Planting chili on the balcony
Chillies can be grown and cultivated wonderfully on the balcony. They look decorative and their exotic fruits can be used fresh in the kitchen. We can’t think of a balcony plant that would give us so much pleasure and fun.
In many gardens, chili and paprika plants are the gardener’s favourites. If you don’t have a garden, it’s no reason not to grow chillies. They are only a little more limited in space. That is why you prefer small chilli varieties.
Balconies facing south are ideal so that your chillies get direct midday sun. Chili plants should be exposed to sunlight for at least five hours. If your balcony is on the west or east side, you can also look forward to a good, if not lush harvest! Don’t hang your head if you only have a north balcony. Attract plants early enough under LED plant lights.
You may also need to let the fruit ripen indoors under plant light in autumn. Then plant your ornamental chilies in flower pots. This makes it easier for you to change location.
Not every pot and balcony box is equally suitable for chili plants. Your flower pots should not be less than 20 cm in diameter. If space permits, choose larger plant pots of about 30 cm. If the volume is smaller, the soil cannot store much liquid. As you can read here, this handicap is also easily solved.
For the balcony, chilli varieties are interesting, which do not grow larger than 80 or 90 cm. There is a wide selection of such Capsicum varieties. You don’t have to rule out larger varieties either, chillies adapt to the available space. As a rule, the eye of the needle is too small a pot. If there is little root space available, the plant remains smaller and produces fewer chilli peppers.
You prefer your plants in your home as early as January. After the ice saints, in the middle of May, you can place your vegetable plants on the balcony or terrace. Read here how to plant and prefer chili seeds. If you have missed the time by March, you can order plants splendidly online.
Habanero need a lot of sun and warmth. Both are abundantly available on a sunny loggia. The Chilis from the Caribbean are easily five years old. Then you have to let your Habaneros spend the winter in the house. