Chili peppers are attractive plants which, with a little care during cultivation, can yield a colorful crop of flavourful fruits. The capsaicin they contain spices up a meal and the plants are an eye-pleasing addition to any garden space.
If you grow from seed, rather than plant, many more varieties will be available.
What Environment Do Your Grow In?
If you live in a year-round warm environment you can sow seeds directly into the soil. Greenhouses also make excellent habitats.
As the majority of people do not have access to these, we will look at ways to grow hot peppers under other circumstances.
Chili Pepper Seeds Preparation
For best results, soak seeds overnight in filtered water, and then spread over one half of a wet paper towel. If you don't have access to filtered water, let tap water sit for 24 hours so that the chlorine can evaporate.
Fold the towel, sandwiching the seeds, and place in a semi-sealed bag (leaving a gap for oxygen) or germination chamber. Keep them warm, at around 25 to 30 degrees Celsius, and with moderate light.
They can be placed on top of the refrigerator, as this may be warmer than a windowsill. Keep the towels damp, not drenched.
Some varieties take only a few days to sprout whilst hotter ones can take around 100 days. Germination times can be unpredictable, so have patience.
Potting the Pepper Shoots Is Key in How to Grow Hot Peppers Successfully
When shoots and small leaves have formed, transfer into soil-filled containers. Equal parts soil, manure, and sand work well when mixed thoroughly.
As with watering, moderation is key here. Too much fertilizer will encourage more leafiness and less fruit.
Plant the seeds at twice the depth of their size, around 1/2 cm deep. Give them at least 2 cm distance from each other if you are using a tray rather than individual pots. Use labels if you are growing different varieties.
Shoots need less heat than seeds, around 21 degrees Celsius should now suffice. As ever, keep the peppers moist but don't drown them.
How to Acclimatise Your Chili Peppers to the Outside
After the last frost, when night temperatures are around 12 to 16 degrees Celsius, you may start to accustom your plants to outdoor weather and sunlight.
They will be 20 to 30 cm tall by now. Begin with 1/2 hour in partial sunlight and gradually increase the amount of exposure daily until, around 2 weeks later, they are ready to be left outside overnight.
Transplanting The Pepper Seedlings Outside
Plant 1/2 meter apart, or in sizeable individual containers. Loosely-tied stakes will support the stems.
Nightshades, including hot peppers, can suffer from a lack of calcium. Add bone-meal, or lime powder and wood ash, to the soil every 4 weeks, and once they flower heavily, to address this.
Enjoy Your Hot Peppers
Before long you will harvest your own delicious, beautiful chili peppers. If they prove too hot for consumption, they can always be dried and strung up as tasteful decorations.
Chili peppers are a great choice for beginners learning how to grow hot peppers from seed.