Chili peppers come in many varieties and are both fun and attractive to have in your garden. They offer both a pleasant addition to your landscape, the opportunity to really spice up your cooking. Chili peppers don’t have very deep roots, so they are perfect for planting in small containers or in window boxes. Because they are warm region perennials, chili peppers can also be brought inside when the weather starts to turn. Provided they get the right amount of nutrients and sunlight, many of them will grow indoors.
TIP: Our Expert Gardening advisor, Susan Patterson reminds you, "Keep pets and small children away from pepper plants."
Start your peppers outdoors when the weather is warm during the summer. You can bring them indoors as the autumn sets in. The same is true for window box peppers. Peppers grown indoors will produce continually under the right conditions. Plant the chili pepper starts in organic potting soil. Use containers small enough to be brought comfortably into the home. If you are using window boxes, make sure they are detachable and will sit securely on an interior window sill.
TIP: Susan suggests, "Use organic rich planting media and place peppers in a container that drains well."
When to Bring the Plants Inside
Chili peppers are warm season plants and will not tolerate frost. Bring the peppers indoors well before you expect a frost. In fact, it is best to bring them in while day and night temperatures are still on the warm side. This will help minimize shock. The best types of chili peppers to bring indoors are Asian varieties and others with small fruit. The Black Pearl, different types of Habanero and Tricolor peppers seem to work best. Jalapenos are not well suited for indoor growth.
When you bring them inside, wash the leaves in a fresh water rinse every 2 or 3 weeks, and use a compost-based fertilizer to assist with growth. Be sure to have them near the sunniest window so they receive plenty of light and warmth. Chili pepper plants will produce throughout the fall and winter.
If you do not have access to a sunny spot, an indoor fluorescent light will serve a similar purpose.
TIP: Susan advises, "Chili plants grown indoors generally need less water then when they were outside."
Dry and Decorate
When the chili pepper plants produce the desired result, you might be overwhelmed with fruit. You can dry out the peppers before you use them, and drying chili peppers can make for an attractive display you can hang in your kitchen. If you have an assortment of colored peppers to work with, hang and dry them in different combinations to create a vibrant effect. Once they are dry, you are free to chop them up and pulverize them for use in your cooking.
TIP: Susan cautions you, "Be careful when handling chili peppers that you do not touch the fruit and rub your eyes, any little bit of juice will burn."