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Friday, 31 December 2010

Grow Your Own Chilli Plants: The Basics

In response to a few requests here is my notes on basic chilli plant growing from seed ready for 2011 planning. There are many grow your own guides out there and many go into much more detail which can be useful but chili pepper growing does not have to be complex or difficult, just fun! so have a read and get started and enjoy your 2012 growing season.

Growing your own red hot chillis from seed can be very rewarding!Whether you are growing indoors or outdoors, anyone can do it and you don't have to be into gardening or a great gardener to be successful! All you need is some seeds, compost and seed trays/small pots. Then a sunny space, a little care and in no time you will have your own beautiful plant brightening up your home and cooking!

Where to Begin:

Jalapeno Chillis

The key to good chili plant growth is finding a nice sheltered sunny spot. Then just keep them watered and fed throughout the growing season. I have found that some types grow easier and better than others. The fun will be finding out which ones work for you. A good place to start though is with Jalapeno seeds (sometimes called pizza chillis in garden centres) or maybe the Apache Chilli. I have found these to be very hardy and successful plants.

Sowing the Seeds:

Chillis need a temperature between 18C and 22C with lots of light. The seeds first need to be germinated indoors to protect them from the cold. If you have a greenhouse or a Propagator (cheap and easy to pick up from and local DIY/garden centre) you can put the seeds in as early as February. If not sowing is best left until late March or early April.

Sow seeds thinly in trays with moist good compost. Take care to get the balance right, not dry but not soggy either. Once the seeds have germinated and grown two true leaves, plant each individual chilli plant into a small pot about 75mm again with plenty of light and space.

Once these mini plants have a healthy root system and are about a ruler length in height you can plant them out into their final position.

Twilight Chilli
Where to put your Plants:

If you are short of space your chilli plant will be more than happy on a windowsill. Even better in a greenhouse if you have one. Last year when we had the good summer I found my plants did well in the garden out on the decking in a sunny sheltered spot.

Growing On:

One established chilli plants are best transferred to larger pots. Feed your chillis with a liquid fertiliser until they are established again then transfer to a high potash fertiliser to encourage your plant to flower and produce fruit. Try to handle the plants by their seed leaves only. This will avoid crushing them and the possibility of causing death by crushing the stem. Pay careful attention to keep them weed free and watch out for common pests as you will more than likely get some! see ideas below for dealing with them. Chilli plants need just the right amount of water too, sporadic watering stops growth and too much water can damage the plants. I always find this difficult to get the right balance but if you try and keep to the Little and often rule you will be fine. Once you have more interest in growing superior yields you can investigate various growing its to ensure your plants get what they need when they need. I have yet to try one of these these kits but will be soon!

Now you have Plants how do you keep them Happy?

As your chillis grow they will need support this just needs a simple small wooden stake in your pot secured with garden twine.

You have two choices when choosing to harvest your peppers. Harvesting regularly the green peppers which will stimulate the plant to produce more and more peppers. Or, leave a few choice peppers on the plant to fully ripen. You can watch Jalapeno chillis turn from green to black to red!

For further advice and more specialist products, such as self watering pots for bumper harvests, to help you in your chilli production visit greenhouse sensation. or check out
 The Complete Chilli Pepper Book: A Gardener's Guide to Choosing, Growing, Preserving, and Cooking

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  1. Great advices! I am planing on growing a lot of chilies for next season, too bad I have way more seeds than I have space, I have a hard decision to make

  2. James; I've ordered some seeds for a variety called Fuego. Have you ever grown / eaten these?

  3. Fuego, not come across those before but did a quick search on some information from the sites I know. there is useful growing info here:

    and if you cant wait to taste them there is a special sauce here that I now have interest in too

    I look forward to your usual pictures and thoughts on their heat and flavour :)

  4. That myfolia site is packed with info, isn't it? Perhaps TOO much info! Anyway, it sounds as if Fuego will tick all the boxes for me - I like "prolific" and I like "early" and I like "hot"...
    I ordered mine from They seem to have a pretty good selection of chillis.