Growing Chillies in Melbourne

In this post:

  • Growing chillies from seed.
  • Saving seed from chillies.
  • Drying chillies.

The plants:

I like growing chilli plants, they crop reliably, they are great to cook with, can be preserved and they look pretty.  What more could you want really?  They do provide one small hazard (or source of potential comedy if you are of a particularly cruel bent) and that is that the fruit are seemingly irresistible to 15 month old hands.   My toddler did only try and eat one once though… predictably there were a lot of tears although that may have been as much from my reaction – a quick hosing down to prevent any of it reaching his eyes, rather than the sympathy he was looking for.  Now that he has learnt the hard way that eating them can be painful he throws them anywhere and everywhere, no doubt much time will be spent next spring weeding out chilli seedlings….

How I grow them – Getting Chillies through winter:

I grow my chillies from seed and in pots.  I have grown them in the ground previously with great success and if I had more room I would favour this option as the plants get bigger and generally the crop is larger.  There is one significant advantage to growing them in pots and that is: they can be over-wintered fairly easily.  Chillies can survive winter in the ground as well but if you have limited space it makes more sense to not have perennial plants in your main beds from a crop rotation perspective, also if the winter is particularly cold or a frost is forcast you can move them to warmer ground so to speak.  All my pot grown chillies survived last winter (which was fairly cold) and consequently fruited considerably earlier than this years seed grown batch.   My garden is fairly sheltered and does not get frost (or has yet to in the 4 years we have been here).  If you plan to over-winter your chilli plants then don’t pot them up in autumn, even though they may look like they need it, and also hold off the fertiliser after about March.  This is because you want to minimise the new growth that either potting them up or feeding them may bring, this new growth is most likely to be susceptible to the colder weather.

I tend to only grow hot chilli varieties.  This year I grew tiny birds eye chillies (pictured above), cayenne, scotch bonnet, a couple of unidentified ‘hot’ varieties and a very long chilli I grew from the seed of one I bought at a farmers market.

How I grow them – Growing Chillies from Seed:

I sow chilli seed anytime between July and September in my usual seed raising mix (for further info see the Planting notes page).  If I sow earlier than September I sow inside as it is too cold outside for the seed to germinate.  I then pot  the seedlings up into 7.5cm ‘herb’ pots in September/October, repot them into 15cm pots in December and a larger pot again (usually about 30cm) in January or whenever they look root bound.  .  I have tried moving the plants straight from herb pots into 30cm pots but the plants often don’t seem to like it – presumably because they don’t like their root system being surrounded by too much potting mix during our coolish Spring months.

I feed them monthly with liquid fertiliser to complement the slow release stuff in their potting mix.  My chillies tend to fruit all autumn into early winter.  Chillies can be eaten at either green or red (or in between) although the flavour will differ as will the heat.  Chillies usually become hotter the riper they get.

Seed Saving: How to extract seed from chillies:

  1. Use the ripest chillies you have for seed saving.  Ideally they should be left on the plant until they are red and a bit ‘over ripe’ or withered.   However they should work as long as the chilli has reached its ripe (almost always red) stage.
  2. Cut the chillies down the middle with a sharp knife .
  3. Scrape out the seeds.
  4. Leave seeds to dry out on kitchen paper.
  5. Once completely dry (a couple of weeks in my lounge room), transfer to a seed envelope or other appropriate receptacle.
  6. Once the weather warms sufficiently (usually September in Melbourne – or August if sown under heat or glass) sow the seed.

Drying Chillies:

I like to preserve the Cayenne type chillies (pictured above) by drying them as they are a good size to use whole, and they are reasonably thin skinned making drying possible (meatier types tend to rot rather than dry).  Finally, they have nice thick and long stalks which make them easy to string up which is my preferred method of drying.  To string them I use a needle and thread to pierce the stem of the chilli and thread the chillies along the length of the thread which can then be hung for drying.  Occasionally a chilli will rot rather that dry – remove any that do this from the string before they can affect the other chillies.  Dried chillies can either be used dried (usually be frying in hot oil to draw out the flavour) or rehydrated (by soaking in water).

