United States Edition

Chili pepper      

Capsicum annuum longum group

'Chili pepper' is a plant in the Capsicum genus with a scientific name of Capsicum annuum longum group. The botanical name epithet for Chili pepper (annuum) means 'annual'.

Chili peppers are a very popular plant for gardeners to grow – they come in a huge variety of different sizes, colours and heat intensity. Peppers tend to grow best in warm areas where the soil can be kept relatively cool and moist, but can also be grown indoors in other areas.

Hot, or chili peppers, are categorized in the Longum group of peppers. In general, smaller chilis are hotter than larger chilis. Chili Peppers are best categorized by their rating on the Scoville Scale of heat. This scale starts at 0 to denote negligible heat (e.g. Sweet Peppers) and increases into the millions (Bhut Jolokia being one of the hottest measured at 1,041,427).1

This pepper gets milder as it ripens, has a curved shape and its color is yellow like a banana.4

Blooms appear in these approximate colours:   Floral white and   White. The mature flowers take a single form, with an approximate petal count of 6. When ripe, fruit appear in these approximate colours:   Cornell Red and   Mikado yellow. Leaves appear approximately as a   India green colour. Chili pepper grows as an annual/perennial and is a flowering edible fruit / vegetable. Being an annual / perennial plant, it tends to grow either as a single season plant, or a plant that can stay in your garden for many years. Chili pepper normally grows to a erect habit with a max height of 1.49 feet (that's 45.72 cm metric). This plant tends to bloom in early autumn and be ready for harvest in late summer. Popular varieties of Chili pepper with home gardeners are Jalapeno, Cayenne, Serrano, Poblano and Anaheim.

Chili pepper is said to originate in Mexico.

Chili pepper is normally fairly low maintenance and is normally quite easy to grow, as long as a level of basic care is provided throughout the year. Being aware of the basic soil, sun and water preferences will result in a happier and healthier plant.

This plant info is provided by the myfolia gardener's wiki. All details about Chili pepper have been kindly provided by our members.

How to grow Chili pepper

  • Full Sun

    OR +
  • Partial Sun

  • Medium

  • Some varieties of chili may need to be supported with a cane as the fruit develops.
  • High phosphorous soil amendments such as bonemeal will help get transplants off to a fast start.
A full sun / partial sun position will ensure your plant thrives and remember to water moderately. As a guideline, Chili pepper does best between USDA Hardiness Zones 4 and 12. Ideally plant in loamy and sandy soil and try to keep the ph of your soil between the range of 7.0 and 8.5 as Chili pepper likes to be in neutral soil - weakly alkaline soil. Keep in mind when planting that Chili pepper is thought of as half hardy, so although it can survive a small mild cold snap, it is wise to ensure that this plant is protected from frost damage.

See our list of companion Plants for Chili pepper to see which plants you should plant in close proximity to encourage growth.

Growing Chili pepper from seed

Being a warm climate plant, Chilis require warmth to germinate so they will often need to be planted indoors initially. Plant 2-3 seeds per plug / seed tray and cover with a small amount of compost and water in well. Using a seed tray with a lid (or covering the pots / tray with a plastic bag) can be good to keep water levels consistent while germination is occurring. When the chili seedlings have poked through the soil, uncover and sit the tray in a warm sunny location and keep a close eye on their moisture levels. Keep rotating the pots / tray to keep the seedlings growing upright, and repot up when the chili seedlings grow 2-4 leaves.

If more than one seedling per plug / pot survives to this stage, you can either carefully snip the weaker seedlings at the base or you can attempt to separate and repot each seedling. Remember that chili seedlings will be very fragile at this stage, so if you choose to repot take a huge amount of care or you may lose all of them!

Sow 0.2 inches (0.5 cm) deep with a guideline distance of 1.95 inches (5.0 cm). Soil temperature should be kept higher than 18°C / 64°F to ensure good germination.

By our calculations*, you should look at sowing Chili pepper about 38 days before your last frost date .

Transplanting Chili pepper

Transplant out chilis when all danger of frost has passed as they are quite susceptible to cold temperatures and will tend to stunt if planted out too early.

Try to harden off your chili plants for about a week before transplanting by moving them outside for small periods of time each day, gradually leaving them outside all day on the last day before transplanting. This method will ensure that your chili seedlings will be acclimatised to the weather outside and will not go into shock.

A good way to check if your chili plants are ready for transplanting is by keeping an eye on their root systems: when the plants just start to become root-bound this is about the right time to plant them out. Ensure the soil is richly composted and has a good supply of nitrogen as this will give them a good vigorous growth burst.

Ensure that temperatures are mild (minimum night temperatures should be around 14°C / 57°F) and all chance of frost has passed before planting out, as Chili pepper is a half hardy plant.

By our calculations*, you should look at planting out Chili pepper about 14 days after your last frost date.

