Many people don't know the secret ingredient in Peter Piper's peck of peppers: it includes Purple Beauty bell peppers (Capsicum annuum var. 'Purple Beauty'). The crisp, crunchy texture and sweet flavor add a colorful boost to salads, crudité trays, and other dishes.
Purple Beauty Bell Pepper Plant Characteristics
Purple Beauty peppers grow on plants 24 to 30 inches tall and 18-20 inches wide. The thick-skinned fruit are a boxy 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 inches, with three or four lobes, at maturity, which comes 60 to 70 days after planting. The peppers start out green, then turn white, before taking on purple stripes that eventually spread to turn the entire fruit a deep, rich purple color.
Purple Beauties are resistant to tobacco mosaic virus and bacterial leaf spot, but they may be susceptible to some leaf spot varieties. Pests usually don't bother them, but you might see aphids, slugs, pill bugs, or leaf miners near the pepper plants.
Purple Beauty Bell Pepper Plants Health Benefits and Uses
Low in calories, a 5 1/2-ounce serving of these peppers provide 130 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of Vitamin C, which is more than a serving of orange juice. They also contain Vitamins A and B6, folate, manganese, potassium, and copper. The purple color comes from anthocyanins, which help to reduce the risk for high blood pressure or low HDL (good) cholesterol.
To maintain the rich color, serve Purple Beauty bell peppers raw. However, this variety is also delicious cooked, when it magically changes to a lime green color. Try stuffing them with corn and whole grain with this recipe.
Saute 2 cups fresh corn kernels and 2 minced cloves garlic in 1 tablespoon butter until heated through. Mix it with 1 cup cooked faro, 1/3 cup ricotta cheese, 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup chopped green onions, 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, and salt and pepper to taste.
Stuff the mixture into four seeded Purple Beauty peppers and set the peppers in a baking dish. Add 1/4 cup water to the bottom of the dish and bake the peppers for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons more Parmesan on top and broil until the cheese melts and turns golden brown.
Sowing The Seed
Peppers are best started indoors, in a controlled environment, 6 to 8 weeks prior to the last frost. To prevent root shock, sow your seeds in peat pots, at a depth of 1/4” under topsoil. Transplant when the weather is warm and the plants are about 1 foot tall. Stakes can be used to support your young plants, to ensure proper growth. Check below for additional info on spacing & growth habits.
Pepper plants will thrive in the heat of summer, so they should receive full sunlight for the majority of the day, with temperatures of at least 75F or more. A soil that is rich in organic matter is best, with a pH level of at least 6.2 and 7.0. Also make sure that your sowing medium is well drained, or your plants can wilt due to being waterlogged. Water your pepper seeds daily to provide them with ample amounts of moisture until germination has occurred.
Germination & Growth
Pepper seeds typically take anywhere between 14 to 28 days to germinate. After your seedlings start to grow, they will mature to an estimated height of roughly 24 to 30 inches tall. On average, Pepper plants can be spaced 18 to 24 inches apart from one another, in rows spaced 18 inches apart. These plants do very well when grown directly in the garden, or in large pots and containers as well.