For recipes containing Chillies see the spicy section in the Recipe Index.

This entry was posted in Autumn Harvesting, Chillies, Capsicum & Eggplant, Spring Planting and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

67 Responses to Growing Chillies in Melbourne

  1. Christina says:

    Thanks for your useful advice for growing chillies in a Melbourne climate,
    I am a novice and most websites don’t cater for our climate or seasons as they are
    mostly from UK or USA, so this information was a gem for me.
    I had a similar experience with my daughter at the supermarket when she was young, she decided to try a chilli when my back was turned, when I realised what she had done I quickly bought a milk drink and gave it to her as fast as she would drink it!
    20 years later she hates hot, spicy food and will never again eat a chilli!

    • Liz says:

      Hi Christina, Oh no, your poor daughter, fortunately I was at home making is easier to deal with I think. Its a shame she doesn’t appreciate spicy food. My dad use to be like that, but they planned to holiday in Indonesia and went into ‘chilli training’, a little bit more each day and now loves then. I do think they are addictive. Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment – I do appreciate it.

  2. burntAGAIN says:

    Have you had a go at growing different varieties of chilli ? I am trying to ascertain more information on growing from seed…. Poblano’s, Mulato’s,Scarlet lantern’s and Shishito’s , I am in central vic, with a touch more altitude and generally more summer heat.. So far its taken me many months to get seeds to strike , and now the seedlings just seem to be slowly moving along.

    Ive also put in the Black Pearl and red /orange Habanero varieties… from commercial seedlings. Alas the Black Pearl plant which is doing quite well seems to be little green bug city, especially on the underside of the leaves.. Any advice oon this..

    • Liz says:

      Whilst I’m not particularly familiar with those varieties I do know that some varieties need warmer weather to germinate than others. My guess is that yours needed warm conditions which have only been recently achieved (even if the days are relatively warm cold nights may be the issue). I do find that some Capsicums (including chillies) are really slow growing at first but once they get established they do well. I have plants that took until Feb/March last year to reach a decent size but still cropped in April/May and having survived the winter are now setting fruit which should be harvestable next month.

      Regarding your little green bug without having seen them it is a little difficult but could they be aphids? If so a quick blast with the hose should dislodge them but they may return. Pyrethrum kills them if you are comfortable using that, although you want to make sure you aren’t killing ladybirds at the same time. Ladybirds eat aphids so if your garden attracts lots of them the aphids become less of an issue.

    • Chilli grower says:

      If you have altitude and a cooler climate. Try growing any of the pubescens. Rocotos and Locotos are awesome plants for a cooler climate. They are heavy fruiters as well and taste lovely.

  3. Michael says:

    Great to read info in relation to Melbournes’ climate.
    This summer was my first attempt at growing Jalapenos and Habaneros but i didnt get great results, so far only a couple of Jalapeno and nothing from the Habaneros. Im thinking about building a tempory greenhouse over my in ground plants to get them through winter. Will it be worth my effort?

    • Liz says:

      Hi Michael, Sorry to hear you haven’t got the results you wanted. I haven’t grown Habaneros previously – I have one this year that is one of the milder Habanero varieties (called Tobago Seasoning) but as yet I can’t say whether or not it will get through winter. A friend of mine said he tried Habaneros (not sure of variety) in Adelaide and got one through one winter out of about 5 attempts. In theory Adelaide is milder than Melbourne but not always so you could try but perhaps without too much expectation. I have overwintered Jalapeno before. My garden’s micro climate means we don’t get frost and it is pretty sheltered. I didn’t give it any additional protection (other than what the garden already offered) and it came through OK – from memory fruiting earlier the following year. I do remember the plant succumbing to disease later that year and I haven’t tried since. If your Jalapeno plants are pretty healthy then they might get through without a greenhouse provided your micro climate is both frost free and sheltered. I wouldn’t feed them again until Spring because new growth is most susceptible to the cold. Don’t prune either – I definitely get my best regrowth on unpruned plants then I tidy them up in late Spring when they are really up and going. With a greenhouse I would hope they would get through, provided our winter isn’t too extreme. If they do you should get a much better crop – bigger and earlier – next year.

