You can grow chilies – even with little space.
If you love heat in your culinary creations, you’ll be happy to know that growing hot peppers in containers is not only possible, but easy. It doesn’t matter what your chili of choice is – whether jalapeño, habanero, or something even spicier.- these beautiful edibles will flourish on an urban patio, roof garden, or nearly any other small space if you follow some basic tips.
How to start…
Peppers prefer warmth, so if you live in a cold climate, you will want to start your plants inside and not transplant or move them until nights remain over 55 degrees. In warmer climates, plant seeds directly in the containers they will grow in. Depending on just how hot your area gets, make sure the plants get 5-6 hours daily of morning sun or all-day filtered sun; just don’t plant them in direct sun in hot climates unless you want peppers that are pre-scorched!
Which containers are best?
Peppers aren’t fussy, but they do have fairly substantial root systems that usually need about 14” to stretch out in. You can use 2-gallon containers, but 5-gallon containers will ensure that the pepper plants aren’t crowded.
Remember to make sure that your container and the dish under it have holes in them so that the water can drain. You can cover the holes with mesh to keep from losing soil. Wood, ceramic, clay, plastic, and even metal containers all work for container gardening, but if you are re-using a container for your pepper plants, clean it with one part bleach to nine parts water before planting.
Good planting mix for happy peppers
It’s important to plant peppers in a lightweight potting mix. A good-quality potting mix that has perlite and peat moss in it is the kind of loose, light soil that will help both air and water circulate easily and reward you with a lush crop of flavorful peppers.
Even if you don’t live in a hot climate, you’ll find that container gardening requires more water than plants in the ground. Use the old-fashioned way – your hand – to check the soil for dryness. Drip systems can be useful in hot climates to make sure that the soil remains moist but not wet (no one likes soggy roots!). You can also use mulch to help soil stay moist.
Fertilizing hot peppers
Container vegetable gardening means paying attention to fertilization, and chili peppers are no exception. You can choose a potting mix that already contains fertilizer and get your peppers off to a swinging start. But if you use a mix without fertilizer, remember to feed your contained chilies once a week with a balanced and water-soluble fertilizer.
If you notice that flowers are falling off your plants, cut back on fertilization