I’ve copied these instructions from my old site, as I noticed the URL was still getting lots of hits – please note I didn’t write them, and was never any good at growing chillies myself, but it’s still useful information!
Chilli Plants – Care instructions
These plants are incredibly easy to look after. There are only really two things that you need to remember in order to keep them alive.
- Water them regularly.
- Keep them in a well-lit place.
I’ve found that Chilli plants are pretty robust and can take a little abuse, but if you look after them well, they’ll grow even better and in return they’ll reward you with more and better chillies.
Water the soil two or three times a week until the soil is damp, not wet. If the weather is hot and dry, then you may well need to water them every day.
If you’re going away for the weekend, then it’s ok to give them a good drenching, they don’t seem to mind over watering from time to time. You can stand the pot in a bowl of water if you need to go away for longer periods of time.
Over watering on a regular basis can cause the roots to rot (which is bad).
The pot that you have will have drainage holes in it, so make sure you stand it in a saucer or something when watering, or it’ll go everywhere.
This really isn’t essential, but if you give them a pinch or two of any good plant food once a week you’ll get MUCH better results. If you find that the leaves are looking brown or ‘burned’ at the tips, that’s a sign that the plant could do with some food.
Your chilli plant will grow to about 18 inches to 2 feet within about 2 months. As it grows it will need a bigger pot so that the roots can extend – if the roots can extend, the plant can grow (the reverse of the Bonsai principle!).
You’ll only need to re-pot the plant once, and this can be done any time from now until the plant is about 6-8 inches tall.
I used to use ice-cream tubs to grow my chilli plants in, but something deeper would be better. If you pop down to any garden centre, Homebase, (Woolworths?) and pick up a 6 inch pot (or larger if you like) that should do.
I find that putting a hand-full of broken polystyrene at the bottom of the pot helps drainage. This is essential if your new pot does not have drainage holes in it; water pools at the bottom of the pot and rots the roots.
So, here’s how you do it.
- Have the following to hand:
- Chilli plant
- 6” pot
- newspaper on table (could get messy!),
- Couple of handfuls of broken polystyrene.
- Water (with plant food if you like)
- Compost. Any multi-purpose compost will do, or soil if you like, but compost will be sterile and less messy!
- Put the polystyrene in the bottom of the pot, enough to cover the bottom to an inch or two.
- Cover this with a little compost, so that the remaining pot depth is a little more than the depth of your old pot. (See diagram)
- Tap the chilli plant out of the pot (be brave). DON’T hold the plant by the stem, if you damage the stem near the base you can kill the plant.
- If the roots are all coiled around in the bottom of the root ball, then just tease them apart if you’re feeling brave. (Roots can be a but stupid sometimes and carry on spiralling around and not realising that they have space to grow).
- Place the plant in the pot and fill the surrounding area up with compost such that the root ball is just covered (a little higher is good).
- Firm the compost down gently and top up with compost if needed.
- Now, make sure that you water the plant good and well (remembering that the bottom of the pot will leak!). It’s a good time to feed the plant to minimise any shock effects (but don’t worry).
(The whole POINT really)
Easy, just sit back and relax. Keep the plant by a sunny window and watch the little white flowers appear. After a week or two, the flowers will wilt and die – a lovely chilli will grow from this.
The chillies will take a couple of weeks to grow and can be left on the plant for as long as you like (they’re even good when they start to shrivel a little). Eventually, they will go red, but they can still be eaten when green.
If your plant has a lot of fruit on the go, then it’s probably a good idea to feed it. You can pick off flowers to help transfer more energy to the growing chillies if you like.
If you find you have a huge glut of chillies, then they can be frozen and used later.