hours of sunshine. Plant it in an area located in full sun, with soil that drains well. The pepper plant grows best when outdoor temperatures range between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Amend the planting site with organic materials and fertilizer before planting. Work an 8-inch layer of peat humus, manure or compost 12 inches into the soil. Use 2 tablespoons of a 10-10-10 fertilizer blend per plant and work it into the soil with the organics. Space multiple plants 12 inches apart and keep the garden soil moist by watering regularly.

Container Growth

If your yard space is limited and has poor lighting, grow the bell peppers inside containers. You can then situate the California Wonder plants in a sunny location. Just like peppers grown in the garden, potted plants require at least six hours of direct sunlight. Gardeners can increase lighting by placing the container on a white surface, such as a sidewalk or on white stones. Placing the container on aluminum foil also attracts light. Use a 2-gallon container per plant, according to Arizona Cooperative Extension. Fill the container with a fertile, lightweight potting mix. Amend the mix with a slow-release fertilizer, following package directions. Keep the soil moist through regular irrigation.

Indoor Seed Starting

Gardeners can start California Wonder bell pepper seeds indoors six weeks before planting them outdoors. Use peat pots filled with a seed-starting mixture. Plant the seeds ¼ inch deep into the pot. The seeds require warm and bright conditions for germination to occur. Place the peat pots in a south-facing window that receives bright sunlight most of the day. If the window conditions do not produce adequate light, supplement by using a grow light. Follow the particular light’s directions and suspend it over the pepper pots. Keep the soil moist. Transplant the bell pepper plants outdoors once temperatures are optimal and plants are approximately 6 inches tall.

ReferencesUniversity of Hawaii at Manoa: PepperTexas AgriLife Extension Service: PeppersNorth Carolina State University: Vegetable Cultivar Descriptions for North AmericaArizona Cooperative Extension: Vegetable Garden: Container GardenResourcesOhio State University Extension: Growing Peppers in the Home GardenUniversity of Illinois Extension: Starting Vegetable Seeds IndoorsPhoto Credit Tom Brakefield/Stockbyte/Getty ImagesRead Next:

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