Plant DetailShow Menu

Sweet Pepper Capsicum annuum (Grossum Group)

Other Common Name(s):

Other plants called Sweet Pepper:

Phonetic Spelling
KAP-sih-kum AN-yoo-um
Description

The Grossum Group of this species is better known as Bell Pepper, Sweet Pepper, Green Pepper, or Red Pepper. They are members of the Solanaceae or Nightshade family. The plant is a tropical perennial, but it is usually grown as an annual vegetable. The plant grows upright and bushy. They have dark green lance-shaped leaves, small white flowers, and edible fruits. The fruit is classified as a berry and ranges in color from green, yellow, orange, red, purple, black, and white. The immature fruit is green.  As the fruits mature, the color changes and the taste is sweeter.   

The plant is native to South America, specifically, southern Brazil and Bolivia. They have been grown in Mexico since 2500 BC. Reportedly, Christopher Columbus brought the plant to Europe, and it spread to many parts of the world, including India.

The genus name, Capsicum, comes from the Greek word Kapto, which means "to bite." Most species of this plant contain capsaicin.  This is a chemical that produces a burning sensation in the mouth when eaten.  The amount of capsaicin in peppers varies and is dependent on genetics. The gene is recessive in Sweet Peppers, so they do not contain capsaicin. The genus name is also thought to be Latin in origin for Capsa which means "box." This reflects the squarish or block shape of the fruit.

Sweet Peppers prefer full sun, moist, and well-drained soils. Drought stress may cause the flowers to drop. Cool-weather, extreme heat, and low humidity can also cause the flowers to drop. The plant also prefers loamy or sandy soil with a pH between 5.5 to 6.8. Applying a well-balanced fertilizer at the time of planting and when the first flowers appear will encourage plant growth and fruit production. Staking the plant may be advised to prevent the fruit from reaching the ground. They are propagated by seeds.

The leaves are simple, alternate, and green. The flowers are small white to yellow star-shaped blooms. The fruits form about 2 to 6 days after the flower drops. The shape and color of the fruit are dependent on the variety. The fruits may be round, elongated, or block-shaped. They will not reach their full color until they ripen. The fruits should be harvested regularly to encourage continued fruit production. The best way to harvest the fruits is by cutting them from the stem.

Sweet Pepper may be grown in a small area, flower beds, vegetable gardens, or as a border plant. Since they are warm-weather plants, they may be brought in during the winter as a houseplant.

This vegetable's high water content will add moisture to any dish.  It can be eaten raw or cooked.  Its colors also make an attractive addition to dishes. 

  • Green Sweet Peppers are not as sweet as other peppers, because they have been removed from the vine before the natural sugars are produced. They have a bitter and tangy taste.
  • Orange Sweet Peppers have a tangy, fruit taste. They are great for adding color to a salad. They have a high juice content and are firm, crisp, and crunchy.
  • Red Sweet Peppers are the sweetest and have a nice flavor when grilled. They are firm, crisp, and crunchy.
  • Yellow Sweet Peppers have a sweet taste and high nutritional content. The thick, fleshy skin will hold the chargrilled flavor. 

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: The mains pests for the Sweet Pepper plant are whiteflies, thrips, and red spider mites. Although few insects will kill the Sweet Pepper, several may damage the plant and fruit. Other insects that may be found include beet armyworms, cutworms, flea beetles, aphids, leafrollers, weevils, tomato fruit worms, and tomato psyllid. 

Thrips carry the highly infectious tomato spotted wilt virus. Other viruses found include mild mottle virus and tobacco mosaic virus. Diseases that may damage or destroy the fruit include fungal diseases such as damping-off, crown and root rot, stem and fruit rot, gray mold, and powdery mildew. 

Blossom end rot may develop from calcium deficiency. Sunscald may cause papery spots on the fruit. Good leaf coverage should be able to protect the fruits.

 

VIDEO Created by Elisabeth Meyer for "Edibles, Bulbs, and Houseplants" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.   

 

More information on Capsicum annuum.

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Vegetable Garden and Pollinator Plants
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Ace'
    Fruit green to bright red, blocky shaped
  • 'Ariane'
    Green to orange fruits, blocky shaped
  • 'Bell Boy'
    Dark green to red fruits, blocky shaped
  • 'Calimero'
    Green to bright red, round shaped, good flavor
  • 'Diablo'
    Green to bright red fruit, horn shaped, good flavor
  • 'Mohawk'
    Green to bright yellow fruit, bell shaped
  • 'Redskin'
    Dark green to glossy red, blocky shaped
  • "Staygreen"
    Bred to remain green from August to October
  • 'Sweet Spot'
    Pale yellow to orange-red, long, slim fruits
'Ace', 'Ariane', 'Bell Boy', 'Calimero', 'Diablo', 'Mohawk', 'Redskin', "Staygreen", 'Sweet Spot'
Tags:
#cultivars#annuals#vegetable garden#edible fruits#vegetable#colorful fruits#warm season vegetable
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Ace'
    Fruit green to bright red, blocky shaped
  • 'Ariane'
    Green to orange fruits, blocky shaped
  • 'Bell Boy'
    Dark green to red fruits, blocky shaped
  • 'Calimero'
    Green to bright red, round shaped, good flavor
  • 'Diablo'
    Green to bright red fruit, horn shaped, good flavor
  • 'Mohawk'
    Green to bright yellow fruit, bell shaped
  • 'Redskin'
    Dark green to glossy red, blocky shaped
  • "Staygreen"
    Bred to remain green from August to October
  • 'Sweet Spot'
    Pale yellow to orange-red, long, slim fruits
'Ace', 'Ariane', 'Bell Boy', 'Calimero', 'Diablo', 'Mohawk', 'Redskin', "Staygreen", 'Sweet Spot'
Tags:
#cultivars#annuals#vegetable garden#edible fruits#vegetable#colorful fruits#warm season vegetable
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Capsicum
    Species:
    annuum
    Family:
    Solanaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    The Sweet Pepper has been grown in Mexico since 2500 BC. The peppers were brought to Spain by Columbus and then spread to many parts of the world. They grow well in the Mediterranean area and are used in many recipes.
    Life Cycle:
    Annual
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    South America, southern Brazil and Bolivia
    Distribution:
    Native: South America; Sweet Peppers have been distributed to many parts of the world, including North America, Europe, and India.
    Play Value:
    Edible fruit
    Edibility:
    The fruit of the Sweet Pepper plant is edible and a good source of Vitamin C. They have a mild and sweet flavor. The fruits may be eaten raw or cooked.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 0 ft. 6 in. - 5 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Annual
    Edible
    Houseplant
    Vegetable
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Mounding
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Orange
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    White
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Fruit Length:
    > 3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    > 3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    The fruit shape and color are dependent on the variety. The fruits may be rounded, elongated, or blocked-shaped. The immature fruits are green. When allowed to ripen, the colors of the fruit may range from yellow, orange, red, purple, black, or white.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Insignificant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Bell
    Star
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The flowers are small star-shaped white to yellow blooms. The fruits appear about 2-6 days after the flowers drop.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are dark green, alternate, and lance-shaped.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Form:
    Straight
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    Nodes may be purple in color.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Patio
    Small Space
    Vertical Spaces
    Walkways
    Landscape Theme:
    Edible Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Mass Planting
    Small groups
    Specimen