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Growing Chilli2019-02-20T19:29:05+00:00

Sowing Seeds

In the UK, we normally sow seeds around February. Some people, however, sow around December to give the plants a good head start for the next coming season. At Henry’s, we mainly sow seeds during February and no later than March. There is a great variance in the number of days taken for a particular variety to reach maturity. Varieties such as Habaneros take 100 or more days (3 1/2 months) from potting to reach maturity. Some can produce ripe fruit in 60 days from sowing and others take as long as 120 days, especially the super hot ones that we all know and love.

There are three ways that we have sown seeds, and found great success with all techniques.

  1. Use a damp piece of kitchen paper and keep the kitchen towel moist and warm by using an airing cupboard. Once the seeds have germinated they need to be potted. This is a fiddly way of sowing but it allows you to see how the seeds are progressing.

  2. Put the seeds straight into a soil based compost and water lightly as needed.

    This can be achieved in a heated propagator or any container with drainage holes. Pop it in an airing cupboard to keep warm.

  3. Thirdly; Rock wool. This is our favourite method of sowing seeds. Soak the cubes in water and allow draining. Then poke a hole in the middle and pop a seed in. pinch the top over and place in a heated propagator.

Germination

In order to achieve good germination and speedy rates of growth, we recommend a thermostatically controlled grow. This is best achieved in a heated propagator. The best temperature for sowing seeds is 27° to 32°.
You can germinate seeds as low as 21° but should be avoided to see optimum results.

Watering

It’s best to surface water when germinating or when dealing with seedlings. You can do this with a spray bottle. We find it’s best to do this because it has a much lower impact on the temperature of the compost. Always allow to dry out between watering and don’t make them swim. For growing, we recommend that you use soil-based seed and potting composts. This way, you should have a good amount of drainage. Your chillies will really appreciate this.

After Germination

After the seeds have germinated they can be potted. For this, we advise a 3-inch pot.
This is ideal when using rock wool as you won’t disturb the roots by pricking out.
Now they should be moved to a sunny windowsill or ideally under a grow light. If you’re moving outside, you should have some kind of heat source. At this stage keep the soil warm, moist and well ventilated. If growing inside it’s a good idea to have a small fan on a low setting for a couple of hours a day. This will simulate a breeze and strengthen the stems on the plants.

Re-Potting

When the plants are about 5 to 6 inches tall or have about 5 pairs of leaves, it’s a good idea to re-pot them into a bigger pot. At this stage, you can move on to 9-12 inch pots. Include in your potting mix some coco coir perlite and
Vermiculite with some soil in your compost.
When they are ready to go out to your greenhouse you will need to provide some shade for the young plants for a while.
This will save them from being scorched by the sun. Don’t forget your plants get bigger you will need to support them with either canes or a cage. This will prevent them toppling or snapping as they get bigger.

Feeding Your Plants

Be careful not to feed your plants too much nitrogen, the reason for this is they will grow in size but not develop any pods. The best feeds We’ve found were a good seaweed multipurpose feed, Epsom salts and eco charge as a top dressing.

Achieving Fruit Growth

If you can, aim to keep your plants below 36°. Keep on top of your watering but let your plants dry out in-between watering.
See what routine works for your grow medium. This should help along with the feeding to prevent blossom drop or even worse, fruit drop. If you do get fruit drop it can be a number of factors. Firstly it can be a lack of humidity in your Polly tunnel or greenhouse. If this is the case use a water mister to give them a gentle spray. It works best to do this at the end of the night or early evening so the plant can absorb what it needs and not battle against the heat of the sun. A lack of feed could be another factor so have a look at your feeding routine.
Giving the plants a gentle shake to get the pollen won’t hurt either in order to get the flowers to set.

Fruit Picking

​Different varieties are picked at different stages of their development. Fruits that start yellow or green generally ripen to red, though green chillies will sometimes ripen to orange or yellow. It all depends on the variety. Usually, and regardless of the colour once they have filled out and become firm crisp and glossy they can be picked. It’s all down to you. Try experimenting by picking one to see if it has all of its heat and flavour. The sooner you pick, the more the plant will produce so even if you don’t need them at the time you should pick them and keep them in the freezer until you do.

Winter

Most chilli plants can be treated as perennial house plants but will need some pruning in the winter.
Cut them back slowly as the season comes to an end. Then you can remove the plant from the pot and trim the roots to encourage fresh root growth for next season when re-potted. They won’t need to be watered much as will go into a dormant state but will need lots of warmth.

From All Of Us At Henry’s, Happy Growing!