  4. Chilli grower says:

    I would try using larger pots again if I were you as it is definitely the way to go. I use 400mm pots and get enormous plants with very high yield. Maybe a change in your growing medium would help with this and maximizing the amount of sun they get. Also soil drenching with compost tea will promote a healthier root system that will fill your pot. 15cm pots are what i use for seedlings and are normally root bound in a month and a half. There is a chap that has a gourmet chilli company in melbourne that grows his entire crop for sauces seeds etc in his suburban block. Google Junglerain and you will find him. He is a true pro in your neck of the woods has very good info to share.

    • Liz says:

      I do general use larger pots after the 15cm stage, usually repotting them in Jan if/when (I find it depends on variety a bit) they become root bound – you’re absolutely right about 15cm being too small for really mature plants – I should have included that in the post. I do find if I go from herb pots to say 30cm pots too early in our growing season the plants don’t like it – too much cold wet potting mix I’m presuming – particularly in years when we have a cool Spring. But again you’re right I haven’t really experimented with growing mediums – I’ve just used potting mix so mixing it with something like perlite to improve drainage may help. Personnally I like using 30 cm pots for chillies as they still crop reasonably well in them (enough for me to make a years supply of sambal anyway), and that way I can save the larger pot sizes for things that really wont crop at all well in smaller pots. But that is a space issue rather than anything else. Thanks for the info on Junglerain – his site looks great – really good tips.

  5. tony says:

    Hi Guys if your not ready for taking on the growing from seed part there is a shop/stall in Preston market that sells a variety of chilli plants at different stages of growth.I bought a Tiny Samoan chilli from him 4 years ago which he said wouldnt grow much more and last maybe two years it is 75 cms tall and is a very productive plant. I live in the outer eastern suburbs of melbourne so get some frosts so i bring my plants in during coldest month but they are outside for the rest of the year growing well. Wild Thai,Ghost,Jalapeno and Samoan .Trying Scotch bonnet ,Butch T and Dorset naga this year .

    • Liz says:

      Fab advice Tony. I keep meaning to check that shop out as I’ve heard people mention it before. I reckon this might be the year as the slugs got to my seedlings this year.

      • tony says:

        the guy who runs it is generally good for a bit of advice too.I have just returned from a trip to Masters at South Morang and they now stock a great range of chillies , i would say they have between 15 to 20 varieties including some of the super hots , i got a chocolate habanero and a yellow naga , i’m trying to get some Scotch bonnets up from seeds but not having much luck if anyone has some advice or a good seed/plant seller it would be much appreciated .Im trying Jiffy pots,wet paper towel germinate and straight seed raising mix .

  6. Jason says:

    I planted my Trinidad Scorpion Butch T last year in January and they sprouted and grew in November. They are growing fairly fast in the last month (around 10cms of height). They’ve got holes in their leaves thoguh and i squashed a few bugs. How do i stop bugs from eating my precious chilli plant leaves? Also i planted around 5o seeds, with mixed results. Only 3 of the 10 from jiffy pots sprouted and all my seeds i platned into soil/seedling mix never sprouted… At least my 3 are growing strong and is it true that apparently if you plant dill with your chilli plants, it has a pesticide effect? fyi – I live in Dandenong.

    • Liz says:

      I have to say I’m not sure about dill having a pesticide effect, it can’t hurt to try though. If you are looking for an organic bug killer pyrethrum works well but be aware that it kills the good bugs as well as the bad ones. Keeping an eye on your plants and removing any you find on them is often pretty effective. Hopefully they will grow quicker than the bugs can eat them and the two things can happily co-exist. My best guess regarding the failure of your seeds to germinate is that it wasn’t warm enough. When did you sow? Otherwise either too wet or too dry might have an impact. I would do a germination test with the seed to make sure its viable. To do this: put some seeds on damp paper towel and place inside a plastic bag in a warm place. If the seeds are viable they should germinate using this method. Once you know they are viable seed you can consider what other environmental factor affected their failure to germinate.

