Peppers are a warm-season crop, which grow well in this area. Peppers are available in a wide variety of flavors that range from sweet to hot and from fruity to spicy. They also come in a beautiful array of colors. Bell peppers are a good source of vitamin C and red peppers are an excellent source of vitamin A.
The compounds found in peppers that provide the spicy or pungent heat are called capsaicinoids. Sweet bell peppers lack the pungency of hot peppers. They can be cooked or eaten raw. Peppers are part of the nightshade family (Solanaceae) which includes tomatoes, Irish potatoes and eggplants.
Peppers thrive in well-drained soil. It is best to plant them in areas that receive at least six hours of sunlight daily. The time to transplant them in our area is early to mid-May. They require warm ambient temperature and a soil temperature between 65 to 95°F to grow to their maximum potential. It is always best to transplant peppers on a cloudy day or in the evening. This will prevent excessive wilting or desiccation of the plant.
The best cultivars of sweet bell peppers for our area include Purple Beauty, Big Bertha, King Arthur and Orange Blaze. The best cultivars for Jalapeno peppers include Emerald Fire, Spicy Slice, and El Jefe.
If Serrano peppers are your thing, try Flaming Jade or Hot Rod. For those of you interested in growing Cayenne peppers look for Red Ember and Giant Rista. There are also other hot pepper cultivars; try like Mad Hatter, Holy Mole and Tabasco.
Watch your peppers closely for disease! This is always a potential problem in our hot, humid summer. Bacterial leaf spot and southern blight are common diseases in pepper crops. Always make an effort to purchase resistant varieties to combat these problems. Good cultural practices like crop rotation will aid in reducing the risk of disease when growing peppers.
So, in closing, I can only say “pick a pepper!” If you have any questions about growing peppers or cultivar suggestions, please feel free to contact me at 901-752-1207. I am more than happy to help! I can’t wait to get my pepper plants in the ground!
Photo Credits: Kerrie Rogers 2021 MG Int; Shannon Hammers TEMG2004