How to Grow Chillies

Posted by : Mouthburners | Wednesday, August 18, 2010 | Published in

Chillies come in so many different varieties, each with their own little specialised growing tips, but they all seem to follow a very basic set of growing rules that can be used to successfully cultivate healthy plants with a great yield of fruit!



Chilli plants will usually grow as small to medium sized bushes, their dimensions depend on the particular variety.  There are many different species of chillies, the fruits of which vary greatly in size and shape as well as their most prized trait, hotness.

Growing Chillies
Chillies require a warm growing environment, it is generally accepted that plant growth becomes inhibited if the ambient temperatures fall below 15°C.  Ideally warm to hot regions of 28°C and over are the best to grow chillies outdoors, but if you live in a cold region you can still grow indoors or in a greenhouse with excellent results.  If soil conditions are right chillies will grow just as happily in a pot as outdoors in the garden.

Sowing
When growing chillies from seed many people start their seedlings off in trays or small pots before transplanting them into their final position, this works quite well but is not the most ideal for the plant as they apparently don't like to be disturbed too much.  When transplanting wait until the small plants have at least 4 or 5 leaves then try to transplant the majority of soil around the roots with them so as to avoid disturbing them.  The root systems like plenty of room so try to use a medium to large pot for a single plant if potting, or space them out well if planting in the garden.  Chilli plants like full sun and grow best with a lot of sun from morning to early afternoon.

Preferred Soils
Chillies are hardy plants and will grow in a wide variety of soils but you can achieve a much healthier and more productive plant in a well drained fertile medium, especially one that is rich in Phosphorous.  If your soil nutrients are low you should add  fertiliser that has a reasonably high Phosphorous ratio compared to other elements.  In colder climates you may also want to boost the potassium levels a little to assist in water retention by the plants.  Too much Nitrogen in your fertiliser mix can reduce your fruit yields considerably.  To achieve good draining I will usually mix 1/3 ratio of course river sand to a 2/3 potting mix and soil combination.

Plant Care
Chilli plants in well drained soil should be watered about 2-3 times a week and to the point where the soil is damp but not soaked.  Overwatering or leaving in waterlogged soil can rot the roots of your plants.  Use a little mulch laid out to cover the soil in your pot, leaving about a 2cm radius clear around the stem of the plant to avoid rot.  Mulch will improve the soil slightly as the plant grows and will also stop it drying out too quickly.  When the plants are about 20cm in height you can cut off the topmost tip which will stimulate the plant into bushing outwards more.  It is benefecial to support your plant with a slender garden stake incase of a heavy fruit crop, especially in windy conditions as their roots tend to be very shallow.

Harvesting
Depending on variety and conditions most chillies are reasonably quick to flower then fruit.  After you see flowers developing on the plant it will only be a few more weeks till the flowers begin to brown, drop off and the fruits begin to form.  As the plants begin to fruit it is good practice to water in small amounts of organic fertiliser to keep them producing longer.  Try to leave the chillies on the plant for as long as possible to increase the 'hotness' of the fruit, but don't leave them till they shrivel up and dry, your plants actually respond well to regular picking by producing more pods. If you leave the fruit till it dries and shrivels the plants purpose of setting seed is accomplished and the plant will not last much longer or will produce lower yields the next season.

Interesting Notes
Chillies can cross-pollinate if you grow a few different types of chillies in your garden you may end up with a new different and interesting strain to try!

   

Growing chili at Growing Chillies - How To Grow Chili Peppers From SeedGrowing Chilli Plants from seed - The Great Chilli FarmGrowing chili at Chilli FreakGardening Australia - Fact Sheet: ChilliesHow to Grow Chile Peppers | eHow.comHow to grow Chillies - all you need to know about growing Chilliesgrowing chilli peppers thechileman.orgGardening For Beginners: How to grow chili

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