I never used to have much luck growing chilli plants, that was until a couple of years ago, I decided to do some research to try to understand where I was going wrong. I discovered a number of chilli growing tips in books, online and even at my local farmers market where a gentleman used to sell plants laden with the fruits ready to pick.
So here they are. I won’t call them “my” chilli growing tips because really they have come from some other clever growers.
In some parts of the World, they are known as chilli peppers but in the U.K we normally settle for just “chillies”. It was Christopher Columbus who came across chillies and called them “peppers” because they were spicy much like black pepper that was found in Europe!
- Chilli seeds should be sown onto sterile potting compost in a seed tray or a small pot. Cover them with a 1/4 inch of sieved compost. Water the compost.
- Most chilli seeds need 18 to 20°C but Habaneros need 20 to 25°C. A warm window is essential, out of direct sunlight, but more reliable is a propagator that can be set to give this temperature in the compost.
- Direct sunlight can generate too much heat and stop germination.
- Another common cause of failure is the top of the compost drying out. Ensure it remains moist throughout germination but not waterlogged.
- The tray or pot can be covered with cling film which will reduce the need to water them but keep the top of the compost moist.
- Once your chilli seeds have germinated, they must be watered regularly. Again, do not let them get waterlogged but they must not dry out or they won’t recover being so small.
- As the plant grows, they do tend to cope with drying out more but ensure they get a good drink once the compost is almost dry and not before.
- Pot your chilli plants on once they have their first pair of leaves. Use 3 inch pots.
- A good compost like John Innes number 1 that will feed them helps them thrive. A slow release organic fertiliser can be used.
- Young chilli plants must not be exposed to strong direct sunlight, keep them in a bright location that doesn’t get the direct sun.
- Once the roots reach the bottom of the pot, pot it on again into larger pots.
- They can now have some direct sunlight, but no more than 4 hours per day. They prefer to be at the back of a greenhouse shaded behind other plants, or where there is some partial shade blocking some of the mid-day sun. I use cool shade on my greenhouse from May through to September which seems to work.
- Chillies do not like low humidity so planting near other plants and keeping the ground in the greenhouse moist will help. If you are growing them in pots indoors, a saucer of water on the windowsill or other plants will do the trick.
- Most varieties of chilli will grow outdoors in the garden over the summer months without a problem.
- If growing chillies indoors, pollination is usually necessary to ensure lots of fruit is set on the bush. A cotton wool bud can be used for this when the plant is in flower.
Do you have any tips or tricks for growing chillies?