Chillies germinate easily from seed. You can buy from a huge range of seeds or save seeds from chilli at the end of the season as illustrated left. Just scrape out the seeds, dry them and keep dry and cool over winter.
To grow Chillies from seed, put one/two seeds into a single pot just below the surface. Sow Chillies shallow and sprinkle with minimal compost or vermiculite. Chillies can take some time to germinate, which if conditions are damp can encourage fungus. This risk can be reduced by covering the Chilli seeds with vermiculite, as opposed to compost.
The pot needs to be misted, and either covered with glass or put into a propagator. Leave to germinate, which should take up to 21 days. To germinate Chillies need a constant temperature of between 20-25 degrees which means germinating somewhere with a steady temperature.
It is important to know that Chillies need a long growing season. If you are growing them from seed, you will need to germinate early, and even earlier in the North of England (because of the shorter growing season,) from late January/early February onwards, provided you have somewhere warm to keep the plants.
If you are growing on a windowsill, rotate the pot daily to ensure even growth and avoid spindly seedlings
Chillies dislike root disturbance and they are best sown into modules and transferred into a pot with all the root ball and a little soil disturbance .
In colder areas grow Chillies in the greenhouse and even in sheltered spots only put outside when all risk of frost and chill have passed and the weather is warm.
During the early stages of the growing season, it is often necessary to repot into a larger pot. You can tell when a Chilli is plant is too large for the pot as it looks top heavy, (image top left). Another indicator is that when you look underneath at the bottom of the pot, tipping it carefully upside down, you can see the roots fighting to get out and straying out of the pot. Chillies do not like root disturbance, so pot on carefully keeping the root ball intact.