Growing Chilis From Seed for indoor or outdoor growing:
January – April is the perfect time to get your Chili Seeds started indoors if you want a fruitful harvest in 2021, even if you are planning on growing your chilis outside after the last frost, they get a great head start if you start now, to maximize your chances of getting loads of fruit in the first year.
So this is my step by step guide to starting chilis inside :
Step 1, Choose the seeds
This is straight forward, it’s good to have a think about what you want to use the fruit for before you choose your seeds, if you are joining the Berlin Superhot Chili project you will need to choose superhot chilis with a Scoville heat unit (SHU) of 1 million-plus SHU, If you are planning to use the chilis for cooking you need to have a rough idea of the heat level that you are comfortable with, i am happy to help, here is a list of my recommendations CLICK HERE
Check out our full list of our available high quality seeds CLICK HERE
WORD OF WARNING there are loads of unscrupulous seed dealers out there, especially on Amazon & Ebay, I know this from experience (not all of them i know), all our seeds on Chili Punk are from trusted suppliers I have gotten to know personally and like.
Step 2, Germinating the seeds
THIS SEASON 2021: we personally are not using the “paper towel method” we are just putting the seeds directly in soil/substrate, see photo below!
You can also just put the seeds in the soil, they will germinate, but the process will be much slower (up to 1 month), main thing is to keep them warm and damp, if you just put the seeds in the soil, there is a good trick to make a lid with some recycled plastic over the pot to keep the moisture in like a small greenhouse.
The above photo is our setup, we have heat mats under the floor, and 6 x 1000 watt lights above, so far so good, we are germinating 2000 seeds here, its really the same process as the “paper towel method” warm and damp!
Whatever method you choose, the most important bit is Chili seeds need moisture & temperature to germinate, around 18-25C (64-77F), if the seeds dry out they will die! You can use a propagation heat mat for this if you have one, but also a warm cupboard or windowsill above a heater works as well.
Step 3, Planting in small pots
Once the seeds have germinated and the green starter leaves have sprouted, move them to individual small pots (around 8cm to start) Chili plants need space and don’t like being cramped in pots together, also when they get bigger the roots get entwined together and be hard to separate later.
You have choices here for the growing medium, the obvious one is regular potting soil, but there can be a few pest problems with store-bought potting soil and sometimes it can be full of pest eggs, like Fungus Gnats or Aphids, so if you want to use potting soil inside i would suggest baking it in the oven for 10 minutes at high heat, to kill any eggs.
For me, I much prefer a coconut substrate with added worm castings and/or bird guano for nutrients to eliminate this problem before it starts.
Once you have potted up the germinated seeds, place them on a sunny windowsill with the most amount of sun possible, less sun they will still grow, but maybe at a slower pace that may also affect the fruit quantity.
At this point you will have a good idea of how many chilis plants will grow successfully, you need to remember that chilis need space to grow, and in the right environment and will all there needs met they will grow big and fast, so you should really think about the final space, you will probably have too many, but Chili seedlings make great presents for your friends, so just give away the extra ones.
Step 4, Planting in large pots
To get the maximum growth and harvest from Chili plants the final pot size is really important, you need a pot at least 30 cm (minimum) but much bigger is much better, a lot of chili growers use 5-gallon pots and even 10-gallon pots, but obviously, your space is the issue, a smaller pot will produce a smaller plant.
Step 5, Chilis outside in spring
If you are planning on putting your chilis outside in spring, there are a few things to remember, you need to wait until after the last frost, in Berlin is usually around the middle of May, its best to check with the Berlin Chili Growers group and copy when everyone else is putting them outside, i would suggest putting them outside in big pots and not planting them in the ground as you will need to bring them inside for the winter, but we can worry about “wintering” at a later date.
Growing chilis is great fun, you wont regret it.
Written by Neil Numb