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.