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How do you grow chilli plants?

Chilli.jpegChillies can handle heat fairly well and are less thirsty than most. Cold and Aphids are the biggest problems I have found. Some people work on a theory that if you stress the plant by withholding water you get more heat. Not for me. Powerfeed and Seasol have given me healthy plants till I tried the superhots which are more temperamental.

 

I have found Jalapeno winter well, Habanero did to a point, Cayenne still going but Indian ones have not done so well. - Brad

 

Chillies are heavy feeders, the more fertilizer, the healthier plants, the hotter fruits. They are not hard to grow in hot weather.

 

Chillies only ripen on the plant so once you pick them the heat will not increase.

 

If I pick them green when I am desperate, I leave the seeds on to have the maximum heat. Otherwise I will leave them on the plant until they turn bright red - but don't leave them out too long after the colour changes. Insects tend to eat them once they are red.

 

You can freeze the red chillies. When you need them, put them in water for 5 minutes, then use them the usual way. No change of texture or flavour.

 

They are such princesses, can't be too hot but can't stand the cold, don't like wet feet and need lots of fertilizers! But with the taste, it is definitely worth the effort!

 

I tried to overwinter my chillies. They are all in pots, under the pergola, next to a north-facing wall. The ones in smaller pots are put into clear plastic bags, tightly sealed from the top. This way I don't have to water them. The rest are covered in plant blankets. - QuailFlock

 

Earlier this year I strung some Cayennes up by their stalks and hung them in the garage in a dry spot and just use them as required. I am going to try and pickle them this season in a vinegar solution. There are few different ways to do it. If you Google chillies there are plenty of ways to do it.

 

I trimmed a lot of the old wood off to give the young shoots a good start. I have planted new Birdseyes as last year’s didn't look like shooting. They are growing well and have flowers coming already. I find the Birdseye have just the right amount of bite (for me anyway) and give your dishes that little bit extra. They are pretty much the same as Nellie Kellie but are easier to find in the nurseries. My Nellie Kellies last year were absolutely loaded.

 

When I overwintered the Jalapenos I just left them in the same place in the garden, trimmed back the foliage a bit and when they began to shoot I tidied them up a bit. My son in law doesn't trim them until the following year when they show signs of movement. The Black Pearl was in a pot, so it was easy to just put it somewhere sheltered.

 

I have come to the conclusion that to get your chilli seeds up in time to be planted out when the weather warms up (probably the end of September or later in Vic) you need to plant them in about early July and use some sort of temperature control.

 

I put some boards up to stop the cold south winds and some plastic over the top.

 

I found that chillies like the morning sun and dappled shade in the arvo, it's the heat that ripens the fruit not the sun. All areas have different climates and there are plenty of sites that show you what climate zone you're in.

 

I bought a Caroline Reaper (arguably the hottest in the world) and a Trinidad Scorpion Butch T (in the top ten hottest), I will use them in curries and stir-fry etc. they are seriously hot. I have tried Carolina before and it made my glasses steam up, tread carefully!

 

I've had my Black Pearl for 4 yrs now. It's easy to grow from seed. It really self seeds from the fruit falling off the bush.

 

Chillies are self pollinating, but they are easily cross pollinated, so if you have different varieties plant them well apart if possible.

 

Water your chilies when the leaves show signs of drooping as this is a sign that they need a drink. The theory is that the drier you can keep chilies plants the more heat the fruit has. The warmer weather certainly brings them on.

 

If you get too many, you can try drying them and then grinding them to make chilli flakes. This way you have your own product to add to your cooking for the non growing seasons or until it runs out. When they're dry I use a cheap coffee grinder, then store in a container in a dry place like a pantry.

 

If you've got a lot of them get a piece of fishing line and a fine needle and sew through the stems (try and make it so they don't touch each other) and hang them up in a sheltered airy spot (garage) and when they're dry you can grind them up for flakes or use them in your meals.  Most times they rehydrate when cooked unless they've dried out too much and if that's the case grind them and the flakes can be stored in a dry air-tight container indefinitely.

