Chilli Plant or Green Chilli Plant also called as Mirchi Plant in Hindi, is a very common household plant in many parts of the world. Green chillies find use in multiple cuisines around the world and are used extensively to add spicy flavor to the food. Red Chillies are sun-dried and ground into powder form to be used as a spice.
Chilli is a fruit of the plants in the genus Capsicum and the plant family Solanaceae. The scientific name of the green chilli plant or mirchi plant is Capsicum Annuum.
The origin of chilli is believed to be in Mexico. India is the largest producer & consumer of chillies in the world. Other major producers are China, Mexico, Peru & Spain.
There are numerous varieties of chilli plant found in different parts of the world. Some chilli plants produce extra spicy small chillies, while others produce varieties less spicy and larger in size than others.
Some large-sized chillies are used as vegetables and are called bell-peppers.
As for the varieties, there are different ways in which chilli is spelled – Chilli, Chili, or Chile. Chile is the Spanish version. In America, Chile was changed to Chili. In England, Australia, and New Zealand, people call it Chilli.
Chilli plant or mirchi plant can be easily grown in home garden or pots or containers. If you take proper care of mirchi plant, you will get an abundant yield. To do so, you must first understand the climatic needs and care measures for chilli plant.
When you try to grow green chilli plant, there can be many questions that come to your mind:
- How to start the chilli plant? How to plant mirchi at home?
- How to grow Chilli Plant from Seed?
- How to care for Green Chilli plant?
- Can you grow chilli plant in pot?
- Why is my chilli plant not flowering?
- Chilli plant is flowering but not fruiting. What to do?
- Chilli plant leaves are curling. What to control the disease?
- What are the diseases of Chilli plant?
- What is the best fertilizer for Chilli plant?
This article aims to demystify everything you need to know about how to grow chilli plant or mirchi plant. I will help you find answers to all the above questions in this article.
Chilli Plant Varieties
There are more than 4000 varieties of Chilli in the world. The most common variety is capsicum annuum which is an annual plant species.
Cultivated chillies can be mainly categorized into these five species:
- Capsicum Annuum
- Capsicum Baccatum
- Capsicum Chinense
- Capsicum Frutescens
- Capsicum Pubescens
Some of the varieties found in India are:
- Jwala- Short, very pungent, light red colored
- Kanthari- Short, highly pungent, ivory white colored
- Kashmiri Chilli- Fleshy with deep red color
- Bhagya Lakshmi- Very tolerant variety (pests and diseases), olive green fruit- turns to dark red on maturity
- Madhya Pradesh GT Sannam- Very pungent, red colored
- TNAU Hybrid Chilli Co1- Light green variety
- PLR1- Glossy in texture
The varieties vary in size, shape, color and hotness.
The hotness of chillies is a result of an ingredient called capsaicin (measured on the Scoville scale). Range of the scale is from 0 (mildest) to 16,000,000 (hottest). The Hottness of chillies also depends on climate, weather, warmness, variety, species, etc.
One of the hottest varieties of chillies is Carolina Reaper (2,200,000 score on the scale)
How to Grow Chilli Plant
Chilli crop (mirchi ki kheti) can be grown on a commercial scale as it is a common everyday spice used in households, especially in India. It can be grown in between other crops as an intercrop or it can be a standalone crop.
It can be intercropped with onion plants.
It is an annual shrub with a branched shoot system. It also has a tap root that runs down in the soil for the search of water.
Chilli Plant Care
To be able to care for Mirchi Plant, you must know the natural habitat or conditions in which the plant thrives.
For every kind of plant, there are some preferable climatic conditions as per the structure and build of the plant. If you understand them, growing and caring for the plant becomes very easy.
The branches of this plant are weak. So if you are growing varieties that are bulky, provide the branches some external support to avoid snapping or breaking off branches.
The roots of this plant are very shallow.
You can prune the plant after the fruiting has stopped.
These plants like to be located in sunny locations. They grow well in tropical and sub-tropical climates with good humid dry weather. Chillies mature well in warm dry weather. They love heat and sunny climates. They grow well in full sun for around 6-8 hours daily.
In very hot climates like that of India, an afternoon shade is good for saving them from heat burn.
Temperatures between 19 -25 degrees Celcius are ideal for its growth. Higher than 37 degrees Celcius temperatures affect the development of chillies.
Heavy rainfall leads to root rotting as chillies do not like water-logged conditions. However low moisture levels during fruiting will lead to buds and fruits dropping off the plant. Hence high humidity levels are ideal for fruit development.
Mirchi plant likes well-drained soil rich in nutrients. The soil should be well-fertilized. Green chilli plant roots are very sensitive to waterlogging. They do not like to stand in water and hence proper drainage is a must when planting the chilli plant in a pot.
They like sandy loam soil or black soil to grow which is well-drained and rich in organic matter. Avoid using clayey soil.
The ideal soil pH is between 6.5 and 7.5. Chilli plant does not like acidic or alkaline soil.
If the soil does not have organic matter, fertilize the soil using organic fertilizers and manures ( I prefer organic for this plant as chillies are consumed directly).
Chilli Plant Leaves
Chilli plant leaves are normally small to medium-sized with a shiny glossy or semi-glossy surface and dark green color.
Potting the Plant
Chillies can be easily grown in pots. The seeds are normally started in seed trays as the seeds are very tiny and they take a long time to develop into stable plants. You can start them directly in the pot as they do not take transplantations very well. However, be careful while watering the seeds initially as they are very prone to damage.
