Ever wondered why it is called a Chilli when in fact, it is very hot? I mean, come on. This thing is extremely hot in the mouth, literally. Why the heck will you name it a Chilli then?
Over the years, it has taken up different variations in spelling and pronunciation, according to tonality and nationality.
So, at the moment, this particular commodity has three different variations of spelling and pronunciation: Chile, Chili, and Chilli. The plural versions Chillis and Chillies are accepted.
Anyways, this article is not about the spelling of chilies, but about chili plant growing stages, which include the planting of the seed, germination, flowing, and maturity stage.
First, we will learn more about chili plants, and when best to plant chili plants, then we’ll look at their growing stages one after the other.
What are Chilli Plants?
The chili pepper is one of the berry-fruit of plants from the genus Capsicum, which is a member of the nightshade family called the Solanaceae.
Chilli peppers are famous for their wide use in many different cuisines from different parts of the world as a spice to add pungent 'heat' to the dishes.
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Capsaicin plus its related compounds identified as capsaicinoids are the substances giving chili peppers their intensity when ingested into any delicacy or applied topically.
Chillis leaves vary from small to medium-sized; they can be shiny or dark green. The chili peppers' fruit also varies widely depending on size and shape; they are green to start with. Most of them ripen to a rich red, but it doesn't stop there.
They can also be orange in color, yellow, purple, or even brown.
They may hang facing the ground, or they can grow facing up. There are also ones with ornamental qualities that are freckled with spots.
Chillis are grown worldwide today; they grow chillis over China, India, Turkey, Spain, even Indonesia. But all the green chili peppers they produce put together do not even come near half the Chillis produced from China.
Yep! China is the single largest producer of green Chilli pepper, Guinness book of records winning!
The chili types not only vary in size and color, but they vary widely also with the intensity of their hotness! If you grow chillis for personal consumption, take our advice. Choose your variety with care.
When is Chilli Plant Growing Season?
It's best to start sowing your Chilli seeds from January and February indoors.
Even though there's no harm in sowing the seeds even till the end of March, note that sowing early gives your chillis plenty of time to ripen and grow before the end of summer.
FUN FACT: The hottest varieties need the longest growing period.
Chili Plant Growing Stages
The number of days it takes for a particular variety to reach maturity dramatically varies. Some can start producing ripened fruit in about 60 days from sowing; there are others that can take up to 120 days.
Varieties such as the 'Habanero' take 100 or more days from the potting point before they reach maturity. It goes to say that the planting needs to get started on time, or the fruit will not have enough time to ripen.
FUN FACT: You don't need to eat chillis for them to burn you! Do you doubt that? You just wait till the Habanero chili juice gets under your fingernails for the first time.
Note of Warning!
In the business of cutting fresh chilies, please make sure to scrub your hands thoroughly when you're done. While at it, please don't touch your skin, and most importantly, don't touch your eyes! The hottest chillis out there can make you go blind permanently. No kidding!
When working with dry chili, be VERY careful not to breathe in any whiff of powder. Also, protect your eyes.
We have tried to do justice to the various chili plant growing stages by presenting them in simple, easy-to-read, and easy-to-understand terms for you.
Let's proceed, shall we?
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Stage 1: Get the seeds ready to Plant
There are different approaches to this.
You can buy them already grown chili plants in a nursery, or you can grow them from seed yourself.
FUN FACT: Chilli seeds needs at least 20°C/68°F to germinate well.
You could start growing them all year round if you're in the tropics, but the best option is to let the plants grow strong before the wet season hits them.
Start by spreading open a paper towel; then, place all your chili seeds evenly on it. Proceed by sprinkling droplets of water on them and then fold the paper towel close tightly.
You'll keep this paper aside for about a week but make sure that the paper towel is sprinkled with water daily to keep it moist and damp. Keep it in a warm and semi-wet place.
But then, this step can be skipped. We'll show you how.
The first thing to do if you want to skip that step is to wet your seeds nicely and sow them into the soil at a depth of 3 centimeters.
You'll notice that the chili seeds will germinate after a week. Make sure to water them every day to keep the soil moist and also protect them from harsh winds or intense sun.
2. Germination of the Seeds
Chili plants require airy soil that is steadily drained. It's an added advantage if you add a little bit of manure and mix them together.
The instruction is to keep the soil moist but be careful not to overwater it. Water it depending on the weather. Make sure to maintain a wet-dry-wet-dry cycle of watering.
The seeds will germinate eventually, and then you'll see two small leaves sprout out of the surface of the soil within 7-10 days of your planting.
Continue watering them every alternate day and make it a culture of exposing them to 4-6 hours of sunlight daily.
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3. Flowering of the Plants
The flowers would start budding once the plant is 8-10 inches long in height; you'll notice small buds that will blossom into cute little white flowers after a month.
The flowers will continue to grow for 7-10 days, then fall off. From then on, it's happiness.
You'll see little baby chillis growing in their place.
4. Maturity Stage
Ensure to water and nourish them, and the chillis will grow bigger and bigger.
FUN FACT: The bigger they are, the more potent their spiciness is.
Once the chili is 5-7 centimeters long, you can go ahead to pluck it for consumption. If you want it to get spicier, though, you can leave it on the plant for longer.
The longer you leave it on the plant, the redder. And the redder it gets, the hotter the chili is!
How to Care for Chilli Plants
The first most important thing to note is that Chillis grow in a diverse variety of soils.
They grow better in soils that are rich and tend to produce more fruit, but they also grow in considerably fertile soil and don't need any special treatment. If you use plenty of manure in your garden, the chillis will grow just fine.
If your soil is poor, you'll have to fertilize your chillis, either naturally or synthetically.
While fertilizing, don't forget that like their relatives and other fruiting plants, chilies like potassium. An excessive amount of nitrogen will make them grow soft leaves and 0 fruit.
The most important thing is to keep your chili plants adequately watered and mulched. Retaining the mulch protects the soil from drying out.
Chillis have a tough image, even though they look small and tender. It's tricky to realize that they are sensitive when it comes to lack of water. Ensure your chillis have plenty of it, so they never dry out.
In the same vein, don't overwater; Chillis don't grow in swamps.
Growing chillis in your home and caring for them at the various chili plant growth stages is relatively easy, plus there’s a huge variety to choose from; you won't even be able to exhaust them.
Whether it is the flavor you want, the heat, or the color, there’s a chili pepper seed for every occasion. Take care, though; homegrown chillis can be delicately mild or fiercely hot. You can grow them virtually anywhere, provided you follow those steps we discussed.
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