 

I've had some hanging up for about three years now, and haven't done anything with them because I forget they're there.

 

Certain varieties of chillies will ripen right up until May, so if you have green fruit on your chillies at the moment, they will colour up, given favourable conditions and time. If they don't pick them and pickle them. - bergs

 

I have a number of hot chillies that have a sheltered spot in my garden. I replace them every 2 or 3 years. I cut them back a bit before winter. Remember if you're planting chillies or any member of the Solanaceae family (tomatoes, chillies, capsicums) - don't put them in exactly the same spot each year. - robchin

 

Just my chilli overwintering experience, for what it's worth. I found that with the more robust varieties the best trick was to wait until the last season's foliage was looking really thin and ratty before pruning the bush back by 1/3 to 1/2.

 

Usual pruning tips apply - clean, sharp pruners, trim to just above a clear node or branch junction and make sure pruning cuts are clean and downward sloping.

 

I'd then mulch well with lucerne straw (garden grade) and make sure as much as possible that the plants stayed dry while dormant. Mine were in the garden in a sheltered spot so avoided frost but if in pots put them in a warm frost-free spot.

 

Then, as soon as the weather starts warming up give them a good watering with Seasol or similar and feed them to the max preferably with something with both a good organic component & a slow or controlled release component. I'm a fan of this one.

 

Remember too that some chillies are from very warm climates so just will not tolerate cold conditions even if frost free. In this case you'll either be needing a greenhouse of some sort. Otherwise store some seed and re-grow, sowing seeds in a warm spot indoors in late winter & planting out once night time temperatures go up a little.

And don't forget too that not all chillies are long-lived bushes. Many will only stay vigorous and productive for a couple of years so best to have a rolling pattern of replanting and replacement. - Adam_W

 

If growing from seed I use a propagator to germinate the seeds. Then get them in the sun gradually - try to form a Y shape. Take a leaf off the stem up to the V part occasionally to stimulate growth. Remove laterals like you do tomatoes. can be grown up gradually in pots and end up in a pot at least 200-250mm would be better.

 

When it gets evil hot, morning sun only, the first few chillies won't have any heat at all, seems the way. Chillies change their power in relation to the temp. When temps cool in autumn the chill gets hotter (to keep itself warm ! hahah!) If you still have a few on into winter they will get really evil then!

 

Excess can be sun dried and crushed up when crisp and save for winter when you really need warming up. Keep picking to encourage more fruit. If light green = unlikely to be very hot, dark green means hot, sometimes dark green can be hotter than red (change in flavour). Pot up at the end of winter, Aug, just before spring flush.

 

Liquid feed with Yates flower and fruit every week. Water plant first, then liquid feed the above. Either early morning or late arvo around 5 or 6 and away from sunlight. Regular light feedings are the key and no evil temps/sun in the summer. You can also feed with a fish emulsion/seaweed mix which is a great blend. Half strength, water first. Little and often is the best way to feed. - laidbackdood

 

I used to prune my chillies and use frost cloth for some of them except the rocotos which thrived even in the cold. This year I've been able to even propagate and have chillies survive under a mini greenhouse. (Coke bottle cut in half and put over the top). - chefyash

 

I don't have any particular issues with mine setting fruit but if you lack bees this can be a bit of any issue. I'd recommend taking one flower and hand pollinating all the others. It only takes a minute to do 20 or more flowers. Simply rub the anthers (little yellow things that hold the pollen) onto the other flowers anthers. You can also do this with a paintbrush, just collect the pollen off one flower and paint it onto the others.

 

I was considering purchasing the Mr Fothergill's Propagation Heat Pad. I did have a great little hothouse which had an in-built heating element but I believe my sister-in-law has permanently borrowed it. I had bought it because some of the really hot chillies need a ridiculous constant temperature of well over 25 degrees Celcius to germinate. - MitchellMc

 

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