Spicy food and exotic dishes just wouldn’t be the same without the zing of the hot chilli, those fiery relatives of the sweet capsicum.

These ornamental plants are easy to grow in the vegetable garden and they also perform extremely well in pots where they liven up verandahs, patios and balconies with their abundant crops of scarlet, green, purple and yellow fruits.

There are hundreds of varieties of chillis from which to choose, ranging from the mildest ‘Anaheim’, and ‘Fiesta’ to the fiery ‘Habanero’ and ‘Tabasco’ types. They can be used fresh, dried, pickled or powdered.

Chillies are related to tomatoes and eggplants and love warm weather and regular watering. They can be grown from seed or bought as seedlings, but whichever you choose, there are some important tips for producing bountiful crops.

Chillies thrive in full sun, and although they will grow in semi-shade they won’t produce as many fruits, so make sure you position your pot in a sunny area away from strong winds.

Select a pot at least 30cm (12 in) wide and fill it with a good quality potting mix such as Searles® Herb & Vegetable Potting Mix. Seeds can be sown direct or seedlings can be transplanted into the pot and watered well.

Chillies require constant moisture to produce their small, white flowers, which later develop into the fruit we eat. During average summer weather conditions they will need watering two to three times a week, (although this may vary from area to area depending on soil type, wind exposure and rainfall) paying particular attention to your watering regime during flowering through to fruit set.

To promote better growth and more flowers and fruit, fertilise weekly with SeaMax® Fish & Kelp, a well-balanced formula that promotes good root and plant development.

When the chillies are mature they can be picked and added to your favourite casserole, curry or stir fry, or eaten fresh in salads and dips. Ripe chillies are rich in vitamins A and C, so they’re not only delicious but they’re good for you too.
So remember

• Use a pot at least 30cm wide and position in full sun
• Plant into Searles® Herb & Vegetable Mix
• Water regularly and fertilise weekly with SeaMax® Fish & Kelp.
Growing chillies in pots is as easy as that.

Happy Gardening with Searles from the Searle family.

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