Who loves a little spice? If the answer is an enthusiastic “I do!” chiles are the plant for you! Grab your seeds and get ready to brave the heat.
Phase One: Planting
Hot chiles enjoy the hot sun and since they come from dry, desert climates, your watering schedule is a bit more ‘lax than usual too!
- Start your seeds off early— around 7 – 10 weeks before you want to take them outside.
- Plant your seeds fairly shallow, 1⁄4” to 1⁄2” deep, with some elbow room too.
- The day you take them outside should be around 2 – 3 weeks after the last frost (about
the same time as tomatoes or basil).
- Harden off your seedlings by increasing their exposure to the outdoors for a week before permanently moving them outside into the garden. Start with 1-2 hours and slowly increase the time to a full day.
- Move your container (or transplant seedlings) to a spot that gets at least 6 hours of sun
a day. Chiles love the heat and sunshine.
- There should be at least 12” between plants.
Phase Two: Seedlings
You’ve planted your chilis. Now let’ set up for some spice!
- Keep your peppers hydrated, but don’t overwater them. If soil feels dry 1” or 2” down,
give them a drink.
- If you have a good water balance, going on the dryer side results in hotter peppers. Are
you brave enough to try it?
- Aim to keep your garden free of weeds, where pests and disease can shelter. As hot as
they are, peppers can be vulnerable.
Phase 3: Growing
Chiles can be quick out of the gate—you can expect a bushy, compact plant to greet you
as early as 3 weeks after planting!
- When you see your first flowering shoots appear, pinch them off. This tells the plant to
branch off, so you get more chilis.
- To get them growing even better, add more aged compost to the soil mixture—this
adds nutrients and helps the soil hold water.
- If your plants grow nice and tall, give them a stake to support them.
- Peppers are self-pollinating, so don’t worry if you don’t see bees around. These plants
are hot and independent.
Phase Four: Harvest
What’s that? Can you see it? Is it…it is! Ripe chiles! They are ready in 60 – 120 days depending on the
variety and if you are harvesting green or brightly colored (red, orange, or yellow) peppers which take a bit longer to ripen. Hot mama it’s pickin’ time!
- Most chilis mature from green to red, and once they’re at an intense, deep red, they’re
- The more you harvest, the more your plant will produce, so make sure you’re clipping
regularly. Make sure you clip them off the vine, as tearing them can damage the plant.
- Wear gloves when you harvest your chilis and don’t touch your
eyes. You will instantly regret it, trust us. We know.
- Harvest can last up to three months, and at the end of the season, save some seeds to
plant next year and keep your chili train rolling!