When to Harvest Bell Peppers

Four bell peppers on a plant in various stages of ripening. The peppers are covered in water droplets
Harvest At-A-Glance
Harvesting bell peppers at the right time can make a big difference in their flavor. Learn about when and how to harvest bell peppers.

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Bell peppers are a colorful addition to the garden that can serve as a kitchen stape. But when is the ideal moment to pluck these beauties from the vine for the ultimate taste experience? Let’s talk about when to harvest bell peppers!

How do you know when a bell pepper is ready to harvest?

Bell peppers transform from green to yellow, orange, and red (depending on the variety). As they go through this maturity process, bell peppers become sweeter and more nuanced in flavor. For green bell peppers, they are ready to harvest when the peppers feel firm and reach their mature, full size.

For yellow, orange, and red bell peppers, harvest when the peppers have fully changed colors.

Two blocky green peppers grow on a plant

Will bell peppers ripen off the vine?

After harvest, your peppers may continue to change color, but they won’t get any sweeter. So if you want the sweetness of orange, red, or yellow bell peppers, make sure to let them ripen on the vine before you harvest!

How do I encourage peppers to ripen on the vine?

The key for bell peppers is warmth. When the soil and the air are both warm enough, your peppers will ripen. You can encourage them along by mulching the soil. If you live in a region with a cooler or shorter summer, you can consider putting the plants under a low tunnel to keep them warm. 

When do you harvest bell peppers?

You can harvest your peppers at any time during the growth period. If you pick them while they are still green, the peppers will be less sweet, but your pepper plants will put out more and more vegetables. Green bell peppers tend to be crisper than other colors of peppers as well. If you wait until they are yellow, orange, or red, the peppers will be sweet, but you’ll get fewer peppers per plant. 

Yellow bell peppers grow next to brassicas

How do you harvest bell peppers?

You may be tempted to just pick peppers from the plant willy-nilly, but that can damage the veggies! Instead, use garden scissors or a sharp knife to cut the peppers at the stem. 

How long do you leave bell peppers on the plant?

It depends on what you want your peppers to taste like! Bell peppers start off green, then mature to red, orange, yellow, or another color of peppers. Green peppers are less sweet than the other colors. Pick bell peppers when they are the colors you want to eat or use in your dishes. 

Can you leave bell peppers on the plant too long?

Red bell peppers are the only sweet peppers that can be left on the plant for too long—if they aren’t harvested, they will start to shrivel and feel soft to the touch.

For more on growing bell peppers

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Cassie is a Certified Master Gardener and the founder of Growfully. She's been gardening organically for over two decades, and she's so excited to answer all the questions you have about gardening!
Meet Cassie
Meet Your Guide

Hi! My name is Cassie.

I’m a Certified Master Gardener and founder of Growfully. I’ve been gardening organically for over two decades, and I’m so excited to answer all the questions you have about gardening!

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A wooden hopper is filled with just-harvested vegetables.
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