Gardening Magazine

Potting-on the Chillis

By Mwillis
I have chilli plants at lots of different stages, but the majority of the ones I am growing from seed this year (as opposed to ones kept from last year, or given to me by other people) are at the point when they need to go into their final containers. I use 10-inch pots for chillis (occasionally a 12-inch one if there are some spare). Chillis definitely adjust their size to the pot in which they grow: give the plant a small pot and it will never grow big. If you want big chilli plants, give them big pots!

Potting-on the chillis

The tall one at the back (centre) is my solitary Turkish Bell Pepper plant. The others are chillis.

The black pots in the photo above were originally marketed as "Florist's buckets" at Morrisons supermarket. I bought them in batches of 8 pots for 99p. A few minutes' work with a drill to put some drainage holes in makes them ideal for my needs.

Potting-on the chillis

"Ring of Fire" in Florists' bucket

I also have 3 pots (the green, lidded, one in my photos here) which I bought a few years ago as tomato pots. They proved too small for that purpose, but they are good for chillis. They have a removeable perforated internal base which stands up a couple of inches from the bottom of the pot, effectively creating a water reservoir, and they also have detachable covers to assist with minimising water-loss from evaporation. I am using 2 of them for the Challock Chillis I am trialling. I have planted one in that "Sylvagrow" peat-free compost, and one in John Innes No.2, so it will be interesting to see if they perform differently.
Potting-on the chillis

After my bad experiences with contaminated or just generally poor-quality multi-purpose compost, I am using John Innes No.2 for most of my chillis this year. It supposedly contains nutrients for at least 6 weeks, and I shall be feeding my plants with the usual "Tomorite" tomato-feed anyway, so I'm hoping for decent results. The John Innes No.2 is a mix of loam, peat and grit and it has superior drainage to most multi-purpose composts. Of course it costs a bit more, but it's probably going to be worth the extra expense.
Until now, the chilli plants have been in 6-inch pots, which are OK for a couple of weeks to perhaps a month, but after that time the plants are going to be too cramped in them. I find that the best stage for transplanting is when the plants are about 6 to 8 inches tall - maybe a little bigger in some cases. This one is about the right size:

Potting-on the chillis


Whereas this one is definitely too small.

Potting-on the chillis


Planting a tiny chilli into a big 10-inch pot seldom produces good results (It's almost as if they are intimidated by the size!), but an 8-inch plant seems ideal. I put a fairly thin layer of compost in the bottom of the big pot and then the plant goes in with as much of its rootball as possible intact. Hopefully the plant will be quite low down in the new pot and when you back-fill with compost it will be deeply buried. This will promote strong root growth, as well as making it more stable.
After re-potting I give the chillis a little drink of water to help them recover from the shock of transplanting, and then put them under cover in one of the plastic greenhouses where they will be nice and warm.
Potting-on the chillis

Over the next few days I will gradually acclimatise them to living permanently outdoors.
Now I have to go and buy some more compost - I have lots more chillis to pot-up!

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