How to grow chillies

Chillies (Capsicum frutescens) originate from South and Central America. They are members of the Solanaceae family. Plants are bushy, roughly 55–85 cm high and are semi-perennials that are grown as annuals in cultivation. Chilli varieties may occur in many shapes, sizes and colours, and have a range of heat. If you have ever wondered how to grow chillies in Perth well it’s so simple anyone can do it.

Chillies are well suited to growing in most regions of WA where there is strong summer sun and heat. Often their true flavour is not fully appreciated due to their intense heat. Chilli have flavours ranging from nutty through smoky to fruity so selecting a chilli with a heat level that suits your palate is key.

With heats and flavours to suit everyone growing chillies in Perth is a must for any home gardener.

When to plant chillies in Perth:
Optimum temperatures for fruit setting are between 16°C and 21°C. For good fruit development, night temperatures of 15–17°C and day temperatures of 24–30°C are best. Perth’s arid climate means you can plant chillies any time of the year.

Chilli varieties in Australia:
Choose according to ‘heat’ or seed. Popular choices include ‘Jalapeno’, ‘Cayenne’ or ‘Habanero’. There are so many chilli varieties available in Western Australia.

  • Trinidad Scorpion Butch T Chilli – The ‘Butch T’ is a blisteringly hot selection of the Trinidad Scorpion which is Australia’s only claim to having the world’s hottest chilli.
  • Thai Hot Chilli – One of the world’s most popular varieties which is also known as ‘Birds Eye’. Produces clusters of bright red upright pods which are quite hot when ripe.
  • Scotch Bonnet Yellow Chilli – A native of the Caribbean, so named because its shape resembles that of the “tam o’ shanter cap” traditionally worn by Scottish men. This is the yellow variation which has a surprising sweetness and tropical fruit flavour. Slightly milder than the ‘Scotch Bonnet Red’ but still has plenty of heat.
  • Scotch Bonnet Red Chilli – A native of the Caribbean, so named because its shape resembles that of the “tam o’ shanter cap” traditionally worn by Scottish men.
  • Rocoto Tree Chilli – Rare variety with large pods up to 6cm long. Seriously hot and produces over a long season.
  • Poblano Chilli – Called ‘Poblano’ when fresh or ‘Ancho’ when dried. One of the most popular chillies in Mexico.
  • Pasilla Bajio Chilli – Popular Mexican chilli which ripens from dark green to brown and is traditionally used dried.
  • Jalapeno Chilli – Popular variety which produces over a long season on a sturdy plant. Ideal for growing in pots.
  • Habanero Chocolate Chilli – Extremely hot variety of habanero from Jamaica where it is known as ‘Congo Black’.
  • Fatalii Chilli – Deadly chilli which originated in the Central African Republic and has a fruity, citrus-like flavour.
  • Chocolate Scorpion Chilli – Chocolate variation of the ‘Butch T’ which is just as hot, if not hotter than the original.
  • Carolina Reaper Chilli – Officially recognised as the world’s hottest chilli by the Guinness Book of World Records with a peak heat rating of 2.2 million Scoville Heat Units (SHU). The Carolina Reaper has an initial fruity flavour which is accompanied by an immediate tidal wave of intense heat. You have been warned!
  • Bishops Crown Chilli – Unusual shaped pods which resemble a bishops hat and are originally from Barbados. Best eaten fresh to enjoy their sweet, fruity flavour.
  • Bhut Jolokia Chilli – Known as the “Ghost Chilli”, this native of India was formerly the hottest chilli in the world.
  • Australian Broome Chilli – Actually from Darwin, this variety excels in hot conditions and is almost as hot as a habanero.

When to plant chilli seeds:
Sow in punnets and plant out in 5-6 weeks. Seeds should be planted at a depth approximately 3 times the diameter of the seed.

Chillies can be planted straight into regular garden soil, but will benefit from some well – composted manure or compost being blended through at planting time.

Sandy soils should be improved with the addition of quality compost or manure.

The Addition of a controlled-release fertiliser at planting time will also assist your chillies growth.

Common problems with chillies:
Chillies have very few pest and disease problems. Aphids may attack new growth, and fruit fly may sting ripening fruit.

Storing chillies at home:
Chillies are best eat fresh however if you do have excess they freeze quiet well simply wash, dry, and freeze whole. Alternatively chillies can be pickled allowing you to have crisp flavoursome chilli all year round.

If you have any tips on how to grow chillies in Perth then share them in comments section below.

Check out our other how to grow in Perth guides:

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