Chillies

Peppers and chillies – Grow Guide

Discover how to grow your own peppers and chillies, in this practical growing guide.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Sow
Sow

Do not Sow in January

Do Sow in February

Do Sow in March

Do Sow in April

Do not Sow in May

Do not Sow in June

Do not Sow in July

Do not Sow in August

Do not Sow in September

Do not Sow in October

Do not Sow in November

Do not Sow in December

Plant
Plant

Do not Plant in January

Do not Plant in February

Do not Plant in March

Do not Plant in April

Do Plant in May

Do Plant in June

Do not Plant in July

Do not Plant in August

Do not Plant in September

Do not Plant in October

Do not Plant in November

Do not Plant in December

Harvest
Harvest

Do not Harvest in January

Do not Harvest in February

Do not Harvest in March

Do not Harvest in April

Do not Harvest in May

Do not Harvest in June

Do Harvest in July

Do Harvest in August

Do Harvest in September

Do Harvest in October

Do not Harvest in November

Do not Harvest in December

  • Average Yield

    2-3kg per 3m row

  • Spacing

    45cm apart

    60cm between rows

  • Depth

    0.5cm

Overview

If you have success growing tomatoes you’ll be able to grow peppers and chillies too. Given a warm, sunny spot on a south-facing patio or windowsill, these eye-catching plants will reward you with rich pickings.

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If you have success growing tomatoes you’ll be able to grow peppers and chillies too.

Growing peppers and chillies from seed

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Sowing and planting

Although they can be grown in the ground, sweet peppers and chillies tend to fare best in containers. They need plenty of moisture and hate bad drainage, so use a soil-based compost with lots of added grit.

They will all crop well outside in a sunny, sheltered spot, but for even better results, grow them in a greenhouse, conservatory or on a sunny windowsill.

Sow seed indoors in spring. Transplant seedlings into individual 7.5cm pots, when the first true leaves appear and they are well rooted. Eventually, plant into 30cm pots or grow three to a growing bag. Wait until May, after the last frost, before moving outside.

Tending the crop

Water little and often. As soon as the first flowers appear, feed regularly with a high-potash liquid fertiliser such as tomato feed. Pinch out the growing tips when plants are about 20cm tall to encourage bushy growth. Stake each plant and tie up regularly with twine to prevent them collapsing under the weight of fruit.

In hot weather, mist plants to deter red spider mites.

harvesting-sweet-peppers-2

Harvesting peppers and chillies

Both peppers and chillies will be ready to pick from late summer. Pick sweet peppers when they’re green or leave them until they turn red and develop a sweeter flavour. Some yellow varieties start green, while others are yellow from the word go.

For the mildest flavour, pick chillies while they’re still green, leave them to turn yellow for extra bite, or bright red for more heat. Don’t touch your face or eyes while picking or preparing them.

Storing peppers and chillies

Sweet peppers are best eaten fresh. They will store for a few days in the fridge. Store dried chillies in an airtight jar in a cool, dark place.

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Preparation and uses

To prepare a sweet pepper, remove the seeds and stalk. Slice to eat raw in salads, or add to ratatouille and stir-fries. Chillies add heat to curries, stir-fries and chilli con carne. Removing the seeds tones down their fieriness.

How to slice a chilli – 20-second video demonstration from our friends at olive magazine.

Troubleshooting

Watch out for blossom-end rot and grey mould. These are caused by erratic watering so be sure to water regularly. Red spider mite can be avoided by regular misting, while a soapy spray should despatch whitefly.

Turning down the heat

If you burn your mouth while eating chillies, try a spoonful of sugar or a glass of milk, rather than water.

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Pepper and chilli varieties to try

Sweet peppers

  • ‘Carnival Mix’ – large quantities of good-sized, succulent red, orange, yellow, green and purple-black fruits
  • ‘Gypsy’ – produces lots of sweet, well-flavoured fruits that turn orange to red on maturity. Will fruit outdoors
  • ‘Mohawk’ – a strong grower that produces plenty of small, sweet green fruits that ripen to orange

Chillies

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  • ‘Apache’ – these tough dwarf plants cope well outdoors. The pretty green fruits mature to red and are medium hot
  • ‘Habanero’ – the small, sizzling hot, green fruits ripen to orange-yellow
  • ‘Joe’s Long Cayenne’ – the finger-like chillies, up to 25cm long, can be eaten green or red. Not too hot