When and how to harvest bell peppers

Most bell peppers at your local grocery store are green, red, yellow or orange in color. It takes more time on the bush for peppers to ripen to the sweeter tasting red, yellow or orange colors and because of that, they will cost more. That higher expense has led gardeners to plant their own peppers. The good news is that the expense of seeds or plants is more than recouped when the peppers are harvested.

When to harvest

Typically, a mature pepper will be three to four inches in diameter. Yellow, red, and orange peppers start out green. You can certainly harvest the pepper when it is green; however, if you want that bright colored pepper, you need to wait, leaving the pepper on the bush to mature. 

Watch the pepper for color changes. The pepper will start its color transition on the top side of the pepper where the sun hits it. The ripen process will slowly progress around to the non-sunny side. 

How to harvest

After months of waiting, when the pepper is fully colored, it is ready for harvesting—cut from the bush. To avoid popping the stem from the pepper, don’t just pull the pepper off. Use clippers to snip the stem about an inch from the pepper. 

By picking as soon as the pepper has ripened, you can increase the yield of the plant.