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5 Chilli Pepper Growing Tips

With the new years (and chilli growing season) ahead of us we thought we’d post some simply tips to help your chilli growing efforts this year.

Start Growing Early

Growing chillies in the relatively cool climate of the Europe (the same for North America) generally means that the time your plants have to fruit is much less than the chillies native climate in South America or Asia. The more heat and sun chilli plants receive, the more chillies they will produce. Here in the UK we obviously get less heat and sun than somewhere like say India, therefore we get less chillies too.

The best way to increase your chilli harvest is to start growing earlier. If you haven’t overwintered any chilli plants from last year then the easiest way to do this is to start thinking about getting some seeds planted now. By planting chilli seeds now you’ll have much more developed plants when the weather starts improving in the Spring meaning they will start fruiting much earlier.

Plan Ahead (Mainly Space!)

One of the most common problems we see year after year among chilli growers is them running out of space some the summer when their plants suddenly start to increase in size dramatically. It can be very easy to plant hundreds of seeds in early spring then not have the heart to cull the weak ones meaning you end up with way too many plants.

Take time to plan which varieties you want to grow this year and realistically how many fully grown plants you can accommodate. When working out exactly how many seeds to plant be sure to factor in giving some plants away to friends in the spring. Also you may lose some due to poor weather, pests or disease to i’d advise to plant slightly more than you think you’ll need.

Grow a variety of Chillies

As mentioned above it is much more fun to grow a number of different varieties. Different varieties have vastly different tastes, growing habits and behaviors so be sure not to just stick to one variety.

I generally always grow many of the easier varieties (such as Apache, Jalapeno, Cheyenne) while at the same time experimenting with some of the rarer or harder to grow varieties. A great way to get a good selection of varieties is to buy a seed multi pack.

Keep a log

One of the things we have learned over the years growing chillies is how useful keeping a log of your chilli growing can be. I keep a simply log of all of the chillies I grow. I maintain this in a spreadsheet however a simple notebook would suffice. Typical things i record are:

  • No of Seeds Planted
  • Potting Medium
  • Source of Seeds
  • Germination Rates
  • Lighting used (if any)
  • First flowering date
  • First Fruit Date
  • Rough indication of yield
  • Notes on any pests/diseases

Doing the above helps me avoid making the same mistakes i’ve made in the past. At the end of the season I can reflect on which plants did well (and which didn’t) and figure out why some fared better than others.

Learn From Other Peoples Mistakes

The great thing about running thechilliking.com is the great community of fellow chilli lovers that are willing to share their advice and knowledge.

Do you have any other tips you’d like to share? If so please feel free to add a comment below.

7 comments… add one
  • Jo June 30, 2010, 7:24 pm

    I have grown some ring of fire and Jalapeno plants both from seed, started at the end of February, indoors in a warm room with natural light. The plants are a good colour with plenty of leaves and look healthy. None of them are showing any signs of flowering yet. Is this usual or am I being impatient? thanks Jo
    ps i’m new to this.

    • The Chilli King June 30, 2010, 11:02 pm

      Jo – I think you just need a little more patience. Mine only started to flower about 1 week ago. If indoors try to make sure they are on a south facing window to get as much light as possible. You should hopefully see some action in the next couple of weeks!

  • Nick Bright June 25, 2010, 8:09 am

    Hi there.

    I have grown some Numex Twilight chilli and although it has 5-6 chillies growing on it, the leaves are not as dark green as I was expecting them to be. They’re more of a pale yellow green.

    Woudl you have any ideas why this mightbe ?

    Many thanks for your tips

    • The Chilli King June 25, 2010, 8:54 am

      Nick Bright – Pale leaves can be a sign of ether under or over watering or lack of nutrients. Assuming your watering is ok the most likely way to solve the problem is to feed the plants. You can use chilli focus or regular tomato feed.

      • Nick Bright June 27, 2010, 9:32 pm

        Excellent, i’ll give that a go – I have some tomato food…


  • Paul March 3, 2010, 3:00 pm

    I\’m very excited about this year\’s chillies – I started my seeds off in the airing cupboard three weeks ago and got 21 plants from 30 seeds. I started out with 6 seeds of each of the following – Bhut Jolokia (from CPI), Trinidad Scorpion, Numex Twilight, Ring of Fire and Pinocchio\’s Nose. All the Ring of Fire\’s came up, 3 of the Bhut Jolokia, 5 of the Pinocchio\’s Nose, 4 of the Numex Twilight and 3 Trinidad Scorpions. They are currently in peat pots but once the second set of leaves have sprouted they\’ll be going into proper pots. I\’ve never tried to grow chillies of the ferocity of the Bhut or Scorpion before, so am looking forward to seeing what I can do this year. I had a new conservatory built last year which gets roasting in the summer so I\’m hoping that will help the fruit become nice and hot. I\’ve taken pictures and as the King says, I\’m recording exactly what I do this year to see if it helps in the future.

    Anyone got any particular tips for hand pollinating? I have tried a wet paint brush in previous years with mixed success. Also, my chilli plants always have loads of flowers, but some do drop off without ever setting fruit. Any ideas why?

    • the king March 3, 2010, 3:30 pm

      Paul – sounds like you are well set up for a good season!

      Hand Pollinating Chillies – In the past i used to use a cotton bud (dry) however last year i often just used my little finger and had good success. I suspect the pollen would stick to a wet brush, meaning it doesn’t get transferred between the flowers which could explain the flower drop in the past. I’d say use a dry brush or your pinky this year!

      Good luck with the conservatory – just be sure to not let them get too hot when (IF) the good weather ever graces us again!

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