Growing Chili Peppers in Containers
Chili peppers, or hot peppers, are tropical plants that are used for spice throughout the world. These fiery perennials are grown as annuals outside of its native Latin America and come in varying sizes, colors, and levels of spiciness. Because they are native of tropical regions, some people think that growing them at home is much too difficult. However, growing chili peppers in containers can help you maximize your peppers' time in the sun and help you in your quest to produce home-grown chili peppers.
Materials for Planting:
- Seeding tray
- 7 cm and 20 cm black plastic containers
- Compost soil (no peat moss), plenty of sand for good drainage
- Chili pepper seeds
- Start germinating seeds indoors in early spring (around March) so that your plants will be hardy enough to move outside in the summer.
- A major benefit of container growing is that your plants are transportable. Take advantage of this and follow the sun around the house or yard.
- A dark container will attract the sun and help keep your soil warm.
Choosing the Pepper Variety
There are many different types of peppers: habanera, jalapeno, and banana are three popular ones. Each pepper should list its spiciness level, so you can make sure you don’t get a pepper too bland or spicy for your taste. If you live in colder climates, choose a pepper with a shorter growing time if you want to set them outdoors. In general, if you are growing in a container from seed, start germinating around March.
The average germinating time varies from a couple days to a couple months, depending on what variety you are growing.
- If planting from seed, plant seeds in a tray a couple inches apart and cover with 1/2 inch of compost soil.
- Keep air and soil from 70 to 95 degrees for best results.
- Place the tray somewhere dry, warm and humid; water, and help keep the soil moist by covering with perforated plastic wrap.
- When seedlings appear, remove plastic wrap and move to a sunny windowsill.
- Once the second set of leaves on your seedlings develop, transplant to 7 cm pots and push compost soil up until its right under the bottom set of leaves.
- You can also buy seedlings ready to plant in small pots at a greenhouse.
- Start feeding weekly with an Epsom salts spray, 15-15-15 plant food, or seaweed extract.
Transplanting for Summer
- By around May or when the weather is consistently above 70 degrees, transplant into a 20 cm pot.
- Gradually introduce your pepper plants to the outside. First, just crack the window it is next to; then, slowly increase the time spent outdoors, starting with only the sunniest hours.
- Good places to leave your plant once it has acclimated is near a southern facing wall, somewhere out of the wind.
When it’s time to harvest, peppers should come off easily.