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The Guide

How to choose the best chilli pepper

Whether you like your chillies delicate and mild or sizzling hot, there’s plenty of choice. Try planting a few different varieties to find the one that suits you. Some of our favourites include:

Cherry Bomb
medium heat and a round shape ideal for stuffing and baking

Jalapeno
medium heat, ideal for salsas and pizza toppings

Padron
pick small and green for medium heat or allow to mature to a much hotter red. This tapas pepper is great in stir fries.

Habanero
hot and beautifully ornamental.

Naga
very hot, attractive dwarf variety bred for windowsills and containers.

How to grow chillies from seed

January and February are the perfect months to start sowing your chilli pepper seeds indoors. Although you can still sow the seeds right up until the end of March, early sowing gives your chillies plenty of time to ripen before the end of summer.

The hotter the  variety the longer  it needs to grow. If you didn’t give yourself enough time to grow from seed this year, don’t worry, you can buy chilli plants from us  too.

Step 1

Start your seeds off indoors – they need plenty of warmth to germinate

Step 2

Fill a seed tray or some 10cm pots with moist seed compost and flatten down

Step 3

Sow a few seeds on top and cover with a fine sprinkling of vermiculite or compost

Step 4

Place in a propagator at a temperature of 18-25C (64-77F). If you don’t have a propagator, use polythene to cover your seed trays and pop them on a sunny windowsill or in a warm airing cupboard

Step 5

Germination usually takes 7-10 days, after which you can move your seedlings to a warm, sunny windowsill (or heated greenhouse)

Step 6

Keep the compost evenly moist but take care not to let it get soaking wet

How to transplant chilli pepper plants

When your chilli seedlings are big enough to handle without breaking, gently transplant them from seed trays into individual pots of compost and grow them on until all risk of frost has passed. When they’re large enough, you can transplant them to their final position, which is usually about May.

You can grow chillies individually, by transplanting them into 2 litre containers, or plant them in grow bags, allowing three plants per bag. Place the pots or growbags undercover in a warm greenhouse, conservatory, or polytunnel.

Alternatively, plant your chillies outside in a sunny, sheltered spot. Gradually acclimatise your plants to outdoor conditions over a period of 7 to 10 days before transplanting them into well prepared beds of fertile, moist, well-drained soil. Space your chilli pepper plants 50cm (20″) apart in the ground.