The best Chillies to grow in the UK

Star performers

Based on my experience this Chilli growing season, I believe I have found some of the best Chillies to grow in the UK. I say this because as at this point in the season, I have some seedlings that are doing exceptionally well. Even though they were planted at roughly the same time as the other varieties, they are just streets ahead.

These Chillies – my Cherry Chilli and a Rocoto are so far ahead of the others; they are already in one-litre pots. My other top performers – another Cherry Chilli, three other Rocotos and three Madame Jeanettes , are still in two and three-inch pots. I expect to pot these seedlings on in the not-too-distant future.

My mega star performers, the Cherry Chilli and the tallest Rocoto, have already been potted on twice. Firstly, they were potted on into three-inch containers, after reaching two inches in height. Once they were three inches tall, they were transplanted into one-litre pots. They will now remain in these pots until they get hardened off. After that, they will be replotted into their final containers, where they will spend the rest of the season

Once seedlings are potted into one-litre pots, I start feeding them with a fertiliser higher in nitrogen. Before being potted- on into these larger containers, they would have been fed with Chilli Focus at a dilution of 2.5ml per litre of water. This is all the fertiliser they would have needed, as up to then, they would have absorbed nutrition from the potting soil in their containers.

However, now that these plants are in one-litre pots, it is essential that they get more fertilisation. So I feed them with a liquid fertiliser with an NPK of 7: 1.3: 4.2. It is a fertiliser with a high nitrogen content. I specifically use it to develop these plants’ foliage and general health until they get hardened off. After that, fertilisation will be changed again to achieve other objectives, like improved flower setting  and fruiting.

More on the star performers

Last years best

Last year, my star performing Chilli was the Apache F1. It is definitely one I would add to this list, as being one of the best Chillies to grow in the United Kingdom. I am also a fan of  Barak Chillies and Satan’s kisses. These are all Chillies that are overwintering well, so I didn’t need to start seeds for them for this season.

One trait that all these Chillies share is that they fall under Capsicum annuum species. This is definitely a species that I find easier to grow in the United Kingdom. It is a trait they share with Cherry Chillies.

Cherry Chilli

While this Chilli is my top performer, I don’t know exactly what type of Cherry Chilli it is. The seedlings are from seeds I saved a couple of years ago.  That’s all I know at this stage. While I marked the seed packet with the name Cherry, I didn’t make a specific note of what type of Cherry Chilli it is. It could be a Cherry bomb, Large Cherry, Sweet Cherry Chilli, or many other possibilities

I am working on the assumption that it is a Cherry bomb. As far as I can recall, that is the only Cherry Chilli I have grown. However, I will have to wait until the plant gets flowers and produces fruit before I identify it properly. In the meantime, the assumption has been made only on the shape of its leaves and the fact that it is known to be a Chilli that is easy to grow.

The  Cherry bomb Chilli  falls under the Capsicum annuum species. It matures in about sixty days from first potting on, so I expect to harvest ripened Chillies from this plant early in the season. Based on my experience this season, starting this Chilli can comfortably be done later in the season. It is currently already eight inches tall. Next year, I will probably start seeds for it in mid January.


My favourites

I am impressed with these Chillies. It is the first time I have grown Rocotos, and I am  following their progress in a series of posts describing every part of their development. The series started with the starting of seeds, and will cover every step of the way until I use them in the kitchen.

The tallest of my Rocoto plants is about five inches tall. The rest are between two and four inches tall. The tallest and another Rocoto plant are in one litre pots. The rest are in two and three inch containers.

Their growth has been remarkable when you consider that I started the seeds in late November last year. Their period from first potting- on to producing fruit is about 100 days. Allowing time for ripening, I expect my first crop towards the end of June.

The reason I believe the Rocotos Chillies have done so well is that they are cold-weather resistant. They fall under Capsicum pubescens. Capsicum pubescens is a species with its origins in the mountainous Andean region in South America. This is a region that can get quite cold during winter. The Rocotos ability to resist cold makes it relatively easy to grow in the United Kingdom and other countries with cold-weather climates

In retrospect, it was probably a little early to have started these seeds in November. When I grow them again in the future, I will be comfortable starting seeds at the beginning of February. This will mean they will not need to be kept in one litre pots, as long as they will be this winter.

Madame Jeanette’s

Another first time Chill for me. Once again, I am impressed. These are healthy Chillies, and they seem to go from strength to strength.

What surprised me about this Chilli is that it falls under Capsicum Chinense. Capsicum Chinense Chillies can take a long time to grow. However, when  I compare it against all the other Chinense species I am growing with a similar heat rating as these Chillies (125 000 to 325000 SHU), the Madam Jeanettes are streets ahead. It is the first time I have seen a Chinense grow this quickly, particularly here in the United Kingdom. As general rule, the hotter a Chilli is, the longer it will take to grow. It really is surprising that they are doing so well!

I started my seeds for this variety in the middle of January, and the seedlings are already well over two inches tall. They were recently potted on into three-inch pots. Being a C chinense Chilli, I expect them to take at least another four months before they reach maturity. Allowing another two months for them to bear fruit and for ripening, I expect to make the first harvest of Chillies from these plants in July. I will then continue to harvest until the beginning of October.

Final thought

These plants are doing so well that unless I am struck by some unforeseen disaster, these plants are bound to thrive.  In fact, the Cherry Bomb is doing so well, it has already got its first buds. Flowers are about to follow. This ties in with its about sixty days from first potting on to maturity period.

While this may seem like a good thing, it is far too early in the season for the plant to flower. This plant hasn’t even been hardened off. So I will be nipping off the buds. By doing this, I will allow the plant to form into a bushier and larger plant earlier in the season. It won’t have to devote its resources to developing fruit, so it  can concentrate instead on vigorous growth

Image credits

Simon Greig / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 / via Flickr

Takeaway / CC BY-SA 4.0  /via Wikimedia Commons

Hankwang / CC BY-SA 3.0 / via Wikimedia Commons





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