  7. Ella says:

    I planted 4 bird’s eye chilli bushes about 3 months ago, and they are growing really nicely and steadily, but I have one problem…my chillis aren’t turning red.
    There are so many chillis growing, and they are really long (some up to 7cm) but they are steadfastly green. I have seen about 4 red chillis but they were red from the get-go when they were still tiny buds, and didn’t grow anywhere near as long as the others. Are the long green ones going to turn red or should I harvest them now?

    • Liz says:

      Hi Ella, Sorry for the delay in replying – If you prefer them red then I would definitely wait. Although I’ve had a few turn red on my plants they were all on plants planted last year. The ones from this year all have green chillies on them. I find April/May is my peak chilli harvesting period.

  8. Peter says:

    Hi Liz,

    have you ever tried to deep-freeze your chilis? I find it conserves the flavor much better than drying them, especially with Habaneros and other tasty varieties.
    Since I live in Germany there’s no way to leave the plants outside in winter, so I always grow them in pots, cut them back in autumn and put them on the windowsill during winter. Most varieties survive even this treatment …
    By the way, I use a long-term tomato-fertilizer which works quite well.
    Thanks for your tips! My brother lives in Perth an found them very helpful.

    • Liz says:

      I haven’t frozen chillies before but will definitely try it. Unfortunately my freezer is very small and once I have frozen enough basil for a few meals most of the freezer is pretty much used (except for the space I keep for ice cream…..).

  9. William says:


    • Liz says:

      It sounds like it is doing really well William. I would water as often as you need to ensure the pot doesn’t dry out – may be every day or maybe less while the plant is still filling out the pot. It’s great that you are getting flowers this early. With that amount of sun you should get fruit but you would get more if it had sun for longer during the day. If that isn’t possible don’t worry you should still get chillies just not as many as if it had full sun.

  10. Mike says:

    Just wanted to say your site is very informative. I have a Carolina Reaper I’m growing for the first time, a lone survivor of 10 I started from seed. About 1 week ago I re-potted it after I saw the second set of leaves (so far so good). But, it doesn’t seems to be growing now, I’m not sure what I need to do. I have added a link to a photo (19/11/14) .
    It would be a real shame to lose it after it has battled through to this point. Should I be watering with fertilizer daily to give it a boost, is that the best way? It’s getting 6 hrs sun/day so do you think it might need more sun? Any help would be appreciated…thanks.

    • Liz says:

      Hi Mike, Thanks for visiting. I often find that plants and particularly chillies can take a bit of time to start growing again after transplant. Chillies particularly seem to dislike being surrounded by large amounts of damp compost. I would ensure it is in a warm place and just wait. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend watering too often unless it is drying out as over watering may be part of the problem. If you’re in Melbourne the last couple of warm days should have helped it along (hopefully). I think a weekly or even fortnightly liquid feed would be enough, although that may depend on the levels of fertiliser in your growing medium.

      • Mike says:

        I am watering way too often it seems (daily!). I’ll cut right back and see if that helps. I’m trying to give it sun all day. Thanks for the tip.

  11. Pieta says:

    Hi there,

    Just a question- I just potted a small chilli plant that did have some fruit on top already. It’s been planted in a greensmart pot. I’ve had it outside though this past week on the patio in full sun (but hasn’t been that sunny) and the actual fruits are turning brownish purple – well the green ones are, not the orange. I’m clearly a novixe… any advice?

    • Liz says:

      Chillies often turn brownish purple before they go red or orange. If the plant looks healthy I would just wait for them to change colour again.

