We’ve been growing our own chillies from seed for over 35 years. Over the years we’ve grown many chilli varieties at our visitor Greenhouse & Polytunnel so we thought we'd share our hints and tips. This chilli growing guide is here to help you grow your own chillies from seed and to produce healthy, mature chilli plants that produce bigger chilli harvests.
Whether its mild, medium, hot or sweet, there is a variety of chillies perfect for everyone to grow. If you fancy growing chillies indoors then small varieties such as Apache chillies are perfect for growing at home on your windowsill. If you have additional space such as a greenhouse then there is a wide variety of chillies you can grow with a vast array of flavour sensations to tantalise your taste buds.
Chillies require an optimum temperature of 18° to 22° for germination. They also need plenty of bright light.
If you have a heated greenhouse or one of our brilliant HEATED PROPAGATORS, seeds can be sown as early as February but for unheated greenhouses, sowing is best left to late March or early Apri
Our best-selling CHLLIGROW planter can help you to grow huge crops by keeping plants perfectly fed and watered. Chillies can be a little fussy about watering, so these planers are especially beneficial for them!
Chilli plants grow into small or medium sized plants from half a metre to two metres tall. How big they grow depends on the variety, so choose a size that is going to comfortably grow in your space.
The colour and size of the fruit also vary. Although they all start off as green, they can ripen to red, yellow, orange, purple and even brown, again dependant on variety. Chilli varieties are bred from several different capsicum species. The most common include annuum, chinense, baccatum, frutescens and pubescens. Read more in our guide to chilli seed varieties .
Chillies require an optimum temperature of 18° to 22° for germination. .
1) Sow chilli seeds thinly in trays of moist seed compost and place in your progagator / greenhouse.
2) Take care not to over-water as the compost needs to be moist but not soggy.
3) Once the chilli seeds have germinated and grown two true leaves, pot on into 75mm pots or rockwool cubes and grow on in a warm, light space.
4) Once the plants have established a healthy root system, at approximately 25-35cm high, plant out into final position.
The key to growing chillies successfully is to find a sunny, sheltered spot and keep them regularly watered and fed.
Traditionally chilli plants are transferred to larger pots. Chillies hate irregular watering as they are very thirsty - under watering or sporadic watering can easily stop the growth of your chilli plants, however over watering can be just as damaging as your chillies need good access to oxygen by the roots - little and often is the rule here.
Unless you are growing in one of our Chilli Growing kits with our plant nutrients, feed your chillies with a general liquid fertiliser until they are established. Following that use a high potash fertiliser to encourage your chillies to flower and fruit. Keep them weed-free and keep an eye out for the common pests.
Watch our video on how to transplant chillies into larger pots.
What do I need to get growing on?
A large growing container/pot, or one of our clever self watering growing kits. Transfer your best young plants
When your chillies reach about 20cm tall give them some support by staking with a small stake and secure with garden twine. As they get taller swap the small stakes for a larger cane.
To help pollinate your flowers, using a small moist paint brush gently 'paint' the inside of each flower.
If growing in a pot you can usually plant out at the end of May.
One of the most important aspects of growing chillies is getting the watering right, they are very thirsty plants. During hot periods, especially if grown inside a greenhouse, you will need to water regularly, usually twice a day. As dry compost will lead to a check in their growth.
The first flowers will appear when the plants are still quite small. When this happens you will need to start feeding with a liquid fertiliser high in potash, any tomato fertiliser will be fine.
Slugs and Snails
Slugs and snails are the biggest problem for the Chilli grower, usual signs of a slug or snail attack are the usual slime trails, the young branches near the base of the plant have been stripped away overnight or often the centre of the leaves have been munched away.
These prefer dark damp places to live so basic housekeeping such as keep your plants free from any fallen leaves and manually remove any slugs or snails you find. Alternative methods to deter slug and snails include copper tape or rings, or sprinkling egg shells or used coffee grounds round the base of the plant. We use Organic Slug Control Pellets to keep slugs and snails away from our favourite chilli plants.
These can infest you chillies at any time of the season. They look like tiny white flecks usually gathered around the shoot tips, flower buds or young leaves. An easy solution to these pests is to spray your chillies with a very weak soap solution.
Natural predators of the Aphid are lady birds and hover flies, attract these to your garden by planting marigolds and other bright flowers around your chillies. Our Lacewing & Ladybird log is perfect for attracting Lacewing & Ladybird to your growing area and they will they'll repay you by preying on aphids, thrips, red spider mite and moth eggs.
Mould and Rot
If you are growing in pots, do not over crowd the chillies, keep them well ventilated, and water regularly but not too much. Symptoms can include mould on the leaves, soft fruit, and fungus around the stems.
The usual causes of this is over watering or under watering, so if you are growing in any of our Grow Kits you simply will not suffer with any of these problems.
You should have fruit ready to harvest from July to September. Use scissors or a sharp knife. You can pick chillies green or red, however there are some varieties of chilli that will not go red in this climate. You can pick them green and they will turn red but they do wrinkle and dry out, we much prefer to leave them on the plant until they need to be picked.
Before the autumn frosts you will need to harvest the plants, remove the branches and hang them upside down so the fruit continues to mature.
For bigger harvests of your favourite chilli you could overwinter your plant. Overwintering is the practice of providing a protective environment for a plant throughout the winter. The lack of light and the colder temperatures mean that plants don’t grow much at all between October and January, but an overwintered plant can get off to a head start when the light returns in February or March. Watch our video and learn to overwinter your chillies from our planters.
If you would like more information on growing chillies read our chilli growing FAQ or simply have a question you would love answering, our Gardening Angels can help.
Give us a call on 0845 602 3774 or drop us an email at email@example.com.