How to care for a chilli plant

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Chilli pepper plants are warm season vegetable crops that grow well under glass or in a sunny, sheltered spot outdoors. There are hundreds of varieties of peppers under cultivation and most will grow well in home gardens during the summer.

Sun, warmth and moist, rich soil are paramount to healthy and productive pepper plants with fertiliser boosting their performance.

Plant the chilli in the garden after the last frost and maintain day temperatures between 21 and 27 degrees C (70F to 80F) and overnight temperatures between 15.5 and 21 degrees C (60F to 70F). Flowers can drop when ambient temperatures rise above or fall below this range, so you will need to move the plants inside for autumn, winter and spring.

Provide nutrient-laden but well-draining soil that is light and friable with a slightly acidic pH between 6.0 and 6.8. Amend the soil with compost or aged manure to boost the fertility and adjust the soil pH if required.

Water your pepper plants to keep the soil evenly moist at all times, watering just around the root area and never over the head of the plants as this can cause mildew and other diseases. Be careful not to splash water and soil up onto the leaves so water low and slow to prevent problems.

Fertilise your pepper plants several times during the growing season with a granular vegetable and fruit fertiliser with a guaranteed analysis of 5-10-10 or 8-16-16. When using a fast release formula fertilise in spring, summer and autumn, when using a slow release formula apply in the spring. Apply according to the label dosing directions and water until the soil and fertiliser is drenched to a depth of 15 cm (6 inches).

Mulch around the base of the pepper plants with bark or leaf mould to hold moisture in the soil, prevent the soil from splashing up on to the pepper plant leaves and keep weeds at bay. Pull up any weeds or competing plants immediately when spotted and discard them.