Tips to grow chillies in the container at home
Chilies are among the easiest crops to grow in containers at home, as long as a few specific needs and conditions are satisfied.
Belonging to the capsicum genus, chilies come in a lot of variety; ranging from the hottest known chili, the Carolina reaper as per Guinness book records to the mildest chili the cherry pepper.
In India there are several varieties of chilies that are grown as per the geographical location and environment conditions. Also known as Mirch, chilies are a must-have commodity for any Indian cuisine.
Brought to India in the 16th century by the Portuguese, the chili plant quickly gained popularity because of the ease in growing them and more importantly, the taste and flavor they bring to any dish.
From the hottest chili in India, the Bhut Jolokia, or ghost pepper, to the popularly grown Jwala Chili, there are various ways to grow them in a container at your homes for everyday use.
Firstly, you will need seeds from your local nursery, or you can also buy online from a well-known manufacturer and supplier of seeds. You can also take the seeds from the chilies, ones you cut at home, but the chances of germination rise from the store brought seeds that have been treated as such.
You can also try for a variety of chili which is available online like Aji Lemon, Guntur Chili from Andhra Pradesh, the mild Byadagi chili from Karnataka, or the spicy Naga Viper from the northeast.
There is also colorful chili available in shades of red, yellow, purple, as well as in different shapes and sizes like the Cherry bomb chili, Rounded Black chili, the Dhani Red, or the purple princess, etc.
Chilies need a good sun-lit spot to grow, so you can either choose a well-lit spot in your backyard or use a container in your balcony or near your window as they will need at least 6 hrs. of sun to properly fruit. A chili plant gives more than 100 fruits in a year give or take.
- For a healthy crop, fill your container with loose soil mixed with rich compost or fine vermiculite or seed compost. Chilies benefit from the drying period in between so water the soil medium before sowing and then consistently water them.
- The Chilies which are very hot and spicy like ghost pepper or naga viper should be soaked in water as it increases the chances of them germinating. You can also use a damp paper towel to germinate them.
- Chilies flourish inconsistent temperature so make sure they don’t get more than 8 hrs. of sun, as it will dry the seedlings up real fast. Depending on the climatic conditions, chilies take a few days to weeks to sprout.
- Once they have more than 4 leaves, you can transplant them as per your preference. Chilies are plants that condition themselves to the environment provided so those who have grown a lot more indoors will not be able to adapt if they are put outside in the later stages.
- You can rectify this by hardening the plants with at least a 2-hour exposure to the outside environment.
Also the presence of potassium in the soil will be very beneficial to their growth. Chilies start flowering and fruiting after a month and do not grow well along with weeds. You can also add compost over the plants to supply the nutrients necessary.
Now since chilies have male and female flowers, pollination is required. You can allow it to do so naturally with the help of bees or you can use a small paintbrush to gently brush the flowers of every plant. Do not wipe the pollen off as it will contradict the very use of the brush for pollination.
After the chilies start giving fruit, use a spray to water them to avoid overwatering. The plants only need 2 inches of water so spray accordingly. Make sure you harvest the plants frequently as it will allow the plant to divert its energy towards new fruits and will also allow the plant to provide more bounty.
Chilies also tend to become red when they are ripe so make sure you harvest them before they ripen fully. You can then use them as per your needs or you can also dry them and then crush to make red chili masala. To dry them, leave them in the plants to shrivel up.