Planting Notes – Chillies, Capsicums & Eggplant

*The following information is designed for a temperate southern hemisphere garden*

These planting notes come from my own experience of growing Chillies, Capsicums and Eggplants in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.  However every garden is different, as is every season and every year.  What may work once may not work again and what may not work the first time might be fabulous the next.  It rarely hurts to try something so please treat this information as a very general guide only.

Chillies:

When to plant?: I sow my seed indoors from June/July onward.  The seeds need warmth to germinate, so if yours aren’t they are probably too cold so try again later in Spring.  Some varieties do take a while to germinate,  Seedlings can be planted outside from about September/October (earlier if in a particularly warm area, later in a cool area).

How long does it take?: Different varieties take different lengths of time to crop.  Some may crop in mid-late summer while others may take until late Autumn/early winter to bear fruit.  In some cases you may not get significant crops until the plant’s second year.

How much space do they take up?: About 50cm square per plant if planted in the ground depending on the variety.  You could grow a chilli plant in a pot as small as 15cm diameter depending on the variety, but 30-40cm pot will give them more room to grow and give you a larger yield.

Can I grow it in a pot? Yes, they are perfect for pots.

Care while growing?: Fertilise after flowering and while fruiting.  Don’t pot into too large a pot too soon, small increases in pot size work best for chillies.  Harvest chillies regularly to encourage more fruit set.  Prune lightly and pot up in spring if the plants survived the winter.

Harvesting?: Chillies can be eaten green or red, and different dishes will use them at different stages.  They are hottest when ripest, which for many varieties is a bright red colour.

Saving Seed: You can save seed from any ripe chilli – either home grown or store/market bought.  Be aware though that if the chilli was grown close to capsciums or other chillies the plants may have crossed and in that instance your plants will not come true from seed.  For more information see the Saving Seed page.

Some posts on chillies:

Growing Chillies in Melbourne

Chillirrific News (about overwintering chillies in Melbourne)

Bishops Cap/Scotch Bonnet Chillies

Capsicums

When to plant?: I sow my seed indoors from June/July onward.  The seeds need warmth to germinate, so if yours aren’t they are probably too cold so try again later in Spring.  Some varieties do take a while to germinate,  Seedlings can be planted outside from about September/October (earlier if in a particularly warm area, later in a cool area).

How long does it take?: It depends on the variety.  In general I find that capsicums tend to fruit in February and then all through Autumn in Melbourne although I get an occasional one from some varieties earlier if I have sowed seed early and it is a particularly warm season.

How much space does it take up?: About 50cm square per plant if planted in the ground.  A 40cm diameter pot is about perfect for a capsicum plant.

Can I grow it in a pot? Yes they are perfect for pots.  A 40cm diameter pot is about perfect for a capsicum plant.

Care while growing?: Fertilise after flowering and while fruiting.  Harvest capsicums regularly to encourage more fruit set.

Harvesting?: Capsicums can be eaten green or red, and different dishes will use them at different stages.  They are sweetest when ripest.

Saving Seed: You can save seed from any ripe capsicum – either home grown or store/market bought.  Be aware though that if the capsicum was grown close to other capsciums or chillies the plants may have crossed and in that instance your plants will not come true from seed.  For more information see the Saving Seed page.

More info?: http://suburbantomato.com/2011/05/growing-capsicums/

Eggplant

When to plant?: I sow my seed indoors from June onward.  The seeds need warmth to germinate, so if thy aren’t germinating then they are probably too cold so try again later in Spring.  Some varieties do take a while to germinate,  Seedlings can be planted outside from about September/October (earlier if in a particularly warm area, later in a cool area).

How long does it take?: About 6-7 months from sowing seed to first fruits depending on the variety, climate and when you sowed the seed.

How much space does it take up?: About 50cm to 1 metre square per plant if planted in the ground, although you can under plant with other crops like basil.  A 40cm diameter pot is fine for an eggplant, a 50cm diameter pot is even better.

Can I grow it in a pot? Yes, see above.

Care while growing?: Fertilise after flowering and while fruiting.  Harvest eggplants regularly to encourage more fruit set.

Harvesting?: Eggplants should be harvested when they are glossy and firm.

Saving Seed: If you want to save seed from an Eggplant you need to let it mature on the plant for much longer than you would if eating it.  Eggplants which are fully ripened for seed saving are dull and quite hard.  Because of the need to leave them on the plant to ripen it is not usually advisable to use seed from eggplants/brinjals/aubergines you have bought to eat.