  12. Sharon says:

    Hi Liz,

    I have bought 3 birds eye chilli saplings from Bunnings and potted them in September. It is now late December and the saplings have little growth with a few extra leaves, but seem to be stunted in height possibly due to Melbourne having rather cooler days during the last couple of months. The pots get sunlight at mid-day (10am to 2pm). I water every alternate day, and with a seaweed solution once every fortnight. What can I do to help my chilli saplings thrive, considering we would only have the next couple of months (Jan & Feb) with warmer temperatures before it goes back down below 25C in March?

    Also, what can I do over winter to ensure they survive? I do not get much sunlight indoors during the winter months. Would they still survive if I move the pots indoors with little or no sunlight?

    • Liz says:

      Hi Sharon, If you can give them a bit more sun they should appreciate it. Otherwise I would be patient, they should do fine even with 4 hours, especially given the care you are giving them. Don’t worry too much about it getting cooler in March, as long as you don’t get frost and they have set some fruit by then you should get a crop. I find that they produce into early winter in Coburg. Re: overwintering them, I have just left Birds eye out in the garden in its pot and it has been fine, provided winter is relatively mild. If you live in a part of Melbourne which gets frost it will need to be somewhere warmer though. Moving them indoors could work – I haven’t tried it personally so I can’t offer much advice but I wouldn’t worry too much about lack of sunlight as unless the plant likes you heating (a possibility) then it will be pretty much dormant during the cold of winter.

  13. Gerry Nass says:

    I have found a great chilli seed bank called Fireworks Foods. I want to grow chills from seed and read your advise that you sow the seed from June onwards. How many seeds do you add to a pot? And do you cover in plastic?
    Also could I sow the seed in January if I’m not in a hurry to fruit?

    • Liz says:

      Thanks for the Fireworks Foods tip. Regarding sowing in January it depends on whether you can get them through the winter. If you live in a climate warm enough not to get frost and you choose the right variety then maybe. My concern would be that the plants wouldn’t be well established before it gets cold. If you do try I would love to hear how you get on. when I sow in June I do it indoors as they do need a bit of warmth to germinate.

  14. Brett says:

    Hi I’m from the adelaide hills is SA. Not sure if you have been here in winter but it does get quite cold and frosty every now and again. I’ve started growing chillis out the back of my unit in pots as there is no garden bed. During the winter would my plants be alright underneath the shade cloth out the back away from the frost but still in view of any sunlight or should i bring them inside where its warmer?

    • Liz says:

      Hi Brett,
      I probably depends a bit on the variety of chilli. Some are definitely more hardy than others. Mine stay in pots in back garden which doesn’t got frost (although sometimes the exposed nature strip in front of my house does). I find most varieties survive OK but there are some like Birds Eye where it depends a bit on how cold a winter we get. If you have a reasonable number of plants I’d probably experiment a bit, bring a couple in and leave a couple out and see how they do.

  15. Nikita says:

    Hello, thank you for the informative post. I was wondering if I need to prune my chilli plants? They are about a meter tall, they came with the house I moved into, I’ve harvested the chillies, and there appears to be some new leaves coming on. Any advice appreciated 🙂

    • Liz says:

      Hi nikita,

      Sorry for the slow reply – I wouldn’t worry about pruning them, except for obviously dead branches. Leave them to regenerate and that should mean you get the most chillies out of them.

  16. Kent says:

    Hi. I got 2 potted chili. Just wondering do you ever prune your chili after winter or spring?. I had lots of chili from the plants around Jun to July. The stem that bared the fruits is still there. Now it’s flowering again but it seems like it is a tight squeeze for the flowers because of the old chili stems. I was wondering if i should prune it down all the way down branch. Thanks!.

    • Liz says:

      Not sure where you are but if a cooler climate I wouldn’t prune – I find they are slow to come back so unless you want to change the look of the plant I’d hold off – you should get more chillies that way.

  17. Hello my name Is Ranju Ranu Benedek I'm really after this chilli plant known as bell chilli or bishop crown if u can help me I need plant or seeds says:

    Hope to here from u soon

  18. Tom says:

    Hi liz.

