Growing Chillies from Seed: Part 2
Once you have some seedlings to pot-on (see picture below), it is time to separate them and pot them in individual pots. We tend to pot-on gradually, so we use 3” pots first. Using very loose seedling compost will help this stage. We like to use vermiculite on the surface and perlite in the mix.
Using a plant label or pencil, tease a seedling out by gently gripping one of the initial leaves (not the stem) and lifting the soil around the roots with your chosen tool to allow you to lift the seedling clear.
Try not to tug at the seedling as this may damage the roots. If you are going to pot-on all the seedlings, it is sometimes easier to gently tip out the whole seedling pot to allow the compost to break up.
We use John Innes No. 2 Compost to pot-on seedlings, but any good quality compost will be fine. Fill a 3” pot leaving ½” of space from the lip of the pot. Make a hole in the compost (about ½” wide and 2” deep) and place the seedling into the hole. Fill-in around the seedling root and firm the compost down.
If you have seedlings that have become a little ‘leggy’, you can bury them lower in the compost to make them steadier – leave about ½” of step showing.
Water the seedling well and allow to drain. Take care not to let the seedlings sit in water. You can give them a general liquid feed after pricking-out just to get them going. Place the 3” pots somewhere warm and bright.
The seedling should not need further feeding – it will feed from the new compost. Watch for aphids (tilt the pot and gently rub them off onto the floor). Seedlings will benefit from warm compost (20C), so a warming mat or heating tray (no lid needed in most cases).
A 3” opt will be fine for a seedling up to 4”-5”, and then you should think about potting on into a larger pot – say a 6” pot.
The picture below is a ‘Twilight’ chilli seedling that was pricked-out four weeks before:
In the next article we’ll look at potting-on, flowering and fruiting.
Best of luck.
Steve, South Devon Chilli Farm