Harvesting Chili pepper

The time to harvest your chilis will depend on the variety you grow, but in general they should be ready 75 – 90 days from planting. Refer to pictures of the mature plant as they will give you a good idea of what your chilis should look like when ripe, but as a guide most chilis tend to go through a green stage, followed by a reddening phase and then afterwards will tend to go a very dark purple black colour.

The fruit should come off the branch quite easily when ripe, if they are difficult to remove then they may not be ripe and should be left on for a while longer. If you do harvest your chili too early, you can place it in a warm sunny place (like a window sill) for a couple of days and it will often continue to ripen.

To harvest your chilis, use garden clippers or a knife to ensure you don’t damage the branches. If your chili variety is quite hot, it is often a good idea to protect your hands with gloves and wash your hands before you touch your face so that any chili oils on the plant do not irritate your skin.

Try to keep harvesting as the fruit is ready, as this encourages the plant to produce more chilis and will give you a longer growing period.

Seed Saving Chili pepper

Allow peppers to mature on plant. When ready wear gloves to pick and slice open. Remove seeds and let dry. Label and store in a dark dry place.

Seed viability is four years.

Common Chili pepper problems

These problems, diseases and pests are known to affect Chili pepper plants:

Blossom-end rot, Damping-off, Mosaic Virus, Bacterial spot, Southern blight.2

Blister beetles, Cutworms, Tomato hornworms, Pepper weevils, Root-knot nematodes.2

  • Bacterial Leaf Rot

  • Tobacco Mosaic Virus

    Tobacco Mosaic Virus (TMV) is carried by tobacco in cigarettes, and is mainly spread by infected hands touching plants or gardening equipment.

  • Aphids

    Also known as greenfly and blackfly, Aphids are a common sap-sucking garden pest.

  • White Fly

    Small, white winged insects measuring between 1-2 mm (1/16th")

  • Nematodes

  • Verticillium Wilt

    Caused by soil-borne fungi that attacks through the roots and grows upward into the plant, causing wilting of the plant due to water stress. Affects many species and can survive periods of cold weather.

  • Nitrogen Deficiency

  • Magnesium deficiency

  • Excessive Watering

  • Thrips

    Thrips are tiny white coloured flies that feed by burrowing into plant tissue - especially new buds and leaf growth.

  • Spider Mites

    Tetranychus urticae (an animal with over 60 common names, including red spider mite and two-spotted spider mite) is one of many species of plant-feeding mites found in dry environments, and generally considered a pest. It is the most widely known member of the family Tetranychidae or Spider mites. [source http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Horticulture/Tetranychus_urticae]

  • Slugs

    A snail without a shell. A mollusc with an elongated, soft body with a shiny appearance due to the slime coating.

  • Snails

  • Powdery Mildew

    White powdery spot disease that affects a large variety of plants.

  • Phytopthora blight

  • Anthracnose

  • Blossom End Rot

    A dark, indented, irregular-shaped patch that develops at the inferior aspect of the blossom or fruit, travelling out- and up-ward. Caused by an overall lack of calcium in the plant, which itself can be a symptom of multiple issues, including pH imbalance, over-fertilizing, under-watering, planting too soon (too cold). This is not a contagious 'disease' but rather a physiological disorder and lack of nutrients the fruit requires to produce healthy fruit. It cannot "spread" to adjacent plants, although if planted in similar conditions, other plants may suffer the same result.

  • Grey Mold

  • Damping off

  • Pepper Mosaic & Pepper Mottle Virus

  • Tobacco Etch Virus

    Tobacco Etch Virus (TEV) is caused when infected aphids and other insects come into direct contact with the plant. Difficult to control once found - removal of plants is often the only remedy. Tabasco Chile plants are particularly susceptible to this disease. Can also affect perennial weed varieties, these then spread the disease to crops nearby.

Chili pepper Folklore & Trivia

Although having a botanical name epithet of “annuum” meaning annual, the chili pepper is not an annual and can grow for several seasons.

The traditional Christmas plant is the chile plant, not the poinsettia.3

Other names for Chili pepper

Chile pepper, hot pepper, Chilli pepper (atomic)

Capsicum annuum, Capsicum annuum var. longum, Capsicum annuum longum

Misspellings: Capsicum anuum, Chillie, Chily, Chile, Chilli, Chilli Pepper, Chili Pepper, Pepperoni

Latest Chili pepper Reviews

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Chili pepper care instructions

How long does Chili pepper take to grow?

These estimates for how long Chili pepper takes to sprout, grow and harvest are from real observations from real gardeners, right around the world. Start logging and journaling your observations to participate!

When should I plant Chili pepper?

Our when to plant Chili pepper estimates are relative to your last frost date. Enter your frost dates and we'll calculate your sowing and planting dates for you!


Chili pepper Forums

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