Plug plant care
Fairy Lights chilli plug plant
When you receive your chilli plug plants the jiffy plug may look rather green, or possibly feel a bit slimy. This is natural and is caused by harmless algae growing on the surface. To prevent the plugs from drying out the plants must be potted up immediately. The outer casing of the jiffy plug does not have to be removed before planting. Plant the plug deep enough so that when the compost has settled the jiffy plug is not exposed.
Capsicum annuum (left) and C. chinense (right) chilli plug plants.
Chillies are tender plants that should be raised in a warm environment, such as a conservatory, greenhouse, polytunnel or sunny window sill. If they are kept in a greenhouse or polytunnel be sure the structure is closed at night to keep the warmth in.
Your chilli plants can be grown either in pots or in the ground. Generally the plants will grow larger when given more root space, so plants raised in the ground will be larger than those in pots; and plants in larger pots tend to tend to be bigger than those in smaller pots.
Chilli plants need plenty of light to prevent spindly growth, and should not be overcrowded. They will be bushier if spaced widely.
Chilli plants require a well drained soil. If planted in the ground the soil should be deep and well drained. They should be watered regularly, but not overwatered. Where fertility levels are low, a slow release fertiliser should be worked into the soil just before planting. If planted into pots most commercial multipurpose compost will do. As the plants grow and the compost runs out of nutrient apply a complete liquid fertiliser such as ‘Miracle Grow’ or any tomato based fertiliser should be applied regularly.
Not quite problem-free
Aphids (greenflies) are the pest most likely to be encountered in the home garden. Light infestations can simply be rubbed or washed off the plants with a jet of water. Sprays and bought-in predators should be used for heavier invasions, both of which can be bought from www.defenders.co.uk.
Tobacco mosaic virus is a potential problem controlled by banning smoking around the chillies. Gardeners who smoke should wash their hands or wear rubber gloves before handling seeds and plants. Botrytis (grey mould) may appear in late autumn, though by then most of the fruit have been harvested.
Turtle Claw, Coffee Bean, Pumpkin, Rooster Spur, and Cheeky are all small varieties that grow into bushy, attractive plants that do well in pots, often without needing any support. The other varieties are larger and will need supporting. If they are put in pots it must be a large pot.
• Given unrestricted root space and ideal growing conditions Dorset Naga can grow into very large (up to 5 feet or more), branching plants. When grown in pots they will not reach this size, and will stay quite short if grown in small pots. The bigger the plant the more chillies it will produce.
• Flower drop can be a serious problem with Dorset Naga, and at its worst plants may drop all their flowers and produce no chillies at all. Flower drop happens when the plants are stressed, or more usually when the flowers are not pollinated. Dorset Naga is normally self pollinated aided by the gentle movement of the branches. If the plants are grown where there is no wind/air movement, be sure to have the branches lightly shaken on a regular basis once they start flowering.
• WARNING! The superhots, i.e. Dorset Naga, Bengle Naga and Fire, will produce extremely hot chillies. Handle the fruit with care, especially when the skin is broken. Do not let children have contact with these chillies.
For more information on growing chillies see http://www.seaspringplants.co.uk/gardeners-info/growingchillies
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