Growing hot peppers is a quick way to bring hot color, spicy flavor and great nutrition into your life. How to grow chili peppers in the ground or in pots. Red pepper plant care tips. Hot pepper seeds.
Discover bonchi, bonsai chili, the absolute best way to overwinter your favorite varieties.
The varied flavors and mild to scorching heat of the many types of chili peppers is best enjoyed when you grow your own. They are much easier to grow successfully than bell pepper plants and a lot more durable.
Most make great container gardening plants and they will live for several years if protected from freezing temps. If you are growing hot peppers in the ground, they may survive mild winters (into the mid twenties).
Choose a planting site that gets all day sun. Pepper plants that grow in shade will take forever to ripen and turn red. Pick a spot that will not be exposed to strong winds. Capsicum plants have thin leaves that will wilt badly in the wind.
Enrich the soil where you will be growing hot peppers with organic compost or composted manure prior to planting.
Set chili pepper plants into the soil so that, when you are finished, they are growing at the same depth as they were in their nursery pots. If any roots are visible at the base of the main stem, you can cover those with soil.
If you plan to grow hot peppers in a row, space them half their mature height apart at planting time. Some types of chili peppers grow to just a few inches tall while other varieties top out at 5 feet.
Say, for instance, that you are growing habanero peppers--one of the hottest peppers there is. Habaneros can grow to a height of about 18 inches, so you would space them 9 inches apart.
Slip your transplants out of their pots and check the roots. If they are circling around the bottom of the pot, the plants need to be potted up into larger quarters.
Choose a container that will be big enough for the growing hot peppers to live in for at least a year. Consider what the mature plant will look like in its new pot.
The container may be made of any material. However, if you plan to summer the plants outdoors on a hot patio, you may want to avoid clay. Terra cotta pots wick moisture away from plant roots. This makes them a good choice for cacti and some succulents but Capsicum peppers are thirsty little devils.
Left out all day in the blazing sun in a clay pot, they will struggle to stay hydrated. Plastic pots are better for growing hot peppers in this situation.
Once you've decided on a pot, loosen the pepper's roots and place it into the pot at the same level it was previously growing. Plant it so that the top of the soil is an inch or so below the rim of the pot, leaving room for water.
Place the plants in the brightest light you can give them. A red chili pepper plant will perform poorly unless it gets a great deal of light.
Air circulation is also important, so open a window or turn on a fan (on low) near the plant for a few hours each day.
When choosing a pepper plant houseplant, be mindful of the mature size of the variety you choose.
Ornamental pepper plants make particularly fetching houseplants.
This is the same for indoor and outdoor plants. Keep the soil moist at all times. Cayenne peppers will tolerate a bit of dryness but it doesn't do them any good.
Feed the plants monthly with any water soluble vegetable fertilizer. A hot pepper plant in a pot can be fed using a slow release granular every 3-4 months. Supplement this with a sprinkling of Epsom salts each time they bloom.
Epsom salts encourage fruit set and are a good pepper plant food when used sparingly.
These peppers, pruned and in bonsai pots, are all set to leaf out into beautiful bonsai chilis this winter.
Outdoors: Wait until you see new growth in the spring, then cut the dead potions away.
Indoors: Cut the plants back to about 3-6 inches (depending on how large they grow) in late fall or any time you wish to rejuvenate them. I know this sounds drastic, but it really works. They come back fuller than before.
This is an especially handy technique for growing hot peppers in pots that you wish to overwinter in a frost free garage. They will go into a type of dormancy until the weather warms in the spring.
Keep red pepper plants in this situation on the dry side for the winter. Start watering them when you're ready for them to start growing again in earnest. Do not feed them until you see new leaves emerging.
One of the best ways of growing hot peppers through the winter is to transform them into bonsai subjects at the end of each season.
This is very similar to pruning containerized chilis so that you can protect them from frost. The difference is: you will be repotting the plants into decorative bonsai pots and displaying them on a sunny window ledge.
Chili pepper bonsai are adorable.
They are also productive. Turning your plants into bonchi will allow you to harvest your favorite varieties right thorough the winter.
There is a bonchi tutorial here to guide you through the process of growing hot pepper bonsai.
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