The Five Chili Species
Domestic chilies are cultivars originating from 5 species
- Capsicum annuum (e.g. Jalapeno, Chipotle, Cayenne)
- Capsicum frutescens (e.g. Tabasco, Thai)
- Capsicum chinense (e.g. Habanero, Ghost Peppers, Carolina Reaper)
- Capsicum pubescens (e.g. Rocoto)
- Capsicum baccatum (e.g. Aji)
With luck and a sunny summer your plants will grow happily. Don’t be tempted to prune them – some gardeners nip out the first shoots to encourage their chilies to bush out. There is really no need and you will just delay the development of the first fruit. They have a naturally bushy habit, so let them develop it. However, they may not prove to be entirely self-supporting as they grow, and can benefit from having a stout cane pushed into the ground near the base. Tie the main stem to the cane to prevent toppling.
Keep plants reasonably well watered over the summer (but not waterlogged) and start feeding with a high-potash fertilizer once the flowers appear. A high-potash fertilizer is one that encourages flower and fruit production. Tomato fertilizers are good examples and will work perfectly for chilies. It is worth feeding your plants with them regularly, at least once every week.
Once the fruits start to ripen up, you have the choice of whether to leave them on the plant to grow to their full sweetness or remove them and encourage more fruits. Those removed will carry on ripening, but they do it best on the plant. You have a race to ripen: just as seedlings need protecting at the beginning of the season, so will plants be affected by the colder weather towards the end. In a greenhouse or conservatory, plants will go on into autumn but outdoors they will start to suffer. Any fruits that are hit by frost will turn to mush. Protect outdoor-grown plants with horticultural fleece or cloches, and carry pot-grown plants indoors to a sunny room.
Stay tuned for more coming up on the Growing Chili Peppers at Home series from Fix.com
Start your Chili Garden with our Chili Pepper Seed Pack