Sunday 3 June 2012

Chillis - first fruits

My first chilli fruits are on the way! This is "Fuego F1".

Most chilli plants will naturally divide (I mean fork into two main branches) when they get to a couple of feet in height - like this:

This forking means that the plants will stay bushy and won't grow too tall, which is convenient since they therefore won't require so much support. Of course, you can nip out the growing point at any stage if you want to limit the height of the plant. Its natural reaction to such "surgery" will be to divert its energy into more and stronger side-shoots. One of the things that most seed suppliers DON'T tell you is how high the chilli plant is expected to grow, and they do differ a lot. Last year one of the varieties I grew was "Pinocchio's Nose" which was huge - much bigger than most chillis - and it would certainly be unsuitable for growing indoors on a windowsill!

My next photo is of the first fruit forming on one of the "Hot Portugal" plants. When I grew this variety last year it did not live up to its name. The fruits were very good-looking, but too mild in my opinion, despite the supplier's description of it as having a rating of 4 out of 5 for heat. There are lots of factors that determine the heat of an individual chilli plant, like the amount of water it gets, the amount of nutrients it gets, and the amount of sunshine it gets. I wish I could give you a scientific formula for achieving the perfect chilli, but the truth is I can't. Success with chillis seems to me to be very much a matter of luck! This year I am going to water my chillis less, give them less plant food and hope for hot weather. In theory this should put them under more stress, which often causes a plant to "counter-attack" by producing hotter fruits.

Chilli plants generally produce lots of flowers, but if they all developed into fruits the plant would be overloaded, so it is quite normal for many of the flowers to drop off before fruits are formed, particularly when the plant is still small. I often find that there is a stage early in the season when most of the flowers drop off, which can be a bit alarming, but I also know that I have never had a chilli which hasn't gone on to produce a viable crop, so this flower-drop stage doesn't worry me any more.

Until a few days ago, my chillis were inside my plastic Seedling Greenhouse, protected from the weather, but now that things have warmed up I have moved them out into the open air.

Here they are, alongside the Runner Beans. It's a veritable forest of canes now because I have given each chilli plant a short cane of its own. You'll note that I use plastic cane-toppers on all these short canes, in order to avoid possible eye/face damage while bending down to tend them.

This next photo is just for art's sake. I like it.

Finally, writing about chillis has reminded me indirectly that I wanted to show you this:

That's a photo of Jane's interpretation of the Indonesian salad Gado Gado with peanut sauce (which might go well with a curry, which might contain chillis...) If you want to see more, visit her blog Onions and Paper.


  1. That is what I should have done with my peppers. Added a stake. If I had that one that broke off in the last rain, wouldn't have. I like the stake toppers idea too.

  2. Your plants are looking very good! Enjoy the long weekend. Its quite windy and chilly in Northern Ireland but hopefully will improve.

  3. I hope your chillies like chilly weather!

  4. I am growing bedding plants for the first time. It is great to see how they should look. Thank you for the post. Your pictures are awesome. You look way ahead of us, so I'm very curious about your temperatures at this time of year.

  5. I love Gado Gado! Did the chillies you put in the garage survive the winter? I'm presuming not as you haven't mentioned them?

    1. Liz, no they did'nt survive the very cold weather we had early in the year. They might have made it if I had had them in the house, but they were really too big to fit on a windowsill - and not very pretty as houseplants!

  6. Wow to your chillies, I have 3 plants and two of them are just about to flower.

  7. Love the chillis. These are looking good. If you like the heat, have you tried habeneros? The foliage is different from most other chillis, and the heat? Well they are HOT!

  8. This is one plant I can easily say we grow lots , without a care. We get lots of chillies, hot , indian ones:-)

    The artful plant is a beauty. And so are the others. shows how much care is taken in the garden.

  9. Love the arty shot Mark! I think my chillies/bell peppers/capsicums are about a month behind yours; I sowed seeds at the beginning of April after a tweet by Mark Diacono said if you haven't sown chillies by now, it's too late!! I now have 16 chilli, etc, plants... and hoping for a bumper crop. I won't worry now if all the flowers drop off. Mine are still on the windowsill but I'll put them outside on the balcony when things warm up a bit.

  10. Thats really informative. I remember panicking when my pepper plant dropped all its flowers. I have four chilly plants in containers. Being a chilly addict I hope I can grow more varieties as you do.


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