Spice Up Your Life By Growing Chillies

05 Dec, 2022

When it comes to taste and flavour, nothing beats the vibrant colour (and heat!) of chillies. These small plants pack a punch when it comes to spice, but they’re mild-mannered when it comes to their required growing conditions. With a few pointers from our experts, you’ll be able to spice up your life (and palate) with a homegrown crop of chillies this summer.

Create a world of flavour

Chillies are an essential ingredient for a variety of cuisines. From Mexican to Indian recipes, adjusting the level of heat is as simple as using a little or less to suit your tastebuds. Dried, fresh or frozen, you have plenty of options when it comes to harvest time.

Chilli lovers also sing their praises when it comes to well being. They’re suggested to be a bumper source of vitamins (including C, B6 and A) and the phytochemical capsaicinoids. Understandably though, less is definitely more and they should only be eaten in small quantities.

Mild or maximum heat? Your guide to choosing chillies.

From mild to firecracker hot, there is plenty of variety when it comes to choosing your perfect chilli plant. The hotness of any given chilli can vary widely. The growing conditions, and how ripe the chilli is when picked, will also impact its fiery flavour.

Follow our guide to make your perfect pick.

Top varieties of chillies

Chillies have a soft spot among the Kings team for being reliable, rewarding growers. Choose from varieties that start with the perfectly petite, to the eye-wateringly spicy. Their visually pleasing foliage also make them a winner. Chillies also thrive in pots, making them ideal for kitchen gardens or small spaces.

Unsure which plant is right for you? Check out our variety heat ratings below.

Bell Pepper, mild

Banana Pepper, mild-med

Jalapeño, med

Hungarian Wax Pepper, med

Manzano, hot

Tabasco, hot

Cayenne, hot

Rocoto, hot

Habanero, very hot

Bhut Jolokia, very very hot

Trinidad Scorpion, very very very hot

Carolina Reaper, very very very very hot

Position and planting

Chillies are best grown in full sun in a spot with free-draining soil.

When planting in the ground, make sure to plant your chillies in a different spot to where you previously grew tomatoes, potatoes, or eggplants - rotating your crops helps to reduce the risk of disease.

To plant in the ground, prepare the soil by weeding, forking and then mixing in compost and sheep pellets. Most varieties will need at least 30cm between each plant (and some will require even more space).

When planting in a pot, use Kings Container Mix. For best results, allow them plenty of room to grow by using a pot no smaller than 20L.

Caring for chillies

Chillies are low maintenance when it comes to care.

Water the plant regularly, keeping the soil moist, but not wet. Where possible, avoid wetting the foliage.

For bumper growth, we recommend feeding them regularly with Kings Tomato Food. Prefer an organic option? Try Aquaticus Organic Garden Booster.

Drying Chillies

When it comes to successfully drying your chilli harvest, start by choosing fruit that is very ripe and free of cuts or blemishes. Once picked, preparation is key:

  • Cut lengthwise and discard seeds.
  • If you live in a dry, warm environment, hang them from a string outside or in a sunny spot inside.
  • Alternatively, place chillies on an oven tray and bake for six to eight hours at 80°C.
  • Store your delicious dried chillies in an airtight jar – and enjoy!

If you opt for drying them naturally, take care to avoid humidity. Otherwise, you may find your chillies become unsightly with mould. If that should occur, immediately dispose of them

Prefer a long harvest?

Unsurprisingly, most chilli varieties available in New Zealand are grown as an annual. If you want to try growing one that is more likely to last through winter, try Rocoto or Manzano. These two varieties are members of the capsicum Pubescens family. This means they can withstand much colder temperatures than their spicy relatives. (Although, do keep in mind that they won’t survive frost). Along with tasting delicious, they can grow to an impressive height – adding a statement feature to your veggie patch.

Grow well with Chilli care essentials

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