Success with Chillies from Seed
|this is what chilli seedlings look like|
Seeds should generally be sown on top of a good organic (preferably peat-free) compost that has been lightly watered. You can use a special seed compost for this or you can use a good, fresh general purpose compost if you take out some of the larger pieces of material. Garden soil is never suitable for sowing chilli seeds. Cover the freshly sown seeds with about 0.5cm of potting mix, vermiculite or perlite. Seedlings will grow successfully in 3-4cm modules or sow 2 or 3 seeds per 7cm individual pots and take out the weakest seedlings.
Germinate at room temperature, or use a propagator set to 20C-25C. For seeds that want to be really warm, such as Habaneros, Scotch Bonnets, Fatalii or Rocotos, you could try starting them in an airing cupboard, but make sure you check daily and move them into good light as soon as they start to sprout. Grow the chillies on in good light on a sunny windowsill or in a conservatory, keeping them at room temperature or at least, not lower than 16C to keep them growing strong. If it's too dark and warm the seedling will grow weak and thin. Seedlings in modules should be potted as soon as they start to look crowded, seedlings in larger individual pots can wait a little longer. Young chillies exposed to temperatures below 16C sulk and stop growing, this will set back growth by a few weeks and delay your harvest. Cover the seeds with a propagator lid or cling film to keep moisture in and avoid having to water seeds before they've germinated, but check often, and remove the cover to let air circulate once you have seedlings. You can cover seedlings at night for extra warmth, but keep the lid off during the day so that they don't grow to soft.
If you have to, try to water from below by standing in a tray of water and letting the moisture soak upwards until the top looks moist, or use a fine watering can rose, or a bottle-top waterer.
Potting OnWhen chillies are looking a large for their pots, or if you can see white roots starting to make their way out of the bottom, pot the chillies on into bigger pots. For the smaller, compact varieties of chilli that are to be grown as ornamental indoor plants, use two plants per 20cm pot, or three into a larger one. Outdoor and larger plants will need bigger heavier pots so that they are stable and have enough potting mix to feed and provide water for the bigger plants. Choose pots that are 30cm or more in diameter. Chillies indoors will grow happily in any good organic compost. Outside try this recommended potting mix for patio vegetables.
Keep them growing in a sunny spot until they are well established in their new pots.
Moving Chillies Outside
|explosive ember chillies|