How to grow Chili Pepper

Capsicum annuum longum group

  • 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.

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 tender 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.

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.

Days to Germination How long does it take Chili pepper to germinate?
11 days

Average 11 days | Min 1 days | Max 28 days (1439)

Days to Transplant How long until I can plant out Chili pepper?
+ 48 days

Average 48 days | Min 1 days | Max 99 days (521)

Days to Maturity How long until Chili pepper is ready for harvest / bloom?
+ 115 days

Average 115 days | Min 4 days | Max 244 days (1371)

Total Growing Days How long does it take to grow Chili pepper?
= 174 days

When should I plant Chili pepper?

Our when to plant Chili pepper estimates are relative to your last frost date.

When to sow The number of days to sow Chili pepper before or after your last frost date.
38 days before Last Frost Date
When to plant out The number of days to plant out Chili pepper before or after your last frost date.
14 days after Last Frost Date

Chili pepper Etymology

Chili is derived from Bahasa word Cili pronounced as Chile.Tagalog an older form of Austronesian Language has the words Sile,Pasite and Pasites.

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


1 Scoville Scale

2 Top 10 Most Common Pepper Plant Pests and Diseases

3 Chili Pepper is states traditional Christmas plant

4 Chile Pepper Magazine


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