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Should I pinch out the flowers on my chilli plant?

We receive so many questions from eager chilli growers we thought it is a shame to waste all of the replies we send back. So….from now on we’ll start posting questions sent in by readers along with the replies we send back. Hopefully by doing this we’ll share the love a bit and help other chill heads out there.


I have a chilli plant in it’s first season, and there are five chillies that have started to sprout (0.5-1.0 cm).  But there are lots of other flowers and buds following on behind. So, can a plant have too much fruit? Am I best to pinch out a few flowers to concentrate the growing energy to a smaller crop? I am in Aberdeen, Scotland, and we don’t get a great long growing season, so my chillies rarely turn all red.


Well as a general rule I avoid pinching out flowers and prefer to let the plants do their own thing. That said there are a number of different ways you can help increase your chilli pepper yield.

One way you can help your plants is to use a feed in order to help growth and development. In early summer i start feeding my chilli plants with regular liquid tomato feed, diluted to about half the recommended dose. I water most days and apply feed once (sometimes twice) per week. Faster growth should allow the plant more time to mature the fruit it produces.

As you are growing your plants up in Scotland you are facing pretty cool conditions. Obviously you should try to maximise the light and heat the plants get by growing in a (heated) greenhouse if possible. If you’re growing outside and don’t have a greenhouse it may be worth buying some small plastic cloches to help keep the plants warm.

Finally as you mention the other remaining option is to pinch out a few of the flowers to concentrate the plants energies on fewer pods. In my opinion I’d only do this if the plant has set lots of fruit and by mid-late summer you really don’t think they are all going to ripen.

8 comments… add one
  • nick May 8, 2012, 10:18 pm

    Hey. When is the right time to pinch a plant? I have many pepper types in the mix right now and am reading a lot on pinching, but there is nothing to say WHEN to pinch first. How big does the plant have to be? The biggest one I have now is about 9 inches tall with many true leaves. Should I pinch it now and hope it keeps goin? help!!

    • The Chilli King May 18, 2012, 11:37 am

      nick – i only really tend to pinch out if the plants are looking a little spindly or leggy.

  • Ged June 2, 2011, 7:25 pm

    Hello again,thanks for the advice re the coolshade on my greenhouse.I think I will remove it gradually over the next week or so that way the plants should be able to aclimatise themselves .once again many thanks for your input

  • Steve May 29, 2011, 8:12 pm

    My hot chocolate habanero has a huge amount of buds, flowers and pods. It is doing really well after the early sun and heat this year. The only problem is the pods are getting to the size of a large pea and not developing further, even the first ones to come out have changed chocolate colour but no bigger. What can I do to help them on??

  • Ged May 28, 2011, 5:44 pm

    Hi,I am currently growing bhut jalokia,African devil,habaneros and jalapeño varieties in a heated greenhouse.when the plants were small they got a little bit of scorching damage from the sun so I applied some White cool shade to the greenhouse glass,my question to you is should I leave the coolshade on now that the plants are well established or should I wipe it off allowing the plants full sunlight.many thanks.

    • The Chilli King June 1, 2011, 11:03 am

      Ged – I’d be inclined to take it off but keep a close eye on the weather and see how they react now they are a bit more established.

  • Ben May 27, 2011, 11:47 am

    If my plants are smaller than a foot tall I pinch out any flowers that form until the plant is larger.

    That is unless it’s a bushy type plant.

  • Guido May 26, 2011, 12:04 pm

    Verry intresting.question. I’m also a beginner in chilli plants.
    I discovered that on of my plants already has flowers. They are only 10 cm and are in small plant pots. Is this too early, shouldn’t the chilliplant be bigger?

    I’ll try to follow your tips ‘n tricks to see If I can speedup the growth.

    Kind regards

    A chilli lover from Denmark!

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