Chilli Growing Tips
We receive many emails, messages & questions regarding chilli growing so we've come up with this easy guide to help you produce some great plants year on year.
1. Choose your seeds wisely!
As a general rule, the hotter the chilli, the longer it takes to grow and ripen. If you want fast results, consider growing milder chillies.
2. There's strength in reputation
Buying seeds from a reputable source means you are more likely to get a strong, stable plant of a genuine strain. There are many people selling seeds online but you don't have any guarantees that what will grow is what the seeds claim to be. Consider a supplier who provides samples to the National Seed Bank and has a good catalogue of seeds.
3. Gear up
If you are serious about chilli growing, you might want to consider picking up a few bits of kit that will help you get off to a good start and help you sustain healthy plants. We like to plant our seeds in Jiffy Pellets and place them in a heated propagator such as a Vitpod. Whatever your soil, make sure it's peat free.
4. A nice cup of tea...for your seeds
Soaking your seeds in tea can really help with germination success. Allowing your seeds to sit in a weak, milk & sugar free tea helps soften the seed casing. It's known as Chemical Scarification (pre soaking). Simply make a cup of tea for yourself & then use the teabag again to make a second cup using only water. Let it cool then use it for soaking your seeds for 24 hours before planting.
5. Warm your compost
Chilli seeds love the warmth and need moisture. Making sure that your compost is warm before planting your seeds is ideal. We tend to place our soaked Jiffy Pellets in to our heated propagators 1-2 days before planting the seeds. This allows the soil to warm through gently. We favour a temperature of 25-28 degrees C (77-82 F). When ready, plant your seeds about 5-10mm in to the soil and cover.
6. Damp, not wet
During germination, seeds take on water and begin to swell. Keep the soil moist at all times but don't waterlog your babies! Too much water can promote the growth of mould and even rot the chilli!
7. Step in to the light
Once your seedlings start to show (cotyledon), they are going to need a little help with photosynthesis. Using lights can be a great boost. Using bulbs that focus on the blue-white colour light spectrum is ideal for propagation and growth. There are some great low energy bulbs on the market these days. The longer you leave the lights on, the quicker the plant may grow. Don't forget to give it some down-time though as your plants will need a little dark time too. Check out our video of chilli seeds germinating towards the bottom of this page.
8. Pot on
Once your seedlings are a few centimeters tall, they would appreciate being moved in to a larger home. A 3" (75mm) pot is a good start. This gives their roots more room to spread. Don't forget to keep your soil moist.
9. Feed me, Seymour!
At this stage, your plants are a little like a teenager and have an appetite to match! Adding a good nutrient mix can help promote healthy growth. Do your reseach as there are plenty about to choose from. We like mixes that have a good amount of potash, a crucial nutrient for flowering and fruiting, as well as nitrogen, calcium and magnesium to stimulate natural development and growth. We like a product called Chilli Focus.
10. Fifth time is a charm
So your seedlings are growing up! They've enjoyed their time in their bigger home and they are showing their appreciation by growing more leaves. Once your plants are showing 5-6 pairs of leaves, you may wish to upgrade their small, one bedroom flat to a big apartment! Consider moving them in to 9"-12" (23-31cm) pots. We favour some easy growing systems such as QuadGrows. If you own a greenhouse & it's not too cold outside (especially at night), now is a good time to move your plants to this structure. See our video below regarding potting on chilli plants.
11. Lather, rise, repeat!
For the love of all that is good, please don't lather your chilli plants, we just liked the title! However, keep watering your chilli plants without saturating them and provide nutrients according to the instructions of your chosen product. You need to keep looking after your babies with repeated watering and feeding. Once the plants are tall, you may want to brace them with some plant poles so that they don't buckle or break.
12. Sun & Shade
Chilli plants love the warmth & light however, if they get too hot they can become damaged and the sun can scorch the leaves. Consider some shade where possible whilst maintaining a good source of light. If you are using nutrients, make sure that the mix is low in nitrogen at this point as it can inhibit the plant from setting fruit. Happy growing!