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Geranium_gem's Garden

Chilli plant

Given to me by T&T April 2011.

Possibly 'Apache'.

Caring for your chilli plant:

Chilli plants should be fairly easy to care for.

They need to be protected from frost and will do best in a sunny spot out of any cold winds or draughts. A South or East facing windowsill or sheltered patio is ideal

Chilli plants should be kept on the dry side. We see far more problems from overwatering than underwatering. If the soil is allowed to remain soggy, you often see the leaves turn yellow as the roots start to suffocate and eventually the whole plant can shrivel up and die if left unchecked. The rule is therefore to only water when the top of the soil is dry to the touch. That might be once a month in the winter or as much as twice a day in the summer. You can spot when your plant is getting underwatered as the leaves will start to droop quite dramatically. At this point you will need to water straight away but they will perk up again quickly. In fact there is a school of thought that suggests that by watering only when the leaves are drooping you stress the plant into producing hotter fruit!

Chilli plants should be kept in a small pot. They really don't like being overpotted and will suffer from placing in to large a pot too quickly. Most of our chilli plants shouldn't need repotting in their first year, however if you are struggling to keep up with the watering or if your plants is 3 or more times the size of it's pot then you can repot. Just choose a pot that is only 2 or 3cm bigger in diameter and use a good general purpose compost with some drainage.

Chilli plants love sunshine, they originate in South America after all, the more sunlight your plant can get on fruit, the hotter the fruit will become.

Chilli plants are greedy feeders and will benefit from feeding in the growing season. A tomato feed, baby bio or any other high nitrogen feed will keep the leaves nice and green and keep your plant fruiting longer. Apply in line with the manufacturers instructions every couple of weeks from July through to September.

Over wintering your chilli plant:

Chilli plants were traditionally grown as annuals but with a little care they can be overwintered and will come back even stronger the following year.

The more compact pot chilli plants over winter better than the larger fleshier plants and the apache chilli plants seem to do particularly well in their second and even third year.

To achieve a strong chilli plant the following season it is important to let your plant 'rest' over the winter. Your plant does need to be kept well above freezing and a cool sunny spot is best, such as a greenhouse, conservatory, porch or cool room where the temperature is roughly between 5 and 15C. At some point in December or January you should then notice that your plant slows right down and stops putting on new growth and fruits, at this point you need to harvest any remaing fruits (whether they are red or green) and hold back on the watering so that the top of the soil dries out completely. Then take sharp seceteurs and prune your chilli plant right back to 3 or 4 main branches. Always make your cuts just above the 'nodal point' where the plant branches. You are aiming to remove two thirds of this years growth and your plant will look a bit bare and pathetic when you finish.

In this state you will hardly need to water your chilli plant and in fact unless the room is on the warm side can probably leave off watering completely until march or so when you should see the first one or two new leaves emerge from a nodal point. At this point water half a teacup to get your chilli plant started and then after a week or so - once it is putting on new growth - you can then give it a dose of feed and then return to a more normal watering routine. NB new shoots and branches will develop from where you cut back your chilli plant so if you didn't cut your plant back hard or far enough it will look a bit 'straggly' the following year.

Typically chilli plants kept indoors over the winter will be a bit ahead of any sown that year so you should start to see the first flowers form in April/May with fruits soon after. In a warm room we have seen customers manage to keep their plants fruiting and flowering right through into February from the year before but plants treated in this way will eventually run out of energy without a rest.


Photos of this plant

  • P1040802