Why do my sweet bell peppers taste bitter? Is there any way to improve the flavor?

If your supposedly “sweet” peppers taste bitter, the most likely culprit is lack of water. Pepper plants need to be consistently moist. Drought-stressed peppers go into survival mode, hastily ripening fruits and seeds without putting much energy into flavor. The resulting peppers are thin-walled and bitter.

Keep your plants well watered, especially after they’ve started setting fruit, and even more especially during the hottest months. In addition to not getting enough water, some other possible causes of bitter peppers are:

    • Ripening: Peppers grow sweeter as they ripen and turn from green to red, orange, yellow, or purple. For the sweetest peppers, be sure they’re fully ripe before picking.

Watering bell pepper plant.
Watering bell pepper plant.

  • Variety: Some varieties of peppers are sweeter than others. Red and orange peppers tend to be sweeter than purple or brown ones. And, if bell peppers consistently don’t grow well in your garden, there are plenty of other types of sweet peppers (with elongated shapes but similar flavor) that may do better.
  • Nutrition: Feed peppers once a month with a balanced, slow-release organic fertilizer or compost. Some growers also swear by epsom salts as a boost to pepper growth and flavor.
  • Soil pH: Like most garden veggies, peppers prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH of 5.5 to 7.0. Conduct a soil test to be sure your soil is providing the best growing conditions.
  • Temperature: Even though peppers are warm-season veggies, they still suffer when temperatures soar over 90° F. In addition to watering, be sure to mulch your plants to keep the soil cooler than the stems. It might also help to provide a bit of light shade during the hottest months, to prevent sunburn.


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    Danny Lipford


    Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio, TodaysHomeowner.com, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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