Planting Chilli seeds – Is it too late?

The latest date to sow Chillies

It is not too late to sow Chilli seeds in April and May if you choose the right variety to grow. While the best time to plant chilli seeds in the UK is usually in late winter or early spring, around January to April, depending on your location and weather conditions. This will give the chilli plants plenty of time to grow and mature before the end of the growing season, which is usually around late September to early October.

However, if you missed this window, you could still plant chilli seeds in the UK as late as May or early June, as long as you provide them with optimal growing conditions such as a warm and sheltered location, good quality soil, and plenty of sunlight. You can also consider using a greenhouse or a polytunnel to extend the growing season and protect your plants from cooler temperatures and harsh weather conditions.

It’s important to choose Chilli varieties that have a shorter maturity period, usually between 60 to 90 days, to ensure that they have enough time to produce fruit before the end of the season. Some recommended varieties for late planting in the UK include ‘Apache’, ‘Thai Dragon’, Hungarian Hot Wax’, and ‘Jalapeno’.

These Chillies all fall under the Capscium Annuum species, These are the most commonly cultivated Chill because of  their  relatively short seed to maturity growing period. Other species such as  Capsicum Chinense can take as long as one hundred and eighty days before they reach maturity.  Varieties that fall under the C Chinense species include Scotch Bonnets, Habaneros and the officially the worlds hottest Chilli the Carolina Reaper.

Planting later

Planting seeds in April

Over and above the seeds I planted in January I decided to do a second round of seed planting for this season two weeks ago. In line with the above I planted Hungarian Hot Waxes, Bulgarian Carrots, Long Slim Cayenne’s, Jalapenos, Calabrese, Apache FI , Hungarian Blacks, Cubanelles and Anaheim’s, which all fall under Capsicum Annuum.

Most of these seeds germinated with in seven to ten days and I now have seedlings which range from one inch to two inches in height.  I am waiting for the seedlings to develop their first set of true leaves and will then pot them on for the first time. I anticipate that by the end of May they will be in the region of eight to ten inches high, when It will pot them on for the final time and start the hardening off process so that they can be placed outside permanently

In addition to the C Annuum I have also planted red and yellow Rocotos.  These Chillies fall under Capsicum Pubescens. My reason for doing so is not to get any Chillies from these plants this season, but rather get them to a reasonable size so that I can overwinter them. By doing I will place them in a position to produce a good crop next year.

The reason I have chosen Rocotos is that they are known to be cold weather tolerant and overwinter really well. When it comes to the end of the season at the end of September/ early October I will cut them right back to just a short stem with a couple of branches so that they can become dormant over winter

In summary

While it is better to start your Chillies earlier in the year it is quite feasible that you can still plant seeds now and still get a crop this season. As mentioned however, it is essential to plant varieties with short seed to maturity growing times. For any other varieties plant your seeds in the full realisation that they will need to be overwintered



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