Posts on growing eggplant:

Eggplant

Bonica Eggplant

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16 Responses to Planting Notes – Chillies, Capsicums & Eggplant

  1. Balvinder says:

    I do not have a big garden but I like to grow thai chillies and colored peppers. I even tried planting eggplant but was not successful with it.

    • Liz says:

      Thats interesting, I would have said that eggplant has pretty similar growth requirements to peppers and chillies. Perhaps it didn’t like the spot or pot.

  2. Trevor says:

    Hi

    How do I post a picture on this site?

  3. Katherine Hill says:

    Capsicum question. I bought a Capsicum plant which only just started flowing now in late April. Should I bring the plant inside to get fruit. I am in Melbourne.

    Thanks

    • Liz says:

      You could try, I’ve never tried one inside so I can’t offer any first hand experience I’m afraid. My biggest concern would be that it may not like the lack of sunlight much, so if you do you will need to find a nice spot by a sunny window for it. Has your plant set any fruit at all? If so them perhaps leave it outside because those fruits may still ripen assuming May is relatively mild. Either way I would try and get the plant through winter (with some sort of protection if you get frost) as if it survives it should fruit earlier next year.

  4. Nelly says:

    Hi there…I am in the Adelaide Hills, any clues why some eggplants turn a mustard yellow. They are the slender variety, Hybrid. It is only some of them.

    • Liz says:

      That happens to mine too. They generally turn yellow as the individual fruits get older and riper (but usually past their eating prime). Occasionally though I get a fruit which seems to turn yellow pretty early on. I’m not sure whether I have simply missed it earlier and let it get over ripe or whether it is sunburnt. My understanding is that if the leaves aren’t adequately covering the fruit they can also yellow. I would pick them and cut before cooking. If they are really seedy it is probably that they are over ripe otherwise it is more likely to be sunburn.

  5. Cam says:

    I have germinated some capsicum seedlings in my laundry which gets quite a lot if light and is quite warm. Should I leave them indoors as long as possible? When will it be safe to take them outdoors and out them into pots? I am in Melbourne.

    • Liz says:

      Hi Cam,

      Yes I would leave them inside as long as possible. You might find they get a little leggy (overly long) at which point you might want to move them outside but if you do that they will still need some sort of protection particularly if you get any frost whatsoever. I usually move mine outside into one of those greenhouse things with plastic over them in late August. I don’t get frost but I still find that they usually do best with some sort of protection until about October depending on how mild our weather is.

  6. Orejano says:

    For those that like eggplants I recommend get them grafted.
    If you like you can get the root stock and graft your won eggplants and tomatoes.
    Have a look this article:
    http://www2b.abc.net.au/tmb/Client/Message.aspx?b=72&m=10996&ps=50&dm=1&pd=3

    • Liz says:

      That’s interesting – what difference do you find with grafted plants vs those grown on their own roots? I’m not sure the research suggests its generally worth bothering but I have to admit not having tried grafted plants. I imagine it depends on your soil, climate etc. Would love to hear about your experiences.

  7. Bec says:

    Hi, just wondering, I have some capsicums that are fruiting now (mid-March in temperate region of NSW), once they have finished fruiting do I throw the plants away or will they be able to keep through the winter and frosts, and fruit again next summer?

    • Liz says:

      They are frost sensitive so if they aren’t protected in some way they will probably die. You have two choices – either protect them or pull them out and compost them. If you would like to try protecting them then moving them into a pot and finding a frost free corner may well work, alternatively you could leave them where they are and try putting something like clear plastic or hessian around the plant. The rate of success will probably depend on the variety and how cold the winter gets where you are.

  8. Ann says:

    A friend in Northcote told me to leave my capsicums in the ground for another season. The plants grew bigger and fruited heavily. I had lots of red capsicums this year. The first year they were all green. I’m going to try leaving them another year and have bought a frame to put plastic over for the colder nights. I’m also going to try this with eggplants, tho’ they are already looking fairly past it. I’m in East Kew.

    • Liz says:

      That’s fab about your capsicums. I have had some good results with them some years and not so good results in others. Glad yours did so well. Eggplants I have never managed to have success with. I find they generally survive winter OKish but then die in Spring for some reason – but perhaps I’ve only ever tried with short lived varieties.

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