There is no rush to get peppers into the garden, and they can wait until May or even June. Peppers can handle our summertime heat, and actually grow faster with warmer weather. Just like other warm season veggies, we need to wait until after all danger of frost has passed to put peppers into the garden. It is also a benefit to start peppers from seed inside in the early spring, and put in the garden as transplants. Remember to “harden” your transplants, but putting them outside in the protected spot for a week before they go into the garden. It is fine to start peppers from seed in the garden, but it just takes a little longer to bear fruit.

Peppers should be planted 12 inches apart, in rows three feet apart. Avoid planting in areas that grew eggplant, tobacco, peppers, tomatoes, or potatoes in the past year. This will help cut down on disease problems. Insects in general leave pepper plants alone, but you should keep an eye out for aphids and caterpillars. A common problem with peppers in the Carolinas is blossom end rot. This is caused by a calcium deficiency, and is avoided by keeping the plants evenly watered and avoid drying out the soil.

Peppers will be ready 75-90 days after transplanting, or about 100-120 days after planting from seed. Peppers can be picked when they reach full size, and the peppers are firm. You can pick them when they are green or yellow, or wait for them to further ripen and turn orange or red.

There are many varieties of peppers to choose from, but the biggest choice to make is between mild peppers or hot peppers. All grow well in the Carolinas, including hot peppers. In fact, the hottest pepper in the world is the Carolina Reaper, which was bred in Rock Hill, SC.