Sowing Chilli Seeds

Chillies like a long growing season. They are the first plants that I start and just about the only seeds I sow before mid-end of Feb. I always plan to sow my chillies between Boxing Day and New Year – it can give you a break from the festivities and is a great way to grab an hours peace and get the new growing season started! This year it didn’t happen, but I thought I better get my act together and get the chillies going.

Here I discuss how we start our chilli seeds and the varieties we will be growing this year.

As discussed, our ‘go to’ varieties are: Tongue of fire, Apache (small and hot), Hungarian hot wax, Jalapeno (for pickling), Cayenne (standard cooking). This year the plan is to sow: Hungarian hot wax, Tongue of fire, Cayenne, Jalapeno and we will also be growing:

Inferno F1: A small hot chilli.
Yellow Peter Pepper: Everyone needs some penis shaped chillies right?
Praire Fire: Another small hot chilli
Spaghetti chilli: Very long potentially record breaking chillies!

How to plant chilli seeds
Chilli seeds need a (very) warm and moist atmostphere to germinate. (Typically 25-30 degrees C). An easy way of managing this is to use a heated propagator. My best tip is don’t sow the seed into cold compost (straight out of the greenhouse) or water the compost straight from the cold tap. This can cause the seeds to get wet, but then not germinate and rot and you can lose many of the seeds. To manage this I bring some compost into the house (in a small carrier bag!) a day or so before sowing the seeds. I fill the pots and water the compost and leave in the propagator over night before sowing the seeds. That way you are sowing the seeds straight into warm moist compost. If you don’t have a propagator you can put the pots of compost into a clear sandwich bag, seal this then put the pots in a warm place e.g. an airing cuboard or above the radiator. Check your seeds regularly. They don’t need light to germinate, but you will need to get the seeds into light as soon as they pop through. The seeds take between 7-30 days to germinate depending on the variety. Remove the pots with germinated seeds from the heat to slow down their growth. Keep the small plants in very good light (a conservatory can work well if you don’t have any UV lighting). Initially I keep my propagator under strip lighting on the worktop. This isn’t ‘proper’ UV, but it works well for tiny plants. As soon as I have all the seeds through I move them to the conservatory (and gain my worktop back!). You can sow individual seeds into e.g. coir plugs or sow the seeds into pots of compost and prick them out.