    Thankyou so much for your incredibly informative information I am amazed by the fact your reply to everyone’s comments on here no matter how silly we novices can be. I too live in Coburg and have recently started my first vegetable garden. I have learnt some lessons very quickly but have also gained some incredible enjoyment out of watching my garden grow and I am also now reaping he benefits in fresh greens for our meals.

    My question is regarding the chillies. I have Birdseye, habaneros, firecracker, black chillis and some fire chilli growing in a section of my garden and here is where I will come to a mistake. I wish I had of planted them in pots from the start and am now wondering if it is possible to pot them safely for winter, and if so when is the right time to do so. Should I do it now and get them growing strongly for the end of summer and autumn or should I wait until it starts to get colder again?

    Once again, thankyou so much for all the information. It is very much appreciated by us here.

    Regards. Tom.

    • Liz says:

      Hi Tom,
      Glad you are enjoying the blog – I wish I had more time to post more often but oh well. Regarding your chillies the answer probably depends in part when you planted them out. If it was this Spring then they can probably be moved with little damage provided you dig them up with most of their root system intact. If on the other hand you’ve overwintered them in the ground I would probably leave them where they are for now and then move them in Autumn when they start to be dormant. This is primarily because their root systems will be more established making them most difficult to relocate successfully, but also because moving them will set back their growth which will result in reduced crop this year. Hope that makes sense. Let me know if you want more info. Liz

  19. Daniel says:

    Hi There,

    I am a first time chilli grower and need some advice/help.
    I have managed to sprout about a dozen Cayenne chillies and have potted them with some success. I have also been given a Carolina Reaper already started, which I have also repotted. The big problem that I am having at the moment is that the leaves of all of the plants are turning yellow. I have been watering with worm juice (water mixed with worm castings) every couple of days, and have been placing them in as much direct sunlight as possible (Varies from day to day between no light to 6-8 hours a day). I have been bringing them in at night to try to reduce the temperature variance as there are still some cold nights at the moment.
    I am thinking that the problem may lay with the nature of repotting as I was a little too enthusiastic and think I may have upset the plants by repotting too soon. Is there anything that can be done to help these little beauties along?


    • Liz says:

      The yellowing suggests nutrient deficiency but if you’ve fed them worm juice perhaps not. I would try a little slow release fertiliser in each pot and try not to over water them. I find that sometimes they struggle in a lot of wet compost/potting mix. Hopefully the warm temps this week will have sorted them out but if not definitely try a different fertiliser as perhaps the worm juice just isn’t enough. Sorry for the slow response and I’d love to know how they are getting along.

  20. Allen says:

    Thanks Liz for the great advice, I have been growing chilies for a few years now with great results from germinating them from seed but I also buy commercially produced seedlings as well, Last year I planted over a hundred but mainly a variety I bought called fire which I had bucket loads and bucket loads of, Ive also grown jalapeno and this year I have maybe 60 – 70 fire chilies in, Maybe more, also jalapenos, habeneros Thai birdseye and long red cayenne, I find as Im in central vic and the summers are hot and dry they really love the heat but also tolerate the clay soils well. Ive found that finding a variety that works well for me and then just multiplying the numbers works the best, as my Thai birdseye chilies arnt the most prolific whilst the jalapeno fire and long red cayenne I get great results so its stick to something that works well and go for it, Ive had some problems with habanero’s in previous years and this year Ive stuck with them and I think they might come good, But I only have maybe ten or twelve planted. I use a different range of fertilisers as I have a property with cattle sheep and pigs I find sheep manure to be the best but chook manure if its aged off is also great mixed in with some sawdust or straw. I tried bulking up a bed with cow poo like a lot for my habaneros as previous years Ive thought maybe it was the salt in the clay soils that was having a detrimental effect on them..
    Last year the best thing I did was to give buckets and buckets of them away to family and friends and the things that everyone did with them from hanging and drying them to infusing them in oil making pastes and sauces has given me renewed enthusiasm to grow just as many.
    I stage my plantings through spring and like today was 39 degrees if Ive seedlings planted I water them five or six times a day but at the moment as we had a frost free spring pretty much I already have chilies ( and lots ).
    Anyway just wanted to say thanks I enjoyed reading your article.

