Chilli seeds can be sown both outdoors and in pots (or containers) indoors; so it all depends on the space you have available. We have seen a vast rise in the number of people taking up container gardening - mainly due to a lot of people wanting to grow their own veg, herbs and chillies who may live in urban areas without the dedicated space.
Because chillies are so versatile, and they come in a number of varieties, they are a very popular seed to buy and sow. From the mild Anaheim Chilli to the extremely hot Armageddon (the name does give it away), there are a number of factors to consider when growing chillies in pots.
What’s also great about growing chillies in pots is that the plant doesn’t need to grow too tall for the chillies to yield in good quantities.
Here’s our guide on how to grow chillies in pots:
Sowing Chilli Seeds in Pots
It’s important to remember that most seeds you’re going to sow require heat, light and water. With that in mind, if you have limited space be mindful of the pot size that will fit comfortably in your dedicated space so that it enables the plant to have room to grow. People often use windowsills to grow their chilli seeds. We’d advise against this due to the inconsistent heat during night and day - particularly in the early months of the year when chillies are an ideal time to sow.
Depending on your space, it is recommended that you increase the size of your pot incrementally as the chilli plant starts to grow. We understand this may not be possible so try your best to go from one pot to another without such a big increase in size. For example, go from a half litre pot to a litre and prune rather than buying pots that are two ends of the spectrum.
The best way to sow your chilli seeds is to use seed compost in the smallest pot you have, initially. A number of seeds can be sown into a seed tray or pot 5mm deep and then pricked out and potted on when 2 true leaves have grown. (True leaves are the second set of leaves to form). With January being a good time to start sowing your chilli seeds, it’s important they are exposed to a good amount of consistent heat and light. If you’re unable to give your chilli seeds natural, consistent heat then investing in a grow lamp may help get the best out of your seeds. However, as mentioned above, there are many varieties of chilli seeds so some may germinate later in the season; take a look at our sowing calendar for guidance.
Once germination has taken place, it may be the best time to repot the plant with your larger container and ensure a bit of the stem is covered with soil. Best results are achieved by placing the tray/pot into a thermostatically-controlled propagator but they will also germinate with the use of a heated tray/mat. They can then be potted on into a 9cm pot until they reach a height of 8cm-15cm tall and then finally re-potted into a 3L/4L pot or straight into the ground if there is open soil in your greenhouse/polytunnel.
It’s also important to be mindful of the drainage that is needed for the chilli seeds to flourish and for roots to have air. Therefore, it’s advisable for any pot that you buy to have the ability for drainage.
Watering Chillies in ContainersIt’s obvious but making sure your chilli seeds are watered correctly is vital to the success of their growth. It starts with the right soil (as stated above) and then knowing when to water them in order to give them the best chance of success. Chillies like to have dry and wet cycles of watering. Therefore, it’s advisable not to water them too regularly and letting the soil dry out and then a good watering will give you the best results. We recommend that you water on the surface with a spray bottle as opposed to watering from the base. Surface watering has less effect on the temperature of the compost. Don't over water and make sure that they are not swimming in water as this will cause the seeds to rot. Watering using a sprayer has less impact.
Because chillies thrive on air, drainage is another important aspect when it comes to watering your seeds. Try your best not to over water the plant and by choosing the right pot it will enable the water to drain correctly and not flood/drown the plant.
Feeding ChilliesVarieties, varieties, varieties. We’ve said this before but it is important to remember which chilli seeds you wish to sow and that will determine how much you need to feed them. In general, chilli seeds require a regular amount of feeding once the food in the soil/compost has been depleted and when the plants start to fruit. Feed them weekly with a potassium rich feed (like a tomato feed) to encourage good fruit.
The Best Time to Harvest ChilliesBy the time your chillies are ready to harvest, you should have moved the plant to a larger pot for room to grow (ideally at the start of germination). The general consensus is to harvest chillies between August and October. Some fruits start off either green or yellow and ripen to red, with other green chillies maturing to orange or yellow. However, don’t be afraid to harvest the green chillies in your pot - if they are firm and glossy then they can be picked when green as these are just a milder flavour versus those that are red.
Storing Your ChilliesAfter harvesting, you can go ahead and start using your chillies right away - the fresher the better! However, because chillies have a shorter harvesting window toward the latter part of summer, it might be worth drying them for use during the winter. You can hang them out to dry or cook them on a low temperature in the oven and freeze for a later date. Excess produce can be frozen, pickled or preserved in oil.
For more information on how to grow chilli seeds, please head over to our Chilli Pepper Growing Guide for a detailed breakdown. Alternatively, if you have a pot ready and want to start your chilli sowing experience, head over to our Chilli Seeds collection and start today!