(Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden)
Who doesn’t love a good sweet bell pepper? They’re great in just about everything whether raw or cooked. They also come in a rainbow of colors – you didn’t think they were all green did you? Green bell peppers actually mature into red, orange or yellow types. But did you know there are brown and even purple colors too? It’s true! And one of these beauties, actually its name, is the sweet Purple Beauty bell.
History of Sweet Bell Peppers
Peppers (Capsicum annuum) have a long history, having been grown over 7,000 years. It’s believed they originate in Central and South America. Columbus even mistook them for black pepper and, as such, the name of pepper was born. Sweet peppers developed from these hot, pungent ancestors. And while we commonly grow green peppers in our gardens, there’s really no such thing. As previously stated, they ripen into various colors, depending on the variety.
Purple Beauty bells are characterized by their ample, thick-walled purple fruits. The fruits, by the way, are so attractive that many people choose to grow them simply for their ornamental value, especially when mixed with other colorful types, though passing up the sweet, crisp taste these peppers provide would be rather sad. The brilliant purple color eventually ripens into a radiant purple-red.
Growing Purple Beauty Bells
So growing these sweet heirloom peppers is no different than growing any other variety. They enjoy heat and shouldn’t be planted out until temps are at least 70 degrees F. (21 C), with soil temps about 65 F/18 C. Start them indoors about 8 weeks prior to the last frost in your area in a good soilless mix, pressing the seeds about ¼ to ½ inch deep.
Be sure to harden the seedlings off before transplanting into the garden once it’s warm enough and give them plenty of space – at least 18 inches between plants. Give them full sun, fertile soil and ample drainage too. It normally takes Purple Beauty bells about 70-80 days from transplanting to ripen. Don’t forget, like many other peppers, they will turn reddish color once fully mature, so pick your Purple Beauties while they are still purple – unless, of course, you enjoy them red!
One additional factoid: when you cook this particular pepper, its purple color will magically change to green!