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How to Grow Capsicum/Peppers or Chillies

This is suggested to be a general guide to grow capsicum/chillies. As there are about hundreds of varieties of capsicum/chillies, it is also important to research about them as they may have specific planting requirements (soil, temperature, fertilizer, etc.)


Growing peppers from seed

Soak the seeds for a few hours before planting them into your growing media. Some practitioners scarify (to create a scar or scratch) the seeds using a sandpaper to hasten the germination process. In terms of soaking solution, I usually just use water, but others use hydrogen peroxide as a solution to speed up germination. I personally use Jiffy pellets in germinating my peppers. Occasionally, I also use seedling mixes to plant my seeds in.

The ideal temperature for pepper seeds to germinate is 20-25 degree celcius. If you plan to plant your seeds during late winter to have an early start, it is advisable to have them planted in a greenhouse or in a germinating tray (with cover) and place it in a sunny room or on your window sill.

Young pepper plant

After your seeds germinated, in the next 3-4 weeks, a few leaves will soon sprout from your young plant. If the last day of frost has passed, you may start hardening them by putting them outside every day for a few hours to acclimatise them. After which you can plant them directly to the ground. If you are planting more than one plant, maintain a 50-60cm spacing between each plant. For container planting, I recommend to plant them to at least 20-litre pots.

Growing peppers from cuttings

Some gardeners grow peppers/chilies from cuttings. What they do is to take a mature branch from the plant by cutting it diagonally about 45 degrees. Then remove the outer skin of the plant on the bottom about 2 inches upwards then plant them into a growing mix and when they start forming roots in 3-4 weeks, it’s time to plant them into the ground or onto a container.

Plant pruning

When growing peppers/chillies, this is a very important aspect that every gardener should practice. This is a matter of patience, as many gardeners are so eager and they don’t prune their plants to have an early harvest.

Why prune and how to do it? Pruning is done to encourage your plant to develop more branches and make it bushier thereby given the right conditions, it will produce more flowers and fruits. It is also develop more its root system. Because once you allow your plants to flower, it will divert all of its energy into fruit production, that is why it is important to have the branches fully developed as well as its root before you allow it to flower.

I usually do this when my plant has about 6-8 true (developed) leaves. I will prune it on top so the true leaves remain. This is promote the development of side branches (suckers) from the leaf areas. This is contrary to tomatoes where suckers are generally removed and only the main trunk is encouraged to develop.

The photo below is a pruned, multi-branching Asian Fire Chilli that I planted last season.

Staking

Most peppers/chili plants don’t require staking but if the plant has an abundance of fruits, it is better to stake them to prevent the branches from breaking. Large fruit varieties such as bell peppers may require strong stakes especially when they have multiple branches with clusters of fruits in them.

Harvesting

Fruits are harvested when they reach full size but there are some varieties harvested even if they are still immature and they mature when stored in a cool dry place. For seed saving, I recommend harvesting the fruits when they are fully mature (ripe). Frequent picking of fruits are also done to encourage the plant to flower and produce more fruits.

If you have any question, don’t hesitate to post in our discussion forum.