    • Liz says:

      Fabulous comment – really enjoyed reading about your experiences. Its interesting how different varieties do well in different places. I like that you’ve stuck with the Habaneros as I think different varieties do respond differently in different years as well. Love that you gave so many away and that people found so much to do with them. My Jalapeno plants have fruit on them but very green fruit and they are my first ones so you’re well ahead of me this year.

  21. Brett Riley says:

    Hi Liz,

    I am referring to Ranju’s comment on Nov 2nd regarding Bell Chilli seeds. She is my neighbour and asked me to find out how much the bell chilli seeds would cost and if you can mail them to her. We live in Bentleigh East in Melbourne.

    Many thanks


  22. Anti says:

    I tried growing from seed and potted some 5 cm seedlings only to have something eat them all at 1 cm high. i assume a snail.

    next i bought eight 10 cm comercial seedlings in a punnet and left them a couple of hot days without water before going to replant only to find them badly wilted. brought them inside and gave them regular water and they recovered. they are now 20-30 cm and i’ve just replanted into large outdoor pots from the small comercial seedling container.

    as i was seperating them i realised i was probably damaging the roots as they were all intertwined and i broke the tray into 8, inch cubed, root balls. would replanting sooner have been less damaging? is there anything i can do now to help them survive the transplanting better?

    • Liz says:

      Hi Anti, Yes replanting sooner probably would have helped purely because their root system wouldn’t have been as developed – so less likely to be really intertwined. Having said that the loss of a few roots is probably inevitable when planting out form punnets and the plants usually go on to recover. Ensuring they don’t dry out is probably the most important thing now.

  23. Judith says:

    Great advice. So excited to embark on my chilli planting journey 🙂

  24. Michael says:

    Hi Guys,
    I’m located in Dimboola between Melbourne and Adelaide and the temperature here is usually 5 degrees hotter than Melbourne I previously lived in Geelong and was growing a Birdseye chilli with little luck since I’ve moved a month ago I have taken 46 chillies from the plant so the weather must be excellent assume, I do have a question, I have currently ordered seeds from America and will receive them in the next two weeks being Black Pearl, White Bhut Jolokia and Choclate Habanero can I successfull plant them at this time of year to grow for next season?

  25. Mick says:

    Hi Liz,
    Thanks for your great advice, it is great to find some tips for our neck of the woods as opposed to most of the other info out there which is basically all for the US or Britain. I am very new to trying to grow chillis but have been a big fan of super hot sauces after a few episodes of man vs food stirred my interest, I’ve tried plenty of commercial sauces but am thinking I’d like to have a crack at making my own from home grown plants. I have bought and potted about 30 plants, of around 14 different varieties, so I can use different varieties for different flavours and intensities in the sauce, however I have come in on the tail end of yhe season so it will have to be a project for next year.
    I have 2 questions, 1stly is there much difference between commercially bought seedlings from Bunnings or Masters compared to those acquired through specialist sellers?
    2ndly do you know of anywhere locally to Melbourne or Western suburbs that I can get a bhut jolokia or a carolina reaper seedling?

  26. Chanel says:

    Hi there. I brought a black pearl chilli plant about a year and a half ago as it was absolutely stunning. I did not realise the plant did not like the cold. Once i noticed it was unhappy i kept it inside for the rest of winter, but it lost all this foliage. After 8 months and a lot of care still no sign of life on the plant. Does this mean the winter killed it? Also i love the plant so much I wanted to grow two in the garden as they can get very big. But I an guessing if they can’t take the cold that would be a very bad idea. If I did plant some would covering them at the coldest points of the day save them?

  27. Wahab says:

    Highly appreciate your posting specially with the info for the Melbourne weather. I started germination very late. Around 1st week of January and the plants are around 15cm tall now. Is there any possibility to have crop before winter this year ?


