Chilli Peppers are fun to grow. They like to be kept warm and are very happy on a warm window sill if you haven’t got a greenhouse.
If you are growing them from seed sow them early in the year. February or March. Otherwise buy young plants in May, from a garden centre or an online supplier.
How to Sow Chilli Seeds:
- Pots – shallow pots will do, but we use the small cells & plant one seed per cell. This means we can treat each seedling individually as they will probably all germinate at different rates.
- Compost – use a general purpose compost which is broken down to an even crumby mixture. Fill the cell with compost and press it down.
- Seed – Place one seed in the centre of each cell and cover it with a sprinkling of compost. If using pots, spread the seeds out about 4cm between each seed.
- Water – with a light spray. Misting is better because the seeds don’t like to get soaked. They will rot off it they get too wet, but they must be kept damp at all times. One way round this is to cover them with a thin layer of vermiculite which keeps the surface open. Once planted the cells are covered with cling film to retain the moisture.
- Warm temperature – is vital! Anything over 18°C will do, although germination will be slow. 28°C to 32°C is ideal. A purpose built propogator is ideal, but an airing cupboard will do. Some people place the cells on an old electric blanket or a heat pads used for pets. We usually put the compost on top of the boiler to warm it up before planting.
Germination will take from 2 to 4 weeks, but start checking every day after 10 days. As soon as they have sprouted, bring them out into the light. The temperature can be dropped to 18 – 20°C, so a warm window sill is ideal, but make sure the temperature does not dive at night. They need really bright light to stop them getting leggy.
How to Transplant Chilli Seedlings:
- When the seedlings are about 2.5cm tall move them to a bigger pot, about 7cm.
- Use fresh compost in the pot, but try to move the seedling with as much of the original compost as possible around its roots.
- Firm the compost gently and water with a spray.
- Place in a warm, light position.
Repot Chilli Plants as they grow:
- A series of 15cm and 20cm pots can be used as the plants grow. The size of the pot will influence how tall the plant grows, so keep in a small pot if you only want a baby plant.
- Remember that you can trim the top of the plant to keep it to a manageable size if growing on the windowsill.
How to look after the Chilli Plants:
- Stake the plant when it is about 20cm tall
- Water regularly but sparingly, so soil remains on the dry side. Use water which has been standing for sometime & is at room temperature.
- Feed weekly with a tomato fertiliser.
- Pinch out the top of flowering shoots to encourage branching.
- Hand pollinate flowers with a fine paint brush or moist cotton bud, taking the pollen from one flower to another.
How to Harvest Chillies:
- Cut fruit singly off the plants with sharp scissors.
- Pick regularly so the plant will produce more fruits.
- Chillies will be ripe in July to September.
- Later in the season, cut them off and allow them to ripen off the plant.