Growing Royal Black chillies from seed

These are plants to get started as early as possible, January or February indoors or in a heated greenhouse – they need lots of light and some heat to get going and as they can be slow to germinate, the quicker you kick them into growth the better!

They vary tremendously in germination time: 21 to 28 days for habanero type chillies while the annums, like the Royal Blacks can appear in 7 days.

I sow mine in normal seed compost, about five seeds to a pot and cover with a tiny sprinkling of the same, before spraying with water, covering with a plastic bag and checking daily to see if they need another squirt. The idea is to stop the top surface from drying and crusting, rather than keeping it wet, as chillies can be a bit fussy about damp. They do like a lot of warmth: sitting on a light windowsill over a radiator is an ideal location for UK-based chilli seeds. Once they do germinate they desire a lot of light too, so you need to turn them daily to stop them becoming leggy as they reach for the sun.

I repot when they have their true leaves, and I do this by lifting each seedling with a little soil, on a household dining fork, this stops any root damage which can affect the plant’s development. They go into 10cm pots at this time, but stay on the windowsill.

Once they are ready to be potted on again, when the roots show through the pots, they go into 30 cm pots and are moved to the unheated greenhouse. This is their final pot size.

I never plant my chillies outside as I like to keep my plants for two years, just in case I don’t get a good germination on the subsequent year’s seed – in a second year they don’t produce as many chillies but as long as they don’t get a frost, they can be kept going. I’ve had a couple of years in the UK where my chilli seedlings haven’t survived to fruit, so keeping back a couple of the previous year’s plants works for me!

Once they start to flower I give them liquid manure with every other watering and hand pollinate with a small brush, moving the pollen from flower to flower and usually getting 50 – 80 tiny chillies per plant. They are black until they mature, at which time they become pillar box red and are medium hot to eat.

I bring my plants into the house to overwinter where they make lovely Christmas houseplants with their chillies still on.

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Monday, January 31, 2011


Anonymous allotments4you said...

I have had two years of good success with my chillies...both planted in the greenhouse and also is my bell peppers I seem to struggle with so I may think about this method for them this year...good luck with your plants!!

January 31, 2011 at 6:12 AM  
Blogger Plantaliscious said...

My "sunny windowsill" isn't getting much sun at the moment, so I have been holding off starting chilli seeds, but I can feel my impatience rising, not helped by a delivery of new seed the other day. May try and build a foil-caked sun-trap to encourage healthy growth and give it a go...

February 4, 2011 at 12:59 AM  

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