  28. Graham Benc e says:

    We have some Abbots Hat chillies trees. Do they need pruning every year, and if so how do you go about doing so. We love our chillies and want them to keep growing., so any information would be much appreciated.

    • Liz says:

      Hi Graham, I only prune if the plants are getting unruly – I find they grow better without pruning especially in their second year. I prune at the start of Spring when they are about to come back into growth but other’s may prune at different times?

  29. Peter says:

    Hi Liz, I’ve sprouted 2 Carolina reaper seeds and they have been growing for 3 and a half months now. One of them is approximately 15cm tall, whereas the other remains at about 7cm tall and is lacking in development. They share the same heat pad to this day, (as I am from Hobart Tasmania). Do you think it may just be a difference in soil quality or are there other factors I should consider?

  30. Alistair says:

    Hi Liz,

    Being a home maker, for self and friends, of hot chilli chutney I wish to start growing my own supply so I’m pleased to see the truckload of useful tips here on growing chilli from seed.
    As we live in Albany WA, on the South coast we seldom see gardening info’ relating to our location.
    As chilli seeds appear, from the comments above, to be rather fussy about their nursery conditions I would like to know if you recommend sowing my just purchased Carolina Reaper seeds in Jiffy peat pellets or herb pots rather than plastic punnets as Jiffys can be planted out without disturbing delicate root growth.

  31. Gillian says:

    Hi Liz
    I planted my Chilli plants (from seeds) at the wrong time (late February). Luckily it has been an unseasonably warm March and out of 30 planted – about half have sprouted.

    Do you think I should bring them inside? Or will they survive outside.

  32. Vance says:

    Hi Liz,

    Great site for all us chilli growers. I started growing some habanero chilli plants in an outdoor hydroponic (deep water culture) set-up at Christmas from small seedlings purchased at bunnings. They are super healthy and huge compared to the ones I have in pots. They have lots of fruit on them but wondering if they will ripen up before the nights get too cold? I live on the Mornington Peninsula. Should I trim branches back in order to get sun to the branches that are already fruiting as new flowers are coming everyday but I’m afraid they will fruit and not have enough time to ripen?

    Next time I know that although the growth is sped up in hydro I will need to get them in earlier to make sure they ripen.

  33. Dani D says:

    Hi Liz and Chilli Posse,

    We’ve just bought our first Chilli plant – from an old Coburg Trash And Treasure trooper.
    The plant is quite mature and fruiting – id say a metre tall.
    The weather was 8 degrees this morning and although looking healthy the leaves are quite droopy. She almost looks like she needs repotting into a bigger space.
    So – 2 questions 🙂
    1: Should i repot and add some stakes to keep her up?
    2: We have a massive fig tree out the back although now bare will that offer enough protection for the chilli to nestle underneath?

    Thanks you DD

  34. Audrey says:

    Hi there, have you tried overwintering capsicum plants in Melbourne and it worked? Thanks.

  35. Andrew says:

    Great blog Liz. I’ve been growing chillis for about 5 years and loving them.
    I am in Frankston South and my crop gets so much bigger with different varieties each year, but i am definately still a novice.
    Just reading through this I have picked up lots of useful hints and tips, and really wanted to say thanks!
    Thankyou for taking the time to respond to nearly everyone with such detailed answers.
    I am sure your audience is much bigger then you realise! Keep up the good work!!

  36. Suchi says:

    Wonderful blog Liz,very helpful…I stay in south part
    of Melbourne.Last year i planted a chilly plant in my
    Outdoor garden bought from Bunnings.It yeilded a good fruit and as the
    winter came in the plant got dried up.Now i am planning
    to replant it in a pot…so need a advice on this ,would it be a
    good idea to replant it in a pot and would this save my plant…same goes with my eggplant.Thanks in advance

  37. sazan says:


    I have an indoor chilli plant in a pot, the flowers are dropping, I have fertilized them, changed the pot to a bigger one, but with no result, can you advise please.


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