“It’s meaning is cold, but it’s spicy, this chilly
Words can mean nothing, and everything, silly”
Related Topics: How to Grow, Growing Organically & The Art of Propagation!
Chillies are fruiting veggies that are mostly used as seasoning in Indian cooking. It’s great fun to grow chillies as there are so many varieties available in the market. Some are used in food preparation, others are ornamental, some are sweet and others are hot, and you get them in reds, oranges, greens, yellows and blacks!
SEASONS: This is a perennial plant in the tropics, and a seasonal in temperate zones. It prefers a humid climate at early growth and a dry climate at maturity (flower and fruit production). It grows in temperatures between 10 and 35 degrees Celsius only.
PROPAGATING: Chillies are easily propagated by seed. Buy chilly seeds from your garden shop, or prepare your chilly seeds from scratch. Take a fully ripened chilly and dry it thoroughly in the sun. This may take a few days. Alternatively, use dried chillies of your choice that are often available in the grocery store. Open carefully and collect the seeds, storing in a cool, dark place.
GERMINATING: Germinate your chilly seeds in January/February or July/August so it gets the benefit of the upcoming hot and dry summers for fruit production. Chilly seeds are best germinated in germination dishes/seeding baskets prepared with a mixture of compost and peat moss. Seeds can be shown in shallow, 1/4 inch deep holes or scattered on the surface with a sprinkling of soil above. Place in semi-shade and spray water evenly. Spray your sown seeds daily until seedlings emerge in 5-7 days.
PLANTING OUT: Your chilly saplings will be ready for transplanting after 2 weeks of growth when their stems are sturdy and the first true leaves appear. Transplant to well-drained, well-composted soil at a distance of at least 18 inches between saplings to allow space for growth. Chillies are not fussy about soil type and will grow in slightly acidic, neutral and slightly alkaline soils as long as drainage and aeration is good. Chillies are well suited to container growing but will also grow on open plots. If using containers, opt for a medium to large size container as chilly plants need plenty of root space.
NURTURING: Place mulch around the soil to reduce evaporation and water each day, preferably in the mornings. The chilly plant is prone to verticilium wilt, white fly disease and fungus from over exposure to water and humidity. For that reason, virgin soil was recommended for growing it, with a strong dose of organic supplements like wood ash powder and neem leaf powder in your soil mix, to prevent soil-borne diseases. It’s also a good idea to protect your chilly plants from the over-exuberant rains and flooding of our Mumbai monsoons to prevent fungus growth. If well-nurtured, your chilly plant will grow swiftly and start producing fruit after about 2 months. A chilly plant in flower is a thing of beauty, and chillies will grow out of every flower in a matter of days. Prune your plant regularly to encourage growth of new stems and more flowers. If your chilly plant should succumb to disease, and seem to do so overnight (usually because of verticilium wilt or white flies), then uproot entirely and destroy. Do not compost.
HARVESTING: Harvest your chillies as soon as they grow to fullness. This is a bountifully producing plant and each healthy plant will give you hundreds of chillies. It will produce season after season so take good care of it and you will never need to buy chillies from the market again!
Plump and pungent chillies, ready for harvest
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Hey…Very very useful posts..appreciate the efforts taken!
My chili plant has not grown much over the past 3-4 months! It is not sturdy, but is surely not unhealthy. The leaves are lush green and stand up well. Does the plant need more than 4 hours of sun or lots of it?
Hi Suma…if the plant is looking healthy it probably is 🙂 Typically, fruiting plants need 6-8 hours of sunlight. But four hours may work if it’s strong and not dappled.
Hi Mandy! Love your blog 🙂
My chili plants typically stop growing after I transplant the saplings (grown from seeds). They don’t die, but neither grow any further than the sapling stage. Any suggestions on what could be the issue or something I could try to remedy it? First I wondered if soil was the issue – so I transplants remaining saplings into other, different soil. But the result was the same – plants stuck at the sapling stage. Pls help!
Thank you 🙂
Saplings will grow. They cannot remain stunted 🙂 Ensure that your plants receive full sun (chilli is a sun lover), is not overwatered and the soil drains well (it will die in wet, clayey surroundings) and plant it in hardy soil (less compost, more plain soil and a dash of gobar or bonemeal if you like).
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Thank you SOOOOO much 🙂 I think I have enthusiastically added a bit more cocopeat than necessary. I will use a chopstick to aerate the soil a bit. Also, the sun’s hardly been out this week, so that’s probably a reason too. Thank you 🙂
Very informative blog
Please share information on the different varieties of heirloom seeds of veggies which can be grown in containers after monsoons in Mumbai
Hi there Someone…container farming embraces all veggies, heirloom or otherwise, that can be accommodated in a confined space and grow with sunshine, water and nutrients. Info on growing according to Mumbai’s seasons is already mentioned in the WHEN TO GROW section. Good luck!
Hi, I am big fan of yours! I have just bought a chilli plant. How should I prune it after it produces the first round of chillies? Should I cut of the secondary stems? Please help! Thanks in advance.
P.S. It would also be great if you can tell me the same about tomatoes.
Hi there, thanks for the kind words! I must confess I follow the lazy gardener routine and never prune my chilli plants. Why bother if they are happy and giving me lots of chillies, right?! Just give them good sun, well-draining soil and let them do their thing, is what I’d say 🙂 Not the same story for tomatoes though. Regular pruning of secondary stems is a good idea to get bigger tomatoes and more even growth of the bush.
Please guide how to prune chilly plant for encouraging growth
Hi Radha, thanks for writing in! Frankly, I don’t bother much with pruning chilly plants as though it is a perennial, when you grow it in a container as I do, they usually don’t last beyond a year. Within that one year, the chilly plant will usually be abundant enough for me and I’ve never needed to prune it back. I may trim some branches from time to time to cut back dry leaves and stems or to balance out the proportion and shape of the bush. Other than that, I really don’t think pruning of short life plants, like container grown chillies, is required.
I sowed chilli plant by using dry red chillies in a pot.(14 to 16 inch)..may be kashmiri as per the grocer..
The plant has grown approx 8 to 10 inches in height.
But I observe the leaves curled up..
Can I share the pics with you for better guidance.
Sure. Chilly plants of all types are prone to leaf curl. This is usually caused by a virus that is transmitted by whiteflies. Unfortunately there is no cure for this disease. The best bet is to prevent infection by spraying leaves (especially undersides) with neem oil and controlling weeds in the vicinity (as weeds tend to host whiteflies).