How to Identify Male and Female Bell Peppers?

Many people are curious to know if there really are male and female bell peppers. This idea has been around for many years. The theory is that the number of lobes a bell pepper has will indicate its gender and whether it will have more seeds or is sweet. Moreover, when you try to search online for an answer, you’ll find that there are two different points of view to this.

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Do bell peppers have gender?

Myth

Bell peppers with four lobes are female while bell peppers with three lobes are male. According to the same theory, male bell peppers are best for cooking while female bell peppers are generally sweeter, with more seeds and best eaten raw.

Fact

Vegetables don’t have a gender. In plants, it is typically the flowers that have the sexual organs. The flowers of bell peppers are often referred to as “perfect” flowers as they have both the male and female parts (stamen and pistil). The same is true for other plants in the Nightshade family including tomatoes, potatoes and eggplants. Botanists call these flowers as hermaphroditic or bisexual.

You might be wondering what are the advantages of having “perfect” flowers. This means that the fruit of the pepper plants contains ovaries which in turn produce seeds. Each fruit developed though a self-fertilization process.

There is a wide variety of bell peppers and they differ in size and shape. Typically, each pepper will have three or four lobes. Some varieties could have less or more lobes. The number of lobes doesn’t indicate the sex of a bell pepper because if this is so, how do you call bell peppers with only two or five lobes?

Myth

Bell peppers with four lobes contain more seeds.

Fact

It may be true that four lobed-bell peppers have more seeds because they have more cavity space where the seeds can grow. But this is not always true as there is no way to determine how much seeds a fruit contains unless you cut it open. However, if you are hunting for bell-pepper seeds, you are better off choosing those with four lobes.

Myth

Four-lobed peppers are sweeter.

Fact

The sweetness of a pepper generally depends on its variety and not on the number of lobes it has. Other factors that affect its sweetness include the soil, weather, and how long the fruit stays on the plant. Most gardeners know that bell peppers that mature from green to red on the plant will be sweeter regardless of their number of lobes.

Now that we busted some of the popular myths about bell peppers, it would be good to know just how to properly grow these plants:

Basic Needs of Bell Peppers

The quality of soil as well as its pH level can greatly affect the overall health of a bell pepper. To promote healthy growth, choose a soil that drains easily. A soil that is not too clay-filled or too sandy is the ideal choice. If the soil is not that healthy, adding a good amount of organic fertilizer provides the vital nutrients for the plants.

You can successfully grow bell peppers if you know their basic needs. The Farmer’s Almanac listed down some of the important tips for growing bell peppers:

Planting Tips

  • Grow seeds indoor for 8-10 weeks and that should be before the start of the last spring frost.
  • To germinate seed, keep the temperature at about 70°F or higher. Keeping the seeds in a warm area helps them germinate faster.
  • If growing in a pot, grow three seeds in a pot to increase the chances of growth. Once the seeds grow, remove the weakest seedling while letting the 2 remaining plants grow together in the same pot. More often, this will yield a better harvest than planting two separate plants as their leaves protect each other against sunscald. Begin to harden off plants about 10 days before transplanting.
  • If growing in the garden, transplant the seeds only after introducing an aged compost to it.
  • When the danger of the last frost has already passed, transplant the seedlings outdoors, planting them about 18 to 24 inches apart. Remember to keep the pair of plants close to touching.
  • Make sure that the garden soil has a temperature of least 65°F. Bell peppers will not survive transplanting if the temperature is colder. In cold climate areas, you can warm up the soil by covering it with black plastic.
  • Bell pepper loves having a bit of sulfur. As a trick, you can add two or three match sticks in the hole along with a teaspoon of fertilizer.

Care Tips

  • Keep the soil well-drained while making sure that it has adequate moisture. You can achieve this by using a plastic covering or mulch.
  • Peppers are heat sensitive. Under normal climate, you need to water the plant one to two inches per week. If you live in a desert climate, it may be necessary to water daily.
  • Fertilize the plant after seeing the first fruit.
  • If necessary, support the plant with a cage or stake to prevent bending.

Bell pepper is a popular ingredient for salads and for various dishes. It is a vegetable many people are familiar with. Its popularity also leads many to believe the popular myths about this plant. It is easy to believe some myths that have already been circulating for many years.

It is important to remember that there are no male or female bell peppers. The number of lobes a bell pepper has doesn’t indicate the sweetness or the number of seeds a fruit has. If you are going to use a bell pepper for cooking or for a salad, you can basically use any fruit regardless of its number of lobes.

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Ella Wilson
 

Hi! This is Ella Wilson, the founder of tinyplantation.com. Being a devotee with plants and gardens, you will find numerous things with me. I have developed enough interest regarding plants that these things do not bore me anymore; instead this has become my passion.

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