Plant one chilli plant per pot. Remove the other weak plants or repot the other strong plants in other pots.
If you are starting in a seed tray, transplant them once they develop 5-6 leaves (2 in long). Water the soil before transplanting. Do not remove the soil around the roots when transferring to another pot as they do not like their roots to be disturbed.
Chilli Plant Flower
Chilli plant flowers are small white colored with their face hanging down like a pendant. Chillies, when grow, also hang down the plant like chilli plant flowers.
The seeds of the plant are contained within the chilli fruit.
Chilli Plant Diseases
The best way to avoid diseases is to choose a good quality seed that is disease resistant and certified by designated institutes in your country.
You can also consider sterilizing the soil before planting the seeds to avoid any soil-borne diseases.
Chilli plants can contract many diseases like Anthracnose, fruit rot, leaf spot, powdery mildew, mosaic disease, bacterial wilt, dieback, etc.
It can also be attacked by pests like thrips, aphids, spider mites, nematodes, pod borers, grubs, etc. When intercropped with onions, the pest attacks are naturally reduced.
Application of neem cakes helps avoid grubs.
A soil rich in nutrients will help keep the nematodes away.
If your plant is infected, remove the plant/branch immediately to contain the spread of the disease.
You should consider spraying neem oil once every week as a precautionary measure (organic method).
You can install pheromone traps to control attacks by fruit borers.
Alternatively, you can spray Trichoderma.
Mulching the soil is very useful while growing mirchi plant as it helps maintain the quality of soil and keeps the moisture in the topsoil intact.
Green Chilli Plant At Home
When growing green chilli plant at home, harvest the chillies when green for pickling and for use in culinary preparations.
Harvest the red fruit if you want to use them as dry chillies or want to make chilli powder.
Harvest the ripe chillies as soon as they are mature as they will otherwise start wrinkling.
Height of Chilli Plant
Mirchi plant or Chili plant is a small shrub growing up to a height of 6 ft (height varies for different varieties and species).
Chilli Plant Lifecycle
Chilli is an annual shrub (completing the growing cycle in 1 year). However, they can survive for a few years (2-4 years) in warmer regions. Some varieties are perennial (the top portion of the plant dies back each year and regrows in the next growing season) shrubs.
These plants normally take around 200 days to grow from seed to start fruiting. There are some varieties that mature 60 days from the sowing time.
Chilli Plant Growing Stages
Chillis start with white flowers. The flowers are mostly self-pollinating. The pollination results in fruiting which is when the chillies start developing as small-sized fruits. The chillies start with a green color and turn to red color when ripe or mature.
Some chilli varieties hang down while others may face up.
Chilli Plant Fertilizer
You can use vermicompost as an organic fertilizer for the soil. However, you must ensure that the compost must be well rotten to avoid the chance of contracting any disease.
You should apply potassium-rich fertilizers. Nitrogen access will make the plant produce more leaves and lesser chillies ( You don’t want that right !)
You can also use sea-weed-based liquid fertilizers.
Chilli Plant From Seed
Mirchi plant can be grown as either a Rabi or a Kharif crop. It can either be sown in May/June (Kharif). If you want to grow them a Rabi crop, sow the seeds in September/October.
You can also sow seeds in January/February for the summer crops. In the tropics, you can start the seed anytime basically.
Seeds need at least 19-20 degrees Celcius to start germination.
If you live in colder regions, start your seeds just after the end of winter or early spring indoors to provide them warmth. You can use grow lights to grow chillies if your area does not see summers at all.
Chilli plants are normally propagated using seeds. Choose mature seeds which are disease-free and are of good quality. You can buy them at local nursery shops.
If you want a particular variety of chillies, you can collect seeds from a mature (normally red) chilli and sow them directly in the soil about 1/2 inch deep.
Since the seeds are tiny and lightweight, water with the help of a spray bottle otherwise the seeds will get displaced if a heavy water flow is applied to the soil. Keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate.
You can cover the soil with plastic to maintain humidity and help the seeds germinate faster.
You can also propagate chillies using plant cuttings.
Chilli Plant Flowering Time
Chilli plant flowers are usually white with five petals. They normally flower after about 120-150 days of sowing the seeds. But the time is different for different varieties and species.
Irrigating/Watering Mirchi Plant
Chillies do not like to stand in water. Excessive watering can lead to the rotting of roots.
Frequent watering also leads to the shedding of buds and flowers from the plant. The frequency of watering, as I always say, should depend on the climatic conditions where you live and the soil type you are using.
If you see the leaves drooping or losing the turgor pressure, it’s time to water your plants. Normally if the soil moisture drops below 25%, you can water your plant.
Overwatering the water sometimes causes chilli plant leaves curling. This happens because waterlogging around the roots makes oxygen inaccessible to the roots causing the leaves to curl. Leaves may start yellowing and ultimately fall.
Home Vastu and Chilli Plant
As per Vastu, chilli plants are not so good to be planted in homes. But again, if you are a passionate gardener, as per Vastu, the pot of chilli plant should be kept in the north direction.
Uses of Chilli
- Oleoresin, a makor flavoring agent is produced from chillies. It is also used to prepare skin ointments and powders.
- As a herb in food preparations
- A good ornamental houseplant
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