Potted on Naga Morich Chilli SeedlingsSo there you are. You got the varieties of chilli seeds you wanted and sowed them using jiffy pellets or simply little germination pots full of good quality compost. Some seeds have only just started showing their face to the world while others are already about 5 cm / 2 inches tall and demanding to be potted on into individual pots so they can be more at ease.

Potting on is a vital step in growing plants so that your seedlings have the opportunity to developing into proper mature plants that will give you lots of spicy pods. If you have followed our instructions in our germination guide then you should have from 2 to 5 plants in each pot/jiffy pellet so all you need to do now is fill up a 7-9 cm pot (which is optimum size for root growth) with good compost and transfer each seedling onto an individual pot, adding a small layer of soil on top.

The trick though, if you have planted a few chilli seeds in the samepot initially is to separate the seedlings without hurting them which can be accomplished by using two distinct techniques:

1. using an empty bic pen, the end of an old toothbrush or even better in our view: a lollipop stick (which shouldn't be used as a pretext to buy dozens of bags of sweets of course!) carefully divide the soil and roots of the seedlings in question; or

2. soak up the soil containing the seedlings in warm water so it can soften and then gently pull the seedlings apart with your hands and carefully repot right away into soil.

Because we plant chilli seeds for business purposes we tend to have a big amount of seedlings coming up in a very short amount of time so we tend to use the second technique as it is a tad faster. We have realised from past experiences  though that keeping the seedlings in a constant warm temperature when potting up is best as some seedlings can go into shock and die.  We actually had that problem not so long ago on a particularly cold day and although all the seedlings looked worse for wear we let them recover in their individual pots and they did spring back to life and are now thriving.

Your choice of pot size when potting up can create more work in the future, if it is too small you will have to pot on again in no time but what we tend to do when the seedling is strong enough (i.e when roots start coming out of the bottom of the pot) is transferring them right away into 5 litre pots (especially ornamentals such as Patio Fire or Filius Blue), 7.5 litre pots (most chilli plants will do well in these) and 10 litre pots (especially Rocoto or Pimenta de Neyde).

If you are unsure about the quality of your compost you can easily improve it by adding perlite that keeps the soil aerated and/or vermiculite which will help retain moisture and even worm castings that should keep the aphid population down. There is usually no need to feed your plants at this stage though as the compost should have enough nutrients to last 4 or 6 weeks depending on the type used so as long as you keep them watered and warm they'll definitely shoot up in size in no time.

If you do decide to start feeding your chilli plants before potting them on again (unless they already are in their final pots) then we recommend feeds such as Chilli Focus from Growth Technology, a good organic seaweed based feed or a home made nettle feed, which can really be tailored to your needs, taking into account any nutrient deficiencies your plants may encounter.

You might think that this is a pretty arduous process but trust us, the rewards will be bountiful if you take the time to do all of this. 



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