We all have come to love the hot, spicy taste of chillies. In the past, they were reserved for hot sauce and ethnic dishes, but they have gained a lot of popularity amongst home gardeners. Their spicy, yet delicious taste is undeniably loved by all and they are used in a variety of dishes. From ethnic foods to home-cooked spicy pizzas on a pizza stone.
There are numerous varieties of chillies, each one packed with mouth-watering flavours. Moreover, their bright and attractive colours add life to any garden out there. Growing chillies indoors is not really hard. Even if you are a novice gardener, you can successfully do it. Let’s take a detailed look at growing chillies on your own like a pro!
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Which chillies are the best to grow and what varieties are there?
If you grow your own chillies, you will be able to choose between various colours, shapes, flavours, levels of heat (depending on the capsaicin), etc. – a much larger variety compared to the one available at the local supermarket. You can easily grow chillies in larger pots indoors. Plus, once you have started them indoors, you can easily transplant them outdoors in a warm, sunny spot!
With so many hot peppers out there such as Hungarian hot wax, cayenne, etc. which one will you choose for growing in your home garden? Well, this depends on your taste and choices. All of the chillies are easy to grow and maintain and have different uses. Some of the common varieties of chillies that home gardeners around the world grow are:
When you are considering indoor chilli plant varieties, this one is among the best. This small plant will give you small, red peppers. It doesn’t need loads of light and can grow easily in small individual pots. It is bushy and it rarely grows beyond half a meter in length in one growing season.
2. Poinsettia Chilli Peppers
These are red chillies that look like Christmas stars when they are fully ripe. They not only look great but taste great as well. With each passing year, this plant will give more than the year below. It dies after 3 to 4 years though. It has moderate heat and is perfect for use in salads as seasoning.
Mirasol grows upwards towards the sun and doesn’t grow more than 60 cm in length. They form thin chillies that are almost 5 cm long. They are compact and have a mild to medium spice level.
4. Prairie Fire
This is perhaps one of the smallest chilli plants and is great for your home. As a home grower, you will love their bright colours. Green, orange, yellow, purple, etc. They are very sharp and spicy though!
5. Etna Chilli
Etna chillies look great when they ripen and are a sight to behold. With their green, red, and yellow colours, these chillies are perfect for indoor sowing as they are compact and small in size.
6. Habanero Cristina
With high levels of heat, habanero peppers are short & squat. These cream-coloured chillies have a bushy growth and are usually 0.8 meters high.
7. Macho Peppers
These chillies ripen to bright violet colour. They only need a couple of hours of sunshine and look extremely pretty.
These are long, thin chillies and have a medium to a high degree of spiciness on the Scoville scale. They can gain a height of almost 0.8 m and are relatively easy to grow. Cayenne pods taste amazing, both fresh and dried.
Tabasco chillies are pointy and short. They also have a medium to a high level of heat.
We all love Jalapeno peppers. They are short with a slight taper. They have a medium to a high degree of spiciness.
These are long, tapered peppers with a medium to a mild degree of spiciness.
12. Ghost Pepper Plants
Extremely hot, the ghost peppers are short & squat and are highly spicy.
Things you need to know about chillies before starting
Chillies are ideal container plants that not only taste great but look amazing as well. Before you start growing them, there are a few things that you need to know.
At all growing stages, warmth is the key. Therefore, you need to keep the chillies warm, using a grow light for example. The minimum temperature that the seeds need to germinate is at least 25 degrees. With chillies, you have to water the plants sparingly.
To make the plant bushier, you should pinch out the early shoots and the main stem. Chilli peppers grow perfectly when they are planted in warm, rich soil which makes fruiting a walk in the park. Exposure to extremely cold temperatures will prevent the plants from blooming, which will delay the production of peppers. The hotter your peppers are, the longer their growing period will be.
Location for Growing Chilli Pepper Plants
For growing the best chillies, you need to choose a location that will get ample sunlight as chillies love warmth and light. Indoor chillies don’t need direct sunlight but will need indirect light for 6 hours a day at least.
Watering the Chillies
Watering your plants the right way is one of the most essential things! A general rule when it comes to this one? Don’t overwater your chillies. You need to keep the soil moist and well-drained to grow them perfectly. Initially, you will have to water regularly, but once the peppers start to grow, you will have to reduce the amount of water. However, you shouldn’t let the soil dry out.
Fertilizing the Peppers
To get the best peppers, you will have to fertilize them. You can use homemade seed compost, plant food or get commercial fertiliser if you want to. Work the fertilizer in the soil thoroughly before you plant your chillies.
Grow your own chillies step-by-step
Now comes the most important part – growing your own chillies. Don’t worry! We are here to help you with every step of the process!
1. Fill the Pot with Soil
The first thing that you have to do is fill the seed starter cell with soil. Chilli seeds don’t have to be planted very deep. Also, you should get rich, soil-based compost with prunes, potash, etc. Since chillies will require good drainage, use a potting mix that contains perlite or vermiculite. The good thing is that you can plant yours any time of the year (as the pot will stay indoors).
2. Plant a few Seeds
In the seed starter cell, sprinkle a few seeds – two or three – onto the soil. Sow seeds and cover them with compost or potting soil. Water the soil after you have planted the seeds. This will encourage germination. Keep the soil moist, but don’t make it too soggy. The seeds will germinate in about two to four weeks and then you can repot them if you want.
3. Cover the Pot
Once you have planted the seeds, you should cover the seed starter. This will keep both the heat and moisture in, which will help in germination. You can cover the pot with a clear plastic bag or a plastic lid. It is not necessary that you cover the small pot, but it will reduce the need for watering again and again.
4. Give Proper Light
While your chilli seeds are germinating, it is highly important that you keep them in a sheltered spot – someplace that is dark but does get some filtered light. Make sure that the temperature stays around 18 degrees Celsius. Keep the chilli seeds here until they start sprouting. Once the seeds start to sprout, move them to a sunny windowsill and remove the plastic bag that was covering the pot. Keep the pot in a place with plenty of indirect light. The young plants will require a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight. If there is no sunny windowsill in your home, you can use artificial lights such as fluorescent plant grow lights to help them grow.
Some of the most common problems
Unfortunately, there are various diseases as well as pests that can damage your pepper plants.
1. Plant Diseases
Blossom End Rot
If you expose your plants to high temperatures, water them irregularly or keep overwatering them, and if the levels of calcium are extremely low, then your chillies will be affected by blossom end rot.
Another disease that your peppers can suffer from is root knot. As the name of the disease suggests, the plant’s roots become knotted. This leads to wilting & nutritional deficiencies.
Pests such as leafhoppers, whiteflies, thrips, aphids, etc. can affect these plants. The pests will not only eat the leaves but will also infect them which will damage the entire plant over time. Aphids cause spotting and are present on the underside of the leaves.
Whiteflies and leafhoppers also cause spotting. They reduce the growth of the plant. If you notice any pests on your plants, remove them as quickly as you can. If your plant is heavily infected, remove the pot before the rest of your chilli pepper plants can be affected.
What about harvesting?
When the peppers become bright and shiny, it is time for you to harvest them! A chilli plant matures in almost 3 months. The shapes and sizes of the first fruit will depend on the type of the variety that you planted. Harvest them by cutting the stem right above the fruit with the help of a knife or scissors. Wear gloves when you are harvesting chillies as they might produce hot, spicy oils. The more peppers you pick off the plant, the more peppers it will produce next year. If you want to, you can pick the chillies when they are green (mild-flavoured) or when they are red (strong & hot). You can also use the potted chillies for transplanting once they are harvested.
Love the flavour and spiciness of chillies? Why not plant them indoors and enjoy the way they taste and look? With so many flavours, shapes, and sizes, you can choose any plant that tickles your fancy. Follow the above-mentioned tips and successfully cultivate homegrown chillies easily!