How to Care for Chilli Plants

Updated February 21, 2017

Chilli plants from the tropical Americas are grown for their edible and ornamental fruits. Chillies can be eaten green or when they ripen and turn red. The peppers feel hot in your mouth because they contain the chemical capsaicin. Chilli plants are perennial, but frost kills them. They are normally grown as annuals in the United States. Chillis also can be grown indoors as houseplants.

Soak your chilli seeds for at least two days prior to sowing. Sow in 5-inch pots with the seeds covered by a fine layer of sieved compost. Sow indoors six to eight weeks before the average date for the last frost in your area. Cover the pots with a layer of plastic to preserve humidity, and place them in a spot with a temperature of 23.9 to 29.4 degrees Celsius.

Plant six- to eight-week-old chillis outside once the last frost has passed and nighttime temperatures have risen above 60F. Choose a spot that receives full sunshine. Plant chillis in well-drained, fertile soil, enriched with 1.36 Kilogram of low nitrogen 5-10-10 fertiliser per 100 square feet. Leave 12 to 18 inches between plants, and 3 feet between rows.

Water your plants thoroughly as soon as they are planted outside. Keep the soil moist at all times, applying enough water to moisten the soil to a depth of 6 inches. Water in the mornings so the leaves have time to dry before nightfall.

Mulch your chilli plants with a 2- to 3-inch layer as soon as they have become established. Once the first fruits have set, apply 3 tablespoons of ammonium nitrate per 10 feet of row.

Transplant chilli seedlings once they are at least eight weeks old or have three to five pairs of true leaves. Use a half-gallon pot for small indoor plants, or a 1.3-gallon pot if you want larger plants. Plant in standard potting compost.

Place indoor chilli plants on a bright windowsill that receives as much sunshine as possible. Water as soon as the soil surface starts to dry out, keeping it evenly moist.

Mist the chilli plants regularly to encourage fruit set. Use canes to support plants that are heavily laden with fruit.


Harden chilli plants grown indoors before planting them outdoors by gradually exposing them to outdoor conditions. Apply extra water to outdoor chilli plants during dry spells.


Never plant chillis in soil that recently held related species such as eggplants or potatoes.

Things You'll Need

  • Potting compost
  • Low nitrogen fertiliser
  • Ammonium nitrate
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