If you are new to growing peppers, you will likely want to know how long they will take to grow. Peppers take longer to grow than many other common vegetable crops.
If you’re looking for a short-season plant, peppers aren’t a great choice! However, the longer wait is well worth it for the delicious outcome (of course I’m a bit biased…).
So, in this article, you’ll learn how long peppers take to grow from seed to harvest.
Pepper Plant Growth Timeline
To summarize, pepper plants can take anywhere from 90 days to 150 days (3-5 months) to grow from seed. This range varies widely due to the many different types of peppers and how long they each take to ripen.
For example, many bell peppers are ready to pick just 90 days after planting from seed, or 115 days for red ripe peppers. Habaneros, on the other hand, need around 150 days from seed to ripe harvest.
Main pepper growth stages:
- Germination. Most pepper seeds germinate within 5-10 days.
- Growth stage. The first 6-8 weeks are spent indoors growing foliage and stems. If you buy your pepper plants from the nursery, you’re saving about 4-8 weeks of growth, depending on the size of the seedlings.
- Flowering. Flowers begin forming after the peppers are transplanted outdoors. Flowering continues throughout the growing season.
- Fruiting. Many peppers can be picked unripe once the fruits are fully formed. Picking unripe fruits like green jalapeños, green bells, and green habaneros saves several weeks, moving the harvest date sooner.
- Ripening. Some peppers are only picked after they change colors. Red bell peppers, orange habaneros, and red ghost peppers all need extra time on the plant to fully ripen. This typically adds 3-4 weeks to the growth time.
These main pepper growth stages can come at different times for different peppers. However, all edible peppers will go through these stages on their way to harvest day.
Sweet Peppers vs. Hot Peppers
If you primarily grow sweet peppers, then you will probably be harvesting sooner. This is for 2 main reasons:
- Sweet peppers tend to produce more quickly. The popular sweet peppers come from the Capsicum annuum species, which has a shorter growth period than other species. Also, bell peppers and other popular varieties are bred for faster production. As a result, there are more “early” sweet pepper varieties.
- Many sweet varieties are harvested before ripening. Banana peppers, bell peppers, and shishito peppers, and many more can be enjoyed before ripening. This saves 3-4 weeks of growth time you would need for ripe peppers.
So, if you like it sweet, you’ll be enjoying your peppers up to 2 months before hot peppers. However, if you have some spicier varieties growing, you will likely have to wait.
Many of the hottest peppers come from the Capsicum chinense species. Most plants within it take a very long time to ripen, meaning you should plant seeds a week or two earlier in most cases.
Tip: Look at your seed packet or listing to see the average “days to harvest” for each variety. For peppers, this number usually indicates the time from transplanting, not from seed.
Some hot peppers can be harvested unripe (jalapeños, serranos, etc.), while others are almost always enjoyed ripe. Habaneros, ghost peppers, and scotch bonnets are all best when allowed to fully change color before picking.
So, you may have to wait 110-150 days after sowing your hot pepper seeds before you can enjoy the fruits!
Time To Grow by Pepper Variety (From Seed)
If you want to know exactly how long it takes to grow peppers by variety, this should help. I’ve created a table showing all the most common pepper varieties and how long they take to grow to an unripe, and ripe stage.
|Time To Unripe
|Time to Ripe
In all cases, your results can vary based on the growing conditions of your plants. More sun typically leads to better growth rates. Also, avoiding transplant shock and plant stress can help your peppers produce harvests sooner.
How To Make Peppers Ripen Faster
If your plants are beyond the expected harvest window and your peppers won’t ripen, there are a few things to do. But before you try these, make sure you’re being patient! Most peppers will take at least 3-4 weeks after reaching a full size to change color.
- Increase light exposure. More sun means more energy for your peppers. The ripening process takes time because your plants need to finish forming and maturing the seeds within the peppers, first. Remember, the plant’s priority is to reproduce, and sunlight helps it do that. Move potted plants to a sunnier spot, or re-consider where your garden is located.
- Water evenly. Over-watering can stress out your pepper plants. If the soil has poor drainage or your potted plants don’t have holes, the soil can become soggy. Do your best to only water when needed by checking the soil for moisture before irrigating.
- Fertilize. While fertilizer isn’t required to grow peppers, it can help to use it in potted plants. Later in the season when the plants are low on nutrients, your container plants can benefit from a fertilizer boost. I recommend a mid-season fertilizing with a lower nitrogen blend, something like this.
To be honest, there isn’t too much you can do to force faster ripening. Patience will be your best bet when allowing your peppers to ripen, along with keeping the plants healthy overall.
I hope this article helps you understand what to expect from your pepper plants this season. Knowing how long peppers take to grow will be helpful mid-summer when your plants start to produce their harvests. Be patient and get excited to harvest and use your peppers!