Thursday, September 13, 2007

Growing Chili Peppers Indoors

Hot Peppers...Year round!

At Sage Garden, we learn a lot from Asian grocery stores (and their operators). These are the places where exciting herb and fruit plants often first come to our attention (check out Dong Thai Grocery on Notre Dame Avenue in Winnipeg - this is where we first saw indoor fruiting bananas!). And ubiquitous in Asian grocery stores are gorgeous year round chili pepper plants.

Chili peppers are fun! Just as with herbs, peppers come in a multitude of varieties ranging from the everyday to the extraordinary. Some have beautiful fruits, others splashed with variegated foliage, and others grab you for their potency (I dare you to eat a Fatali Pepper or Chocolate Habanero!). Peppers come with a story; we grow many heritage and regional types that are intrinsically linked to people of a particular time or place. And a fully loaded hot pepper plant inspires the senses - those colorful fruits so tempting yet too hot to handle (but you nibble on one any ways).

Hot peppers are in fact warm climate perennials, making them well suited for indoor growth. On average, a potted pepper can remain productive for 3-5 years. By bringing hot peppers indoors, you get to enjoy the beauty of the plant, can harvest almost non-stop, and get to grow something unique.

In our experience, the best peppers to bring indoors are the Asian style chilies and other types with smaller fruits. Some favourites include the remarkable Black Pearl Pepper, Habanero types (we offer Chocolate, White, and Mustard), and Tricolor Variegated. Jalapeno style chilies do not seem to get as full or attractive, and it is far less common to see these growing indoors. Anyone with experience growing other chilies indoors is invited to post feedback.

Several simple steps will permit hot peppers to thrive for you indoors:

1) Grow them in a rich, organic based potting soil
2) Bring plants indoors around Labour Day weekend, and avoid any exposure to frost
3) Rinse plants under fast flowing fresh water as you bring them indoors, and keep up this practice every couple of weeks indoors
4) Fertilize with a compost based fertilizer
5) Keep plants in the sunniest window available (or under a simple fluorescent light if you do not have a bright indoor space)

Looking forward to hearing how your chilies grow!

Dave, Sage Garden Herbs


greenthumb103 said...

I recently brought in a thai chilli pepper plant inside from outide that was the only change it was producing rapidly and was growing beautifully till I brought it inside the peppers began to become wrinkled right before they turn red I don't understand why this is happening or how to stop it so I can have my delicious peppers once again... Please help thank you.. greenthumb103

Anonymous said...

thanks for your advice, I now have 5 cayenne plants growing indoors, that are all starting to now produce fruit. its been a heap of fun watching these grow from seeds and now to the stage where hopefully Im going to be cooking those chilis soon!

Sage Garden Herbs said...

Greenthumb103 highlights an important point; the one change that can be very dramatic for chili peppers (and many other plants) is the move from outdoors to inside. Some ways to reduce stress during this transition include: bring plants in while day and night temperatures are still warm; remember that your plant likely will need less water indoors; you will be in charge of providing the "wind and the rain" for your plants indoors by way of rinsing under fast flowing fresh water. In addition, remember that there is almost always less light indoors compared to your outdoor location, so pay attention to choosing the brightest available location indoors.

Best wishes - Dave, Sage Garden Herbs