Growing Chillies from seed


Chilli seeds are slow to germinate and this is probably why with such a poor germination rate

Naga Jolokia ripening

some will rot instead of growing. Most seed companies refreshingly tell you that your seeds will appear within 7 to 21 days.


Our other Chilli pages

Pollinating chillies
Growing indoors

Naga Jolokia
Hot Mexican
Basket of Fire
Orange Wonder
Scotch Bonnets
Prairie Fire

Joe's Long
Poblano Ancho

Paper Lantern
Black Knight
Hungarian Hot Wax
Ghost chilli
Sweet chillies

Re the above: this statement needs qualification because it depends to a great extent on where you live and your growing conditions. If you live here in Derbyshire as we do, or further north, then this will not necessarily apply as it is far colder for far longer than it is in the south.


In an unheated indoor environment you can bank on germination taking a minimum of 15 days and as long as 30 - and by that time you can also bank on a large percentage of them being rotten.


If you have an electric propagator then germination will be far quicker but you must still keep the little plants warm after germination or they will die.


NB Chilli plant flowers do not need to be pollinated by bees


Growing chillies from seed


The main requirements for a seed to germinate are heat, moisture and oxygen. It is possible to germinate your seeds in everything from tissue paper to rock wool cubes, but the easiest growing medium is soil. I use a good compost because it doesn't contain any "nasties" which may be in soil.

Start off with a small tray of compost or a growing tray with either 12 or 24 slots in it - or for smaller growers use a clear plastic egg carton. Fill the tray with damp compost and pop in the seed to a depth of 1 CM. Cover the tray with clear plastic/cling film or a clear plastic domed top. I use 20 mm bubble wrap.


Keeping your compost moist from now on is a must. Cover the whole thing with something transparent such as bubble wrap or a seed tray top (available from nurseries/garden centres) and in due course your chillies will germinate.

However, if you have no heating in your greenhouse, or wherever your chillies are going to germinate then you can expect a far lesser success rate than hoped for, and if you buy some of the Naga seeds at approx. 3.99 for 6 seeds then you really need to ensure 90% germination, and I suspect that will not happen.


The easiest and cheapest way of guaranteeing germination is to invest in a cheap electric propagator which might cost you from 10 to 20 and cost a penny per day or less to run.


After your seeds have germinated you will need to move them to a slightly cooler place lest your plants become spindly.


Grow on like this until a couple of inches high and then transplant to 3" square pots. You will need to transplant at least once more before putting your plants into the largest pot available.


NB: Make sure when handling chilli seeds you either use tweezers or rubber gloves, and don't let a seed touch your skin or it may cause some discomfort.


This is the first year I have grown one of the Naga varieties. I have 2 plants in the greenhouse which are the most prolific of any I have grown at all. Most of these will be given away but I will be keeping a couple of hundred seeds to grow into plants for sale early in 2016.


NB: I am aware that some people like to have a pot or two of chilli peppers on the patio because some of the smaller bushy plants look really superb outside, but if you want lots of fruit from your chillies then keep them well inside.