Growing chilli from Seed
January and February are by far the best time of the year to start growing your chillies from seed, although you can sow seeds as late as April and still have a successful year. As a general rule of thumb, the hotter the chilli, the longer the growing season required.
Remember that chillies hate the frost. Invest in either a heated propagator or create some space on a warm windowsill where the young chilli plants can germinate. Start by filling a seed tray with some fine compost and give it a water. Make sure that there is adequate drainage as you want the compost to be damp, but not soaking.
Next, poke a hole into the compost, drop a seed in and then gently cover with some more compost. Repeat until all of the cells of the seed tray are completed. If you are growing multiple varieties in the same tray then make sure that you clearly label them.
Finally pop the lid on the propagator and set aside onto a warm windowsill.
As the lid of the propagator has been removed you’ll need to ensure that you regularly water the seedlings to ensure that they remain healthy. Chillies at this age are fickle, they neither like it too dry or too damp.
Potting on your chillies
Once the chilli seedlings are large enough to handle, transfer them into their own individual 7.5cm (3″) pots and either keep them on the window sill or move them into a heated greenhouse. Once the final frost has passed you by, you’ll then be in a position to transfer them into their final destination. Ideally this will be a minimum of a 10l pot however this can be smaller if required, just keep in mind that the plant will be stunted and final yield will be smaller than if you went for a larger pot.
This can vary wildly depending on the variety of chilli you decide to grow. Milder chillies can produce ripe fruit from 60 days from sowing, whereas hotter varieties can take 120 days or more
Light isn’t required to germinate chilli seeds, however they do require warmth. Once the seedlings appear above the compost they’ll then require a good light source to remain healthy.
Between 18-25 degrees Celsius, chilli seeds will take approximately 7-10 days to germinate.
The best time to sow chilli seeds is between January and late April, however unless you have a heated propagator or a warm windowsill, then March would be the best time of the year.
Young plants become tall and ‘leggy’ when they’re not getting enough light to generate energy through photosynthesis. If you still have the lid on the propagator, remove it and move the seedlings to a bright and sunny area.