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Looking After Chilli Seedlings

Disaster has struck. Yesterday morning i forgot to take the propagator lid off one tray of chillies that were on the conservatory window sill.  I got home and discovered that the seedlings that had germinated had been frazzled by the heat. The conservatory itself got up over 35 degrees so it must have been even hotter in the propagator!

Scorched Chilli Seedlings

I’ve been keeping the lid on the prop at night to help keep the seeds that have yet to germinate warm at night.

Now i have several trays of chillies either germinating or in very early stages of growth it got me thinking about how vulnerable they are at this stage of growth. I tend to check on them at least twice a day to pick up on any issues as soon as possible and as you can see above this is often not enough!

Here’s a list of things to look out for:

Indoor Temperatures

In Spring time the weather can be very changeable. As i mentioned above I got caught out  by what turned out to be a sunny warm day, even though it was quite cool when i left the house in the morning.  After a long cold winter it is easy  to forget how hot it can get in a greenhouse, conservatory of windowsill when the spring sun finally gets going.

In my conservatory I tend to close lots of the blinds if it looks like being a sunny day to help keep the temperature down a bit.

In the greenhouse it is essential to fit auto vents that open via solar power automatically when the desired temperature is reached.

Night Time Temperatures

Warm sunny days are often followed by cold nights. It’s well worth investing in a simple min/max thermometer so you can keep an eye on night time temperatures (and daytime temperatures if you’re out of the house!). I aim to keep my chilli seedlings at no less than 15 degrees at night to ensure steady growth. I’ll move the thermometer around between my light box, window sill etc so none of my crop get too chilly.

Moisture Levels

Young seedlings are much more susceptible to all issues to do with watering. Add in to the mix that your seedlings may be in small seed cells or trays while being under artificial lights or a propagator and they can suddenly be more vulnerable to over and under watering.

In hot conditions small seed cells can dry out very quickly so aim to check the moisture levels at least twice a day. Pouring water onto such small quantities of compost can water log them increasing the chances of rot/fungus. Instead i always try to spray water using a basic hand sprayer at regular intervals.

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