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Potting on Chillies: Does Pot Size Matter?

We’ve had a lot of questions from readers about if and when they should pot on their chilli plants and what pot sizes to use. This is a hard question to answer as much will depend on the stage of development of your plants and the condition they are grown in.

Many of our readers seem to be planting their chilli seeds in communal containers such as window boxes or large planters. While this is great for saving space during the germination and seedling stages it can cause problems later on. If left too long, the plants roots become entangled and when the plants need separating into larger pots you can run the risk of damaging plants. As a result panting chillies in single pots is best.

As I mention in my recent post about potting on I tend to pot my plants on every few weeks when the roots become visible out of the bottom of the pot. During a season i usually pot on about 4 times, gradually increasing the pot size up to about a maximum of 10-12″ depending on the variety.

Potting On Experiment

While the above potting on routine seems to have worked for me in the past, I’m not too sure if something else would work better to i’ve decided to run a  little experiment. I have taken 6 Cayenne plants, all the same size (roughly 15″ in height) that until now have been in 6″ pots. I will leave two in the same pots and have potted two into 82″ pots and two into 10″ pots and see how they fair in different pots.

Chilli Plant Pot Size Experiment

I’ve heard one theory that states that potting into too large pots means the plant wastes energy decveloping it’s root system instead of flowering and producing chillies. Conversely other wisdom states that leaving in too small pots won’t allow the plant space to develop and produce to it’s full potential.

All0f the plants are the same size at the minute and none are flowering quite yet so I think now is the perfect time to run this test.

I’ll keep all six plants in the same conditions (in a conservatory that receives a good amount of light and has a small heater for chilly nights) and see how their growth is affected by their pot size. Of course not only with the rate of growth be interesting but the yield of Cayenne peppers I get form them. I’ll report back later in the season with the results!

Do you have any tips or interesting ideas about pot sizes for peppers? If so leave a comment below.

9 comments… add one
  • Peter April 20, 2011, 10:00 am

    i read with interest about the “planting on” I have had a life long interest in Chillis and decided I would try and make some money growing I live in the south of Spain and so have an Ideal climate for chillis, the problem has been the soil as it is very heavy and does not drain very well, So I decided i would plant some in the ground having mulched heavily and some along side in pots, having raised about a thousand plants from seed in plugs I found that the plugs came to a point where they stopped growing after inspecting the root system I did not find them pot bound, I immediatly planted some up into 3 inch pots, and they out grew the plugs within a week I had a noticable difference, I agree with keds comments of last year, This was due to fresh nutrients in the compost, Based on this I was planning to continue potting on regularly but having read the chilli Kings comments I will try to get up to about 8 to 10 inch potts and increase the feeding as fot the ones I have in the ground i would be interested in any experience people have had regarding the life cycle of thier plants, Great forum hope it keeps going. Cheers,

  • Ciaran August 14, 2010, 4:46 pm

    I think we are all excited to hear an update. I’ve been potting on as well but the weather has been holding me back badly in Belfast so the results to date are poor.

  • Julie August 12, 2010, 6:42 pm


    Found this site on a search engine and have really enjoyed reading through your articles. I’m growing a few different types of Chillies in my conservatory this year and I ended up with far more plants from seed than I was expecting…I didn’t expect such a high success rate! I decided to repot the best couple of each types into large pots but couldn’t bare to destroy the plants which I couldn’t rehome so left them in there smaller pots. Now i’ve found the plants in the large pots are more bigger but those in the small ones have far more Chillies per plant and the Chillies are bigger….

    I was wondering if the larger plants will catch up or whether they’ve put too much of their energy into their roots? Should I now re-pot the smaller ones or will it be too much of a shock now they’ve got lots of fruit?



    • The Chilli King August 16, 2010, 10:47 am

      July – Glad you enjoy the site! I to have found that the smaller pots have produced a higher yields. I wouldn’t bother re-potting now, just accept the lower yields and mark it down as a lesson learned for next year!

  • Jack August 10, 2010, 3:20 pm

    Its been about 6/7 weeks now since you re-potted your cayennes into different size pots, whats the results?, which is looking the tallest?Great experiment!

  • Ked July 13, 2010, 12:29 am

    I’ve found that since germination I’ve ended up potting on about every 6 weeks, which is when the roots start to poke out of the bottom of whichever pot they are in. This goes for both the chinense and annums I’ve got on the go.

    Since February my chillis have gone from:

    1) Individual pods in a 40 pod seed tray
    2) 6 inch pots
    3) 9 inch (5 litre) pots
    4) 12 inch (10 litre) pots

    I have a Dorset naga that has torn ahead and I’ve just repotted it in to a 20 Litre pot that I got from a local hydroponics shop as an experiment. In the past week it has accellerated even further!

    I’m finding that after each repotting, the chillis go through a marked growth spurt. I put this down to a combo of extra root space and fresh nutrients in the new compost.

    I’ve left some chillis behind in smaller pots and after just 1 week, the repotted chillis have rapidly outpaced them.

    I’ve been feeding them with a foliar spray of Wilkinsons organic seaweed extract and they have responded well to this. I just got my hands on some Chilli Focus and I’m going to be using that from now on.

    @ Baron – Home grown hot sauce is my aim too, I’ve got all kinds of herbs, tomatoes, corgette aubergine etc that are going to go in to a 100% garden grown concoction 🙂

  • BARON PETER DIXON June 29, 2010, 8:28 pm

    its all about the heat and the feeding u need at least 25 c 2 get a good chilli i have over 5o chilli plants on the go usualy as well as lots of other veg mosly in green houses and in well treated soil iv grown some realy hot birds eye chillies that amazed me and sum good nargra but these r very difficult 2 grow from seed but it is good fun as r cuccumbers its allabout making a good hot sauce having grown everything that goes in it good luck

  • Gazza June 23, 2010, 8:29 pm

    I have done the same with a different chillie but also put some outside some inside and one in a pot full of grow bag soil
    we will see!!!!

    • The Chilli King June 24, 2010, 9:29 am

      Gazza – Great, be sure to let us know how you get on!

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