Chilli Problems

I need some chilli advice…

I’ve noticed quite a few chilli growers posting their plant pictures up online, with bushy plants and masses of pods.  Mine don’t seem to be any where near the plentiful bounties I’m seeing and so I’m slightly worried, and feeling rather cynical about my chilli growing abilities right now.

Now before you say I shouldn’t go and compare myself to other growers it’s impossible not to.

After all we all pretty much start to sow at the same time (those with the extra heating and lighting tend to start before Jan), we all pot on and as you know this yr I’ve even potted mine into one container each, giving them the extra space.

Even more importantly I’m growing varieties this yr that others have tried and tested and they are growing varieties I’ve tried and tested.

And while some growers have rather cool looking poly tunnels and greenhouses the rest of us have just the plain old compact, plastic covered grow houses and yet still I’ve seen pictures of people’s plants doing exceedingly well.

Yes, I’m jealous

How come most of my plants are only just showing signs of flowering?  What am I doing wrong?  I’ve put some pictures below to show you how uneventful some of my chilli plants are, mostly the 7-Pots and Ring of Fire:


2011 was my best ever yr for growing chillies.  The summer was a good one and I have many photo’s to prove my harvests went well (I say proved because I just had to to go and have a look myself).  By mid-July 2011 I had Aji Crystals,  Naga Jolokias and Hungarian Hot Wax’s all producing many pods by now.  The only difference being that in 2011 they were all kept in a sunny and warm dinning room until they got booted out into a makeshift grow house but even then it didn’t stop them doing well.

I wonder if I need to regulate the heat in the garden grow houses better?  After all one (the new makeshift one) has a front opening and I’ve noticed that while it keeps the heat in most of the day, we had some pretty cold evenings back in May.  The other one has it’s door left open all the time so again maybe at night it’s still too cold for the plants?

I’m feeding them once a week with liquid seaweed, I’m checking them every day for greenfly.  The plants growth looks all healthy enough.

So if anyone can tell me why my plants look like it will take months before I see pods – please tell me!


14 responses to “Chilli Problems

  1. Hi Sophie,
    If it’s any consolation at all, the first flower on my Patio Chillis only opened on the 27th July and I now have a couple of 1cm high chillis growing. The most of the rest of the plants in this variety have now started to flower but they are way behind the cayennes which have 4 or 5 large green peppers each.

    That said the school peppers are in line with my Patio chillis and yet the school ones area also, for the most part, cayennes.

    The only difference is that although both lots moved outside at around the same time (back end of May), mine when into the greenhouse which was firmly closed at night but the school ones went into the polytunnel which has mesh ‘windows’ to allow for ventialtion and so would never have been as warm at night as my greenhouses.

    Take heart: I think it is probably that the unseasonably cold weather we had, even into the first week of June, has slowed the plants down somewhat, especially if they were out in your growhouse from early to mid May? And remember, even if you don’t manage to get all your chillies to ripen fully, they can still be frozen whole if it comes to taking them all of because the weather has become too cold and the plant is failing.

    It might even be worth moving a couple back into the house if you have a spare windowsill.

    • That is much consolation, thank you. I was beginning to get disheartened. Of course I forgot about the cold spring and early sumnmer we had. I’d have all my chilli plants in the house – unfortunately I’d then probably have to move out 😉
      Have a great weekend.

  2. I wouldn’t worry too much Sophie, there’s still plenty of time for your plants to produce. I have some plants that are way behind the rest 🙂

    • That’s good to hear Iggy, it does seem to be the bigger, taller, varieties that seem to be taking an age. I know pinching out isn’t always necessary but I also did that last weekend to a couple of plants just to see if that makes any difference.

  3. Hey Sophie … chillies. They just adore humid environ and close planting with their buddies geraniums. Well ours do. But we live in NZ and in summer Auckland is very humid. All about weather for those plants. Last summer was hot, dry and humid – loads of chillies, the year before we felt like we missed our summer and hence a really poor crop of chilli. Best of luck with yours …

    • Thanks Julie. Yes it seems very varied weather here too. Last year was appalling for growing anything let alone chillies as it was cold and wet right into June. This yr Elaine (earlier comment) reminded me we had quite a cold spring but recently the humidity has soared so was hoping for better results really. I guess I’m just going to have to be patient! Geraniums eh? I’ll have to give that a go…

  4. Hi Sophie – Chilli’s love well drained soil so check to make sure their feet aren’t staying wet. They also flourish when they have a higher than average level of potassium in the soil. Just add some cold ashes from a fire 🙂 cheapest way to add potassium to the soil 🙂
    Best of luck!!

    • Great advice, I forgot about the potash (shame it’s just a bit too hot for a fire at the moment although I’m sure I won’t be saying that for too much longer!). They do have well drained soil though, they are all set on shelves within the grow house that allow good air and water circulation. Thanks again I will remember that advice 🙂

    • Ahh well, I’ve got all but three of my chilli pots filled with compost, the last three having peat-free organic compost as I wanted to try it and see if it made any difference to the plants. So far the only notable difference with the peat-free pots is they need watering more regularly. Both chillies that have still to flower are in both peat and peat-free compost so no issue there so far for me…just goes to show it could be anything!

  5. Hi Sophie,
    I think the most likely cause is cool night time temperatures. I’ve found over the years that chilies love stable temperatures. Depending on where you are, night time temps (combined with cold winds) can really affect growth. To avoid this I quite often move my outdoor plants inside at night to keep them a bit warmer! If there is one thing chilies like it is consistency. Good luck and I’m sure you’ll be drowning in pods soon!


    James (aka

    • Thanks James. Yeah I thought that maybe something to do with it so that’s for that clarification. I’m going to have to see if I can sneak a few plants back in at night 😉 Do the plants mind being moved about much?

    • Thank you for that, good to see not all chillies created equal 😉
      Actually you’re right, they are now taking and I see flowers! Very exciting, I’m just impatient and ‘need’ a greenhouse 😉

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