In the Kitchen, we are most accustomed to, and think of Paprika as a spice. While it's true that it is a spice, it is also a pepper or rather it is produced from peppers. What kind of pepper ? ... well a paprika pepper of course. Paprika pepper is a fairly mild pepper variety that is dried and ground into a powder for use as a spice.
Perennial treated as Annual
USDA Zones 3 - 9
Seed Depth: 1/2 Inch
Soil Temperature: 65 F Minimum
Germination 10-21 Days
Maturity: 70-90 Days
Soil pH 5.8 to 6.5
Growth Habit - Upright
Planting Time Spring, Early Summer
Harvest - Late Summer, Early Fall
Fruit Size 2 - 10 inches - varies by cultivar
Paprika adds a vibrant red orange tinge and pleasantly spicy accent to a variety of meals. The same pigments that lend that Deep Orange hue to paprika and whatever you add it to also adds a potent nutrient punch to your diet. Paprika is packed with carotenoids, vitamin A, vitamin E, Iron, and a higher concentration of Vitamin C than lemons.
Redder variations of paprika are actually milder than the deeper maroon and brownish blends, basically as a rule of thumb the heavier the brown tinge, the spicier the paprika.
There are a number of different varieties of Paprika but the two primary divisions are Spanish and Hungarian. Hungarian varieties are thinner skinned and top off at about 5 inches in length, some as small as 1.5 to 2 inches. Spanish Paprika can be up to 8 or 9 inches long.
Paprika peppers are grown in much the same fashion as any other peppers. The are usually grown for home gardens from transplants, but direct seeding works well also. Start seeds indoors in late winter or early spring in peat pots or cell packs and then transplant into the garden when night time temperatures are consistently above 50 degrees.
Germination. They take a fairly long time to germinate, 2 to 3 weeks so have some patience. 70 to 90 days for full maturity.
Soil temperatures of at least 65F is best, and will reduce the need for most protection from cooler spring weather. In cooler regions early season transplants should be Protected with cloches, hot caps, gardening cloth or cold-frames. Pepper plants are highly sensitive to frost, avoid exposure at all costs.
Paprika peppers are indigenous to the southern USA and further south into Latin America. In warm climates they can be grown as perennials but are generally treated as annuals elsewhere.
Spacing varies by cultivar, so consult the seed packet.
Water plants thoroughly immediately after transplanting.
Fertilizer. Use of a starter solution for transplants is a good idea, but not absolutely essential. Side dress cautiously after the peppers emerge and until a large number of peppers are set. Too much nitrogen before fruit set causes all foliage and little or no fruit.
I also like to spray my pepper plants with an Epsom Salts water mix, about one heaping teaspoon of Epsom salts well blended into every gallon of water. This mix can be sprayed directly on the foliage for absorption. The Epsom salts supply a much needed dose of Magnesium, but should not be used excessively as excessive use can cause more harm than good.
Soil pH should be 5.8 to 6.5 for best growth.
An early season spray of horticultural soap Horticultural Soap is a good idea on young seedlings and it will eliminate many soft-bodied insects before they can become established.
In most cases Peppers can be picked as soon as they reach an edible size, however for Paprika peppers being used to make spice it is advisable to weight till they are fully grown for optimal flavor.