Plucking a plump, homegrown red chilli to add some zip to your cooking can be culinarily satisfying and saves a few pennies, too. Plant species Capsicum Annuum and Capsicum Frutescens produce chilli peppers of varying spiciness, according to the variety. Mini indoor chilli pepper plants, such as compact variety "Apache," don't require much more than a sunny, warm position, regular fertiliser application during flower and fruit production, as well as moderate watering.
Grow chilli plants in a greenhouse, polytunnel, or conservatory, or on a sunny windowsill, and keep free from draughts.. Chilli plants need lots of sunlight and warmth.
Water chilli plants regularly so that the top of the compost is slightly moist to the touch, but not wet. Wait until the compost feels dry before watering. One sign of overwatering is yellowing lower leaves that drop prematurely.
Repot chilli plants as soon as roots start to show through the bottom of the pot. Use a slightly larger pot each time and fill in the gaps with fresh potting compost. Stop repotting once plants are in a 12 cm (5 inch) pot.
Feed indoor chilli plants once a week as soon as you notice flower buds beginning to form. Use a liquid indoor plant feed.
Shake plants gently once a day when flowers are fully open. Chilli plants are self-pollinating but indoors they may not experience enough movement for flower parts to touch. Alternatively, touch a cotton bud to each flower. Flowers falling without forming fruit is a sign of lack of pollination.
Remove the first four or five chillies that grow. If you allow the first fruits to ripen, the plant may not form any more fruit. Chillies that grow after will ripen on the plant if left unpicked.
Pick chillies at any stage. Cropping usually begins from June onwards, and peppers ripen from green to red, although some varieties, such as "Habanero Orange" produce orange fruit, or fruit in other colours.
Keep your plant until next year, when it should produce more chillies. Reduce watering over winter and keep the plant in a warm place, but not next to a direct heat source, such as a radiator. Chilli peppers also make attractive houseplants.
Don't bite into raw chillies to find out how hot they are. Cut the chilli, then cut another vegetable with the same knife and taste that instead.