The Q&A Archives: Colors of Bell Peppers

Question: We have somewhat of a dispute regarding peppers. A statement was made that a pepper progresses from green to red to yellow to orange and that if you pick a pepper during the progression and plant those seeds, the resulting plant will produce peppers of that color only. Is this true? If not, how is the pepper color determined?

Answer: Most peppers are green when immature, and ripen to either red, yellow or even orange when fully mature. Purple and "chocolate" peppers are usually colored at their immature stage and turn red when fully ripe. The eventual color of the pepper is determined by genetics: various cultivars will ripen to different colors. Pepper breeders are responsible in part for the great variety of pepper colors, through selective breeding and hybridization. And no, planting a pepper seed collected during a particular color stage of a pepper will not mean that the resulting pepper plant's fruit will be ONLY that color. Like its parents, it will turn the colors it's "programmed" to until it is fully ripe. In fact, pepper seeds collected from green or otherwise unripe fruit may not germinate at all, since the seeds themselves are not fully mature. Did that help?

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