A guide to growing chilli plants – part 2
“Potting on” your Chilli Seedlings
When your seedlings have several sets of leaves, you need to move or “prick out” the seedlings to a deeper individual 75mm pot and then plant on into bigger pots as required. A standard progression in pot size is 75mm, 150mm and then the final 200mm version. Firstly you need to fill the new containers with moistened compost, make a hole of the right depth for your seedling to sit into. Lift the tiny plants carefully with the help of a pencil pushed from the underside of the tray through the drainage hole. The less the roots are disturbed, the better.
Lower each plant into the hole you’ve made and plant it deeper in its new home. Chilli peppers (unlike other plants) will make new roots along their buried stems, so if your seedlings are leggy, you can transplant them so that their stems are covered by the soil up to the base of the bottom cluster of leaves. Gently firm the soil around the transplants and water carefully.
Once your plants set fruit, start feeding once or twice a week with a good all-purpose liquid fertiliser such as Miracle-Gro, diluted half-strength. Once they are in bigger pots you can fertilise every day with diluted feed and make sure to use some gravel or pebbles in the bottom of the final pot, for drainage.
When Chilli Plants begin to Flower
As your chilli plants begin to grow you will notice flowers appearing on your plants. This is the sign you have been waiting for as it means that your first chillies are not that far off. All that stands between you and fresh chilli pods is pollination.
Please be aware that as was the case with germination if you are growing cayenne peppers the plants will flower and fruit much earlier than varieties such as habanero, scotch bonnet or naga. These slower varieties require much more heat and our best kept in a conservatory or greenhouse to ensure they fruit as soon as possible.
Pollination will be taken care of naturally by bees and other insects if you plants are kept outside. If grown inside you may want to consider self pollination. All you need to do is wait until you have a few flowers on your plants then lightly rub your little finger inside the flower heads on your plants. Alternatively use a small artists paint brush or a cotton bud. This will do the bees’ job of moving pollen around from flower to flower.
Please let us know what you think, if you have any tricks, hints or tips, you’d like to see included and remember – have fun!