The conventional wisdom in growing Chillies is that you should not give them too much water. Many growers even go as far as saying that you should let Chilli plants start wilting before watering them. After all, the argument is that this is what they are used to in nature. Is this really the best advice when it comes to watering Chilli plants ?
For the most part, I agree, but not entirely. Here’s why
How much is needed ?
Isn’t just moist best ?
Chillies definitely don’t like too much water. Indeed. Giving them more than they need is not good for them at all. To me the soil should be kept as evenly moist as possible. Not too dry nor too wet. I allow the soil to dry out slightly between watering and then give them plenty of water. In other words, a deep watering followed by a drying out period.
On the other hand, Chilli plants do seem to shake off being given too little water very quickly. If Chilli plants leaves are beginning to wilt, simply give them a good watering. Within a couple of hours, they will be back to normal. It’s almost that they don’t even notice. It has surprised me no end. It is amazing how quickly and well Chilli plants recover from not being watered in time.
And thereby lies a tale.The overcast weather that we have recently been experiencing in the last couple of weeks caught me off guard. With an overcast sky and the odd shower, I would have expected that my Chillies were getting enough water. Apparently not so.
On two occasions now I found that some plants had dried out. On the first occasion, it was a Scotch bonnet that I had overwintered from last year’s season. Right now, it is laden with Chillies. It is really doing well. I
I reasoned that it had used more water because of all the fruit. Luckily it hadn’t dried out too much. The leaves were limp and wilted, but not badly dry and shrivelled. To rectify this. I immediately gave them a good watering. Within a few hours the plant was looking as healthy as it had previously been.
When doing this I inspected the surfaces of the soil in the pots of my other plants. They all seemed moist. This seemed okay. It’s how I wanted it. As previously mentioned, I do allow the soil to dry out between watering, but only by two to three inches from the surface. I don’t usually allow them to dry out completely . To me, that’s pushing it. If you aren’t careful you can lose a plant. In my opinion it’s just not worth the risk
Caught out again
So, it was to my surprise this morning when I went to see my plants. I found that a couple more (Barak Chillis) had wilted. This was despite the surfaces of the soil seeming moist just a couple of days ago. I thought the plants had more than enough water when I last checked. It seems however that I was mistaken.
They too, (as with the Scotch Bonnet) are bearing lots of Chillies. Could be that it causing this rapid use of water? This could certainly be the case. Plants do need more water when fruiting. Fruit consist of 90 percent plus water. Needless to say, they too received a good watering (as did the rest of my Chilies). True to form, the wilted plants soon bounced back
It was while I was doing this that I noticed that Scotch bonnet previously mentioned didn’t have many flowers on it. This got me thinking. Does under-watering cause flower (aka bloom) drop?
Flower drop is where the plant loses its flowers before they turn into Chillies. I was sure that I read somewhere that it does. Had the Scotch bonnet lost flowers because it had been under watered?
I hadn’t really thought about it at the time. So, I did some research. Turns out there seems to be mixed views on this. There is plenty of mention that starving Chillies of water makes Chillies more pungent, but not much on flower drop being caused by under-watering. There are many other reasons why flower drop this can happen. It just doesn’t seem that there is a definite view on whether flower drop happens when plants wilt. The jury is thus still out on this one
It all seems a bit contradictory, doesn’t it? Allow your Chillies to wilt before watering on one hand and under-watering causes blossom drop on the other. To try and figure this out for myself I will be keeping an eye on the two plants mentioned. I have taken photographs of what they look like at the moment. Right now, they have plenty of flowers. However, let’s see what they look like in a couple of days. This will be interesting. I will let you know what the outcome is