I love the thought of eating home-grown fruit and vegetables, and regular readers will know how excited I was last summer when my newly planted blueberry bushes yielded tons of fruit. I cherished those blueberries and froze some, which still sit in my freezer waiting for a special enough occasion to use them (because home-grown fruit can’t be thrown in just any old recipe willy-nilly, can it?).
That said, what I do know about cultivating fruit and gardening in general could be written on a postage stamp, but I plan on growing plenty more in my garden this year, and even some in the house. So, I’ve been swotting up on the subject in preparation. One of the first things I want to try is growing chilli peppers indoors; not only do they yield amazing food, but they are visually stunning, too.
Given my decidedly un-green fingers, I asked Ann Katelyn, the driving force behind the fabulous and informative Sumo Gardener to give us some tips on how to grow and take care of your own indoor chillies. Seriously, she makes it sound so interesting – can’t wait to get started!
If you love gardening, you’ve probably grown chili peppers before. After all, they look beautiful in your garden and they are valuable to the rich flavours of your meals. Still, there will be times when you want to grow chili peppers but you don’t have enough space in your garden anymore. Worse, you might be renting a small apartment and you have no garden in the first place.
Thankfully, you can still enjoy chili peppers by growing them inside a pot.
Just like any other plant, chili peppers need enough light and water to grow. If you do not provide these sufficiently, your potted plants will not thrive. Now, in terms of sunlight, chili peppers need at least five hours each day. If you expose them to sunlight a little bit longer, that would be even better. However, if you live in a tropical area or if it gets too hot very often, always place them somewhere with enough shade after giving enough light.
Since you are growing chili pepper in pots, you need to find a location where you can easily acquire water. Water is necessary to maintain enough moisture in the soil and to prevent your plants from drying out. The plant will be entirely dependent on you for the provision of water if the pots aren’t placed in a garden or any outdoor area.
Take note that the roots of chili pepper plants cannot go deep into the soil to search for water unlike if they were not grown in pots, although you can use a rooting hormone to increase root growth. If the temperature in your area is around 18 degrees Celsius, you only need to water the plants once a day. If it ever reaches 27 degrees Celsius, you should water the chili pepper plants twice a day.
Also, the regular garden soil will not suffice for chili peppers grown inside a pot. The best kind of soil for this is potting soil, which is both loose and well-drained. Furthermore, any good quality potting soil is fertile and abundant with organic matter. If there is no readily available potting soil, you can ensure good quality by applying compost as you plant the vegetables.
Likewise, you should not just pick any pot you see in the store. The best kind of pot to grow chili peppers in is the one with enough drainage holes. Usually, a five-gallon variant will be big enough to grow one chili pepper. If you are going to grow smaller kinds of pepper, a three-gallon pot will do. Furthermore, prepare at least a seven-gallon pot for the biggest varieties of chili pepper.
- Growing the Chili Peppers
Once you see the flowers appear, you should lower the amount of water you provide to your plants. Of course, be careful not to reduce so much because you would not want the soil to be dried out. If ever you commit this mistake, the number of flowers will be negatively affected. In addition, apply some fertilizer if you want optimum plant growth. The best choice is tomato fertilizer, and adding in some well-rotted manure or compost once per month will go a long way in growing your chili pepper plants.
Another important technique to apply to ensure proper growth is pinching. Essentially, pinching leads to thicker chili pepper plants. So, how do you exactly pinch a plant? Simply put, you just have to cut the growing tip once the chili pepper plant is about six inches tall. This process helps a lot during both the early growing period and when you are moving your plants from one place to another.
- Disease Prevention
The location of your pots needs to be somewhere with decent air circulation to prevent the development of pests and diseases. Also, you must not do overhead watering because fungal infections may arise from having wet foliage.
You have to pay great attention to prevent the spread of aphids around your beloved potted plants. These ridiculously small insects love to suck the sap of plants – making them one of the most destructive pests that gardeners and plant growers worry about constantly. Worse, aphids immediately grow in number since they reproduce asexually. Like any other pests, the best answer against aphids is to keep your potted plants healthy. Basically, this will prevent them from appearing in the first place.
However, in case of aphids appearing in your potted plants, you have a variety of options to choose from: manual removal, washing and applying soap. If there aren’t that many of them, you can pick them off using your fingers or with a cotton swab. If you have a small hose, try removing the pests by applying a relatively strong surge of water toward them. A third option is to buy insecticidal soaps that you mix with water to spray on the plants. Of course, don’t buy soaps that have harmful additives and perfumes.
And there you have it. From sunlight, water, soil, and location to disease prevention and plant growth tips, you now know how to properly grow pepper plants inside a pot. If you follow through correctly, you’ll be having some delicious chili peppers in no time.
Wow! Thanks so much, Ann! If you’d like to learn more about Ann and what she does, check out Sumo Gardener or find her on Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook!