The next step. First potting-on

Well ahead of the game

About three weeks ago, I did my first potting on of seedlings for the 2022 season. I repotted some seedlings that germinated about two weeks ago. They are all about two inches tall.  The seedlings, all Habaneros, were transferred into 2-inch plastic pots.  Repotting seedlings into plastic pots is a deviation from the way I normally do things. Usually, I would have transferred them into peat or fibre pots. However, I used plastic on this occasion, as these seedlings will be kept in pots longer than I have done in the past. I will keep them in small containers to constrain their growth.  Because this is the first time I have started seeds this early, I am not sure how big they will grow between now and next June. I am, however, working on the assumption that plants grow slower in winter, so I am not expecting them to grow very big in this period.

At most, I might pot them on only one more time before they are placed into one-litre pots. In the past, I would have used peat or fibre pots for the seedlings, because this made potting on far easier. It wasn’t necessary to remove the seedlings from these pots. The seedlings could simply be placed into a bigger pot as they were (peat or fibre pots and all). They were then covered with compost and ready for the next stage of their development. This year, however, the game plan is somewhat different.

Going big on Habaneros

The hot and the mild

One thing I am really excited about is that these seedlings are Habaneros. As previously mentioned, Habaneros are a variety, for unknown reason have struggled with. I have never brought a Habanero to full maturity. I have decided to change that. For next year’s season, I have started four varieties of Habanero: Orange Habaneros, Bellaformas, Trinidad greens, and Habanero Red Mayas.

Believe this or not, but the Bellaforma and the Trinidad Green are mild Habaneros. They have Scoville heat ratings of 700 SHU and 3000 SHU, respectively. Before coming across these varieties, I always believed Habaneros were hot Chillies with Scoville ratings closer to Scotch Bonnets and the like.  I just never thought of them as mild Chillies. It just goes to show how much there is to learn about these fascinating plants.

The Habanero Maya red, on the other hand, is a totally different kettle of fish. . If it is the Maya red variety, I believe it is, this Maya  has a Scoville rating of 150000 to 325 0000 SHU, which places it in a similar range to Scotch bonnets.  There are however various varieties of Maya reds that all carry the same name.  I will have to wait until they have grown out, before I can definitely say.

Now that the Mayas have germinated, I expect them to develop into fully mature plants in about six months. That means I will need to pot them into one-litre pots in April next year. I will then keep them in these pots until June, when I will repot them into twenty-litre containers. Then, finally, they will be hardened off and placed outside permanently for the rest of the season.

The final word on potting on

Potting on is an essential part of successfully growing Chillies. Keeping the seedlings in small pots will force them to develop their root balls to keep up with their growth. After a while, the roots will stretch to almost every part of their pot. When the seedlings are transferred into larger pots, they immediately start expanding the root system to take advantage of the increased space. This means the plant will develop a massive root structure. The better the root structure, the healthier the plant will be. In the final potting on, the plant is placed in the container in which it will spend the rest of the season. Once again, it will expand its root system the most it can within the constraints of the pot size. Once it has done this, the plant will not grow any bigger, because it will not have a root structure large enough to accommodate any more growth.

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