Bell peppers are delicious and can be used in many dishes. And while growing bell peppers can be challenging via hydroponics - that’s part of the fun.
However, even though peppers are tricky to grow hydroponically, there are multiple techniques that can make it simpler. Once all the systems are in place and automated, they should be ready to simply plug and play.
There’s also the fact that growing bell peppers hydroponically means you’ll be able to tap into a number of benefits.
Related: How To Grow Hydroponic Hot Peppers
Benefits of Growing Bell Peppers Hydroponically
While the nay-sayers will insist that produce grown hydroponically tastes different and contains fewer nutrients. But both of these statements are false, and many will say bell peppers taste better when grown hydroponically.
The benefits of growing bell peppers hydroponically include:
- Produces more fruit per plant
- The plant can be grown in any space, including indoors
- All-year-round harvests
- Fewer pests and diseases to worry about
- And faster lifecycle
While we are a probably biased source of information, others swear by the fact that bell peppers taste and smell better, as well as grow bigger, in a hydroponics setup.
Now, let’s define what environment bell peppers want.
Perfect Growing Conditions for Bell Peppers
Also known as paprika, sweet pepper, or capsicum, bell peppers are a part of the Capsicum species. Cultivars of the group are numerous and come in loads of different sizes and colors. The fruit is technically classified as a berry.
Bell peppers are native to Mexico, Central America, and the northern part of South America. Growing in these regions means the plant loves warm, moist soil and air temperatures ranging between 70°F to 84°F.
Also, these areas are humid, which bell peppers love. The popular cultivars of bell peppers include:
- California Wonder
- Yolo Wonder
- Staddon’s Select
- Purple Beauty
- And Horizon Orange
Now that we know that bell peppers like hot and humid conditions, let’s investigate what you’ll need to grow them hydroponically.
How To Grow Bell Peppers Hydroponically
Mature bell pepper plants vary in size between six to three feet tall. Depending on how large the peppers grow, you may be required to support the plant with stakes, as on average, they can host between five to ten peppers per plant.
From seed to harvest in a hydroponic setup, growing them will take between 50 to 80 days. But there will be variations depending on the type of bell pepper you’re growing.
During this time, the bell peppers must be kept in warm and humid conditions otherwise they won’t thrive. The growing medium in the pots can be either coco coir, lightweight expanded clay aggregate (LECA), or a mix of peat. It is important to remember that this needs to drain well while retaining loads of moisture.
If you are growing from seed, using Rockwool is great, as it will also act as an anchoring medium. But if your plant gets above two feet, it will have difficulty staying up-right. Hence the recommendation of stakes.
The height of the plant will also dictate your lighting rigging. As a plant that originated in the tropics, it will need full sun, or 12 to 18 hours of light a day. Using an LED light will help with the energy bills that accrue from keeping the lights on for this length of time.
But be aware, light requirements can change depending on the cultivar of the bell pepper.
Bell peppers do not require a powerful light, but high-intensity grow lights do provide additional heat, which is helpful for the plant.
The ideal pH for bell peppers is around 6.0 - 7.0, but they can tolerate pH levels as low as 5.5. Also, test out the electrical connectivity (EC) reading regularly, which should remain close to 2.0 while growing.
EC levels are also important as this helps the plant suck up nutrients. If they are too low your plant will suffer.
With the growing environment being heated and humid, you will want to steer clear of using organic tea fertilizers as they can contribute pathogens to the system.
The macronutrients and micronutrients that bell peppers need are:
- Ammonium (NH4)
- Boron (B)
- Calcium (Ca)
- Chloride (Cl)
- Copper (Cu)
- Iron (Fe)
- Magnesium (Mg)
- Manganese (Mn)
- Molybdenum (Mo)
- Nitrate (NO3)
- Potassium (K)
- Phosphate (PO4)
- Sulfates (SO4)
- Sodium (Na)
- Zinc (Zn)
All of this will be in the hydroponic nutrient kit. This being said, make sure to check the label. And with peppers, high nitrogen levels aren’t required and can turn the plant a darker green and burn the leaf edges.
This plant can make fruit for up to three years or more, so getting the mix correct makes the difference between a great producer and a dud.
The type of hydroponic system you’ll need for the crop is either an ebb and flow or deep water culture (DWC). We’d strongly recommend a DWC due to the size of the plant and its longevity. You can either build your own DWC system or purchase the best DWC hydroponic system online.
Also, schedule the replacement of the nutrient mix every two weeks. While it is advisable to place bell peppers at least six to eight inches apart, this will only be a factor if you utilize an ebb and flow system.
While fine-tuning your hydroponic setup, you may encounter a few problems.
Common Bell Pepper Problems
When starting out, you are bound to encounter a few issues. This is especially true when growing bell peppers, crops like spinach will be a breeze in comparison.
Here are the top three issues:
Common outdoor pests are aphids, spider mites, whiteflies, and fungus gnats. When you grow produce indoors you’ll avoid many of these pests.
But by simply implementing preventive measures, you can be sure that the pests won’t be an issue.
Growing indoors, you will need the best lighting for your crop. It is best to invest in a large full-spectrum LED light. The size of the light will depend on the size of the operation.
Not Monitoring Plants
When getting the hydroponic setup automated, keeping a constant eye on operations is difficult.
Be sure to plan a daily schedule to check pH, EC, water temperature, and the general state of the system.
Water temperature levels can be maintained through water heaters and heating mats.
You can also install a monitoring setup to activate an alarm because making sure that upkeep is maintained is crucial for the longevity of the system and plants.
Now you’re ready to grow your own bell peppers all year around.
Time To Start Growing Bell Peppers
Bell Peppers are perfect for both the novice or expert home hydroponic gardeners. When all the inputs are addressed and dialed in, you could have fresh bell peppers all year round for three years per plant.
There’s no better time than the present to start growing your own.