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Chilli Growing Guide

You’ve bought your chilli plant, you’ve got it home, so what’s next?

Growing Your Chilli Plant

Your chilli plant will perform best in a greenhouse but will produce a good crop in a sunny sheltered location outdoors. It is important that you give it time to adjust to its new environment. Check the compost is moist and if required leave the plant to soak in approximately 5mm water for 5-10 minutes or until the top of the compost is damp. Stand the plant in a warm, light, airy place such as a windowsill or conservatory and allow to grow, ensuring that the compost is kept moist.

Plant out in its final growing position; ideally a pot in a greenhouse or on a sunny, sheltered patio. Alternatively it can be used as an edible border plant but will produce less fruit unless the roots are restricted. As your plant develops the leaves will act as ‘solar panels’, soaking up the daylight and creating lots of sugary loveliness and healthy minerals which will eventually end up in your chillies. Each leaf should have plenty of room to bask in the sun and should be supported off the ground.

If a leaf is in shade it will produce less plant sugars and stay slightly damp, which means it will be more susceptible to disease and produce less and smaller fruit. As the fruit starts to mature and colour, remove some of the leaves around the fruit to assist the ripening.

Prevent your plant drying out with moderate regular watering. As the tiny fruits begin to form, feed weekly with a tomato feed. Keep an eye out for pest and disease problems and treat or remove any affected leaves. You may need to support your plant; one stout cane against the main stem should be enough.

Your plant can grow to 100-120cm in a 7-10 litre pot, however, the hottest chillies are produced when the roots are restricted in a small pot.

How Hot Is Your Pot

Chillies contain a chemical compound called capsaicin. This is what causes that well-known characteristic burning sensation when you eat them.

Back in 1912 an American pharmacist, Wilbur Scoville, developed a way of measuring the level of capsaicin in different varieties of chilli pepper, the Scoville Scale. The number of Scoville heat units (SHU) is related to the level of capsaicin in that particular chilli.

See how your chilli measures up in the heat stakes against other varieties in the Suttons chilli plant range.


Some people like their chilli peppers hot whereas others simply do not. Apparently it all depends on an individual’s palate and how many heat receptors they have in their mouths, which varies greatly among people. This is why one person may experience a mild heat sensation and another will experience an intense burning when eating the same chilli.

The Suttons Chilli Challenge

We at Suttons are not ones to shy away from a challenge. Watch the video below to see members of the Suttons team taste tasting an assortment of chilli peppers.

Know Your Chillies

Here are some fun facts about chilli peppers to impress your friends and family with:

  • The hottest chilli in the world is the Carolina Reaper that measures an eye-watering 2,200,000 SHU
  • The most effective way of cooling down the heat after eating a hot pepper is by eating or drinking dairy products such as milk, yougurt, sour cream, ice cream.
  • Peppers contain more vitamin C than citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons and limes
  • The heat of a chilli actually comes from the fleshy strip that attaches the seed to the fruit, rather than the seed itself.
  • Eating chillies causes the brain to release endorphins, making them the ultimate ‘feel good’ ingredient.
  • In early civilizations, such as the Incas, Mayans and Aztecs, Chilli Peppers were used as a currency

Happy Growing!

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3 thoughts on “Chilli Growing Guide”

  1. Suttons Suttons says:

    Hi Liz, leaf curl can be a result of a few different problems, so you’ll first need to find out what’s causing this: pests, a virus or environmental stress. Leaf curl is common on hot days during summer, as leaves curl in self-defence. If this is the case, try watering them a little in the middle of the day to cool them.

  2. Liz Prescott says:

    What do I do if my tobasco chilli plant has curling leaves please?

  3. John Bamford says:

    Apparantly it has now been found that hot chillies burn fat in your gut . Interesting thing is I have been eating a Birds Eye or Scotch bonnet nearly every day with my lunchtime sandwiches and not only have I lost weight but overturned Type 2 Diabetis!!!

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