Growing Chillies from seed

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Thank you for having a look at our “How To Grow Chilli Plants” page full of advice on growing chillies, we hope you will find it helpful We try to cover all the basics required to grow chilli plants from seed here with this simple step by step guide.

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Getting Ready To Sow Your Chilli Seeds

Chilli work benchChilli seeds need just the right environment to germinate into a fully productive chilli plant. One important factor is chilli seeds need warm, moist soil to start the germination process. Soil temperature is very important and must be maintained around about 21°C (70°F), although 24°C (75.2°F) I find produces the best results. Below 21°C the chilli seeds will take a long time to germinate and may eventually rot.

The best bit of equipment to get the chilli seeds germinating is a heated propagator as you have great control over the temperature, especially if you get one with a thermostatic control but you could easily just use a warm cupboard, an area close to a radiator or boiler. The other equipment you will need is a seed tray or pot, labels, a sieve and some potting compost

Things you will needs to start growing chillies

Potting Compost
Chilli Seeds
Seed Tray
Pot Labels
Sowing your Chilli seeds

Tray of Chilli SeedlingsIn order to get a really good crop of chillies you need to start planting seeds early in the year. Some chilli plants can take up to 3 or 4 months to mature, so an early start is essential to ensure that the chilli plant will produce chillies throughout the summer.

Now we can start sowing, fill a small pot or seed tray with your compost, you can either use special loam based compost such as John Innes Seed or a good general purpose compost. Fill your tray with moist compost and flatten down. Spread your seed evenly over the soil and then with a sieve cover the seeds with a very thin layer of compost, then carefully water with a fine rose. Keep the soil moist at all times, store somewhere warm and wait!

Chilli Seeds Germination

Stage 2 chilli seedlingsAfter a week – 10 days the chilli seedlings may start to show, but some varieties do take a long time, some as long as three weeks or more. Do not be hasty to give up on your seeds. You do not need any light to germinate chilli seeds so they can be kept in a a dark area, but once the seeds have germinated the seedlings need lots of lights to ensure continued development of strong chilli plants. Starting chilli seed germination early in the season is the trickiest part to growing chillies but it is worth it to get a great crop of chillies

Young Chilli Seedlings

Chilli Seedling 7cm potOnce your seed has germinated you then need to give them as much light as possible. if you have started very early in the year they may need to be kept under artificial light for a time. If you started early spring then putting the seedlings somewhere which gets lots of light should be fine. Seedlings do not need the soil to be as warm as when they where germinating but be careful not to let them get cold and damp.

Transplanting your Chillies

Transplanting chilliesWhen your chilli seedlings have their first set of true leafs then it is time to move them up into a bigger pot. Chilli seedlings do not like to be put into a big pot straight away, it is better to start with a small pot and gradually move them into a bigger pots as they out grow each pot. We use 5 stages of pots for our chillies, so there is a fair bit of work, but it is worth it.

Keeping the Chilli in the pot

Chillies look great in containers on the patio or in greenhouses or as house plants. Generally the larger the pot the bigger, and more productive the chilli plant will be. Some small dwarf varieties will do fine in smallerl size pots. Keep an eye on watering, it is acceptable to let the top inch or so to dry out between watering. Test the soil with your finger, if dry then soak the plant well, do not leave plant standing in water.

Planting Chilli Pepper Plants In The Ground

Chillies in the groundPick the spot where you want to locate your Chilli plants. This should generally be a spot that receives lots of sun, and is in a well drained. Dig a hole larger and deeper than the plant you will be transplanting. Add some organic matter (compost, well rotted manure) to the soil that you just removed from the hole and mix together. Put that mixed soil back into the hole. Place the Chilli plant at the same level or slightly deeper than how it was growing in the pot. Backfill with more of the same loose, mixed soil, and when done tap down the soil down around the stem.

When and How to Water Your Chilli Plants

After transplanting, the plants will need to have consistent soil moisture to nourish them as they start making new roots into their new environment. Depending on the weather, the soil, and the location, this could be daily watering. So for the first few weeks, keep a keen eye on your plants. After that time, keep the plants moist, but not to damp. Once the plants have established, it is better to water heavy and infrequently, this can be achieved but testing the soil, if the soil is damp, then don’t water, if dry then give a big water

When and How To Feed Your Chilli Plants

For the first few weeks feed every week to promote good root growth, and then feed every 2-3 weeks thereafter. For great results we recommend you use a good soluble tomato feed or a special chilli plant feed. Make sure you do not over do it with the feed as you will end up with a plant looking lovely and bushy but with very little fruit!

How To Care For Your Chilli Plants

Once your plants are established and are getting good light, food and water you should end up with a great looking plant which should produce a bounty of chillies. If your plant starts looking a bit sorry for it’s self then check that you are not over watering, the plant is in a good light position and is getting the right amounts of nutrients. Regularly check for pest such as aphids on the underside of the leaves. If the plant is root bound then look to transplant into a bigger pot. Terracotta pots are great for chillies as the pots keep the roots at a even temperature which they like.

Chilli Plant Pest Control

If you are having problems with pests such as aphids on your plants then if you only have one or two then the greenest way of getting rid of the blighter’s is to quash them or brush them of. It is also possible to spray them of with water and a small amount of washing up liquid using a sprayer. If you preferred you can also buy a solution or sprayer from your local garden centre, we have used a solution called SP Plant Invigorator

Overwintering Chilli Plants

Contrary to popular belief it is possible to overwinter chilli plants in UK. Chilli plants are short-lived perennials and can grow for many years if overwintered successfully. Storing chilli plants over winter can give you a great head start for the new growing season, as the chilli plants will quickly produce flower sets early which will give a great head start the next season.

If your plants are positioned in a warm and light position in your home them your plant may well thrive throughout the winter months, much also depends on the winter light levels. Remember, chillies hate frost, one lick of frost and the plant will suffer

Growing Position For Chilli Plants

Chilli growing position

I get asked this question quite often at shows, and the answer depends really on what space you have available. Basically chilli plants like warm, sunny environments but can suffer on very hot window seals in mid summer and could suffer from drooping. I would say that chilli plants are very adaptable to their surrounding environment but do not like extremes, for example chilli plants will not perform great on all window seals which get full sun all day and them at night the temperature drops away significantly, this can cause flower drop, if the flowers drop before being pollinated then no chillies!




Hope this Chilli growing guide has been helpful, any question then please contact us and we will try and answer your questions.

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