Chile pepper plants are not hard to grow indoors, but there are seven things they need to have.
They will need room to grow, the right temperature, light, water, air, nutrients, and time.
Room to Grow
All plants like to have room to grow. The above ground portions of the plant need space so leaves can expand and carry out the job of making food. Roots also need room to grow. Plants growing in small spaces will have their roots crowded, which affects growth. The best chile peppers to grow indoors are dwarf ornamental chile peppers, like the NuMex Holiday Line of Ornamental Chile Peppers.
The Right Temperature
Chile pepper plants like the same temperatures as humans. Some may like warmer temperatures while others may prefer more moderate temperatures. For best growth, it is always good to know which species prefers which environments. Many of the different types of Ornamental chile peppers (Capsicum annuums) prefer lots of sun and moderate humidity. Habaneros and Scotch Bonnets (Capsicum chinense) prefer more moderate temperatures and higher humidity. Most chile pepper plants like to have cooler temperatures at night and especially don’t like being in direct hot or cold drafts.
Chile pepper plants being grown indoors like bright light. Windows facing the south or west have the best light. Try to place the plants close to the window to take advantage of all the light. The further away from the window, the darker it becomes. A plant will let you know when it isn’t getting enough light. The stems will be thin and the plant will lean toward the light. If you don’t have a bright window, try using grow lights. Make sure the light is at least six inches above the plants and leave it on for 14-16 hours each day.
Water is important to the chile pepper plant’s ability to make and move nutrients. Watering is a very important part of plant care. Without water, not enough water, or too much water, a plant will die. Most chile pepper plants like to be watered when the top of the soil is slightly dry to the touch. It is important to use containers with drainage holes. When watering, moisten the soil by using enough water so that it starts to come out of the hole in the bottom of the container. Never let your chile plant sit in water for an extended period of time when using a dish to collect the drainage when watering it. Leaving excess water in the dish or over watering your chile plant will cause the roots to rot. How often you water chile plants depends on plant size and time of the year. Your best guide is to feel the soil.
Plants use carbon dioxide in the air and return oxygen to the air. Smoke, gases, and other air pollutants can damage plants. Remember that the plants need to breathe fresh air just like humans.
Most of the nutrients that a chile pepper plant needs are dissolved in water and then taken up by the plant through its roots. Fertilizers will help keep the soil supplied with the nutrients a plant needs. Don’t apply too much too often. Fertilizer won’t solve all of your plant problems, so make sure your plants have good light, good, and drainage. The three most important nutrients are nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. Nitrogen is used for foliage growth and is what gives plants a dark green color. Phosphorous helps plant cell division and aids in flower and seed production and in the development of a strong root system. Potassium helps fight off disease and provides for strong stems. A good balanced fertilizer for chile plants is a 15-15-15, which is stated on the package.
It takes time to grow and care for chile pepper plants. Some species require more time than others. Getting plants to flower or fruit at a certain time can be challenging. Chile pepper seeds can take anywhere from 14-28 days to germinate, then another 90 days to produce fruit.
A Chile Pepper Institute publication, New Mexico State University © 2007