How to Get a Green Bell Pepper to Turn Red
What Kinds of Bell Peppers Are Red?
Before you worry too much about how to get a green bell pepper to turn red, you need to know that the red color is simply a sign that the pepper has reached its full maturity. In fact, nearly all peppers will end up red if they are allowed to remain on the plant long enough. The trick to harvesting delicious, big red bell peppers is to pick the varieties that turn red the most reliably and then to wait until that happens.
Most red bell peppers will take 65-75 days to reach full maturity, given proper growing conditions. Be prepared to wait it out for the color to be achieved.
Green Bell Peppers vs. Red Bell Peppers
When we go to the grocery store, we can easily tell the difference between the green peppers and the red peppers. Sold in stores, the color is either fully green or red, and the bells are priced accordingly. It is typical for a red pepper to be quite a bit more expensive than a green one.
The reason that this is true is that a red pepper takes longer to grow. It is simply a mature green pepper, so producers can turn around green peppers in less time than red ones, and the price reflects that. But what is the big difference between green and red bell peppers?
For one thing, red peppers are sweeter than green peppers. As these fruits mature, the taste changes from slightly bitter in the green stage, to slightly sweet in the yellow or orange stage (if one exists), and finally reaching very sweet once red. Because of this, many people really enjoy the taste of the red fruit even though they don't care for the green ones.
Another major difference is that red peppers are healthier than green peppers, if you look at the nutritional content. As the fruit turns from green to red, vitamin C content doubles, vitamin A content is eight times higher, and beta carotene nearly triples! Red peppers are a very good source of lycopene and just full of healthy antioxidants. This doesn't mean that green peppers are not good for you - red peppers are just better.
What really entices many shoppers is that red peppers look better in healthy dishes and homemade recipes, since the bright red color is pretty and adds interest. This increases their demand.
Nutrition of Green vs. Red Pepper
Red vs. Green
8 times higher
2 times higher
3 times higher
Ripening Red Peppers Indoors
Most people have heard that a tomato will continue to ripen off the vine, but what about peppers? Will they also turn from green to red after they are picked? This is an important question for gardeners, especially when the season is coming to an end and there are still several peppers in the garden that have not turned color.
The answer is - maybe. It's true that a green pepper that is far enough along will continue to ripen indoors. To make this happen, keep the fruit on the counter or somewhere that is room temperature. Once it goes into the refrigerator, the ripening process will end. The best chance of success will come from those bells that were just starting to change or that were about to. Immature green bell peppers may not make it to red in this manner.
Just leave the pepper out until it reaches the desired color, or starts to look unhappy and like it wants to be refrigerated. You might very well get some more perfect red peppers this way, but peppers ripened off the plant will not be quite as sweet as those ripened outdoors in the sun, so there is a trade off.
Get More Red Bell Peppers Outdoors
One thing that works with all fruiting plants is to allow the plant to focus on doing fewer things at a time, so that it can achieve the final goal of setting big, ripe fruit. This is also true of peppers.
A bell pepper plant that is loaded with green peppers is using a lot more energy to grow all of them at the same time. This could result in far fewer pure red fruits on the plant. If this is the case in your garden, consider enjoying some of those peppers in the green stage, and snip them cleanly from the plant. This will allow the plant to use more energy on the remaining fruits, and they will turn color faster.
Another thing that some gardeners try is to remove a few leaves from a plant with lots of foliage to allow more sun to hit the plant. This may help, but the chance of a scalding sun or disease infecting the plant don't exactly seem worth it. Instead, make sure the plants are spaced properly in the first place so that light can get to them. Planting peppers too close together can negatively impact the harvest.
One thing that does help with peppers is to keep the area humid. Two great ways to do this are to mulch to retain moisture in the soil and to underplant the area with some low growing plant that will catch morning dew and raise humidity throughout the day. I personally grow wave petunias throughout my pepper bed, and the plants seem to really like it. The sun does not hit the soil, and the area does seem more tropical.
What's Your Favorite Bell Pepper Color?
Enjoy Red Bell Peppers This Year
Now you have a few tips to help you see some more red peppers this year. Remember, keep humidity up, don't let the plants be overcome with fruit, give them enough space, and wait for nature to do it's thing. If autumn is cutting the season short, go ahead and bring some green bells indoors to ripen in a warm place. By doing these things you can maximize the number of peppers that turn from green to red in your garden.