The National Garden Bureau has declared 2015 to be the Year of the Sweet Pepper! Sweet bell peppers are cultivars of Capsicum annuum. Sweet peppers are called sweet because they lack the gene that produces capsaicin - the chemical that gives hot peppers their heat.
While the 3-4 lobed, blocky, bell-shaped peppers are most common, sweet peppers come in many shapes, sizes and colors. Other shapes of sweet peppers include elongated banana, round cherry, tapered horn and flattened "cheese" types. Most all peppers are green in color when they are immature but ripen to red, yellow, orange, white or purple as they mature. Some cultivars may show all of these colors at various stages of ripening. And many cultivars are both ornamental and edible.
Pepper plants are easy to grow and are quite compact, making them a good fit for limited-space gardens and containers. Peppers are warm-season crops and should be planted after danger of frost has past. Many local garden centers will have transplants available, or you can start your own transplants. Start seeds about seven weeks prior to the average date of last frost for your area.