CAPSICUM annuum 'Mandarin'( Grossum Group)
Plant Common Name
Bell Pepper, Mandarin Pepper
Few peppers can match the beauty of the 'Mandarin' sweet bells. The productive, disease resistant plants produce an abundance of super sweet, oblong, bell-shaped fruits that turn from green to orange-red. A 1994 Syngenta introduction, 'Mandarin' peppers measure from 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) long. Green peppers can be harvested about 75 days after planting robust seedlings. Wait another three weeks or so for the fruits to turn deepest orange. The fruits are zesty when green and develop well-rounded sweet pepper flavor when fully mature. They are perfect for cooking and fresh eating and add great color to food.
Native to tropical America, these annuals had been grown and selected by Native Americans since pre-history times. In fact, their specific region of origin is still unknown due to distribution by man. Peppers became available to Europeans when the new and old worlds connected. Since then, many unique selections have been developed in Europe—particularly in warm Mediterranean countries like Spain, Italy and Greece where they grow well.
Peppers are bushy plants with rigid, brittle stems and thin, often broad, dark green leaves. Their flowers are inconspicuous, five-petaled and white. Peppers have firm, fleshy, hollow fruits that may be harvested green or allowed to mature to red, orange, yellow, purple-brown, or near ivory, depending on the selection. On the interior they are lined with spongy ribbing which supports many small, flattened, rounded seeds. Bell peppers are all members of the Grossum groups, due to their large size and distinctive shape.
Green fruits have a sharper taste and mature are sweeter, but the heat of a pepper is what most are interested in. Many peppers are spicy hot. Their heat is produced by a chemical called capsaicin measured in units called Scoville units against the Scoville scale (http://www.chilliworld.com/FactFile/Scoville_Scale.asp). The purer the capsaicin, the hotter the pepper and the higher the Scoville rating. Pepper seeds carry more heat than the flesh of the fruit. Still, bell peppers have the lowest heat of all and are almost never spicy.
Bell peppers are warm season vegetables that are easy to grow, if you can provide them with the correct conditions. Full sun, warmth, fertile, perfectly drained soil and regular feeding are required for good growth and fruit production. Peppers generally take 60 to 90 days to harvest. Some vascular wilts and fungal problems can befall them, but overall they are not needy. Proper spacing will keep diseases at bay and help with fruit production, so plant according to the grower’s guidelines.
Start pepper seeds indoors six to eight weeks before the last spring frost date and transplant outdoors later. Abundant flowering and fruiting occur from late spring into fall (until the killing frost) in areas with cold winters, and year round where winters are warm and frost-free. Peppers can be ornamental as well as tasty, so enjoy them as bedding or container plants as well as vegetable garden standbys.