Growing Chillies On the Windowsill

by Matt on August 27, 2010 · 0 comments

in General Information

Matt Simpson

Matt Simpson

We get a few visitors to the nursery, who say that they wish they could grow chillies, but have no garden or greenhouse. It’s a pleasure to tell them that there are quite a few varieties which they can grow on their windowsills. This statement is often greeted with a smile, that broadens as I tell them that the chillies can live for quite a few years in the house.

The house offers some good places for chilli growing, and a few hazards too. Most houses are warmer in winter, than greenhouses, and definitely warmer than outside. This makes it much easier and considerably cheaper to keep through the winters cold. Overwintering chillies has many advantages, mainly being fruit months ahead of spring sown varieties. Now as most folk will know, not all houses are created equally. Old houses often have thick walls and deep windowsills, some houses have a large bay window, others, such as more modern builds lack this space and dept, these factors will control what is suitable for you to grow. Pot size will also have an effect on the size of the plant you grow. For example, a Bulgarian Carrot may get to only 14” inches in a 1litre pot, but to over 2 feet in a 3 litre pot. The amount of light that your plants receive will also have a major effect, if they receive full sunlight, then they tend to grow into shorter bushier plants than those who get less sunlight, these plants tend to grow taller, as they strain to get to the light. This can cause another problem, but it is one that is rectified very simply. Chillies respond very well to pruning. In fact this will be a boon, as after pruning, they produce extra growth from the stem, this extra growth produces more fruit. Most importantly for the windowsill grower, this will lower the plants centre of gravity. There is nothing worse than seeing that you plants have tumbled over, worse case is they have broken on impact, or in some cases caused compost to make a mess on the floor, (a situation which could cause some domestic issues with an untrained spouse).

Thai Mound

Thai Mound

The hazards are fairly simple, but sometimes not to easy to control, pets may go for them, cats are especially bad, as they consider warm and sunny places to be their exclusive domain. However they will only nibble on the fruit once! Dogs and their tails can also be a problem, as can small children. They will learn their lesson soon enough.

Having chosen your variety, (assuming that you’re going to start from seed), some warmth is needed for germination. An airing cupboard is perfect, but do check your sowing as often as possible, as soon as the seeds begin to germinate they will grow like crazy, seedlings left in a near dark airing cupboard will grow so fast that they weaken their stems, and not survive. It’s often best to have the seed in cells or jiffy pellets above a radiator, as they should be in sight, when using an airing cupboard, it sadly becomes a case of being out of sight, out of mind.

Bolivian Rainbow

Bolivian Rainbow

As soon as your seeds have germinated, they should be given as much light as possible, but be careful not to let them dry out. Once they have at least 2 sets of ‘true’ leaves, they can be potted on. Choose you final pot size with care, and remembering that a fully laden plant, will have a higher centre of gravity, especially on a warm day when the growing medium will have dried out. Top tip, place your normal plastic pot inside a more attractive clay/china pot, this will help keep the plant secure.

Suggested varieties. Apache, Bolivian rainbow, Bulgarian Carrot, Chinese Ornamental, Habanero Scutaba, Thai Mound, Zimbabwe Bird, Riot, Aurora, Tri-Colour Variegata (needs trimming but very attractive), Purple Tiger, Nepali Orange, Numex Twilight, Prairie Fire, Red Missile, Sante Fe Grande to name a few.

Matt Simpson and his Family run Simpsons Seeds they have an extensive catalogue of chilli seeds please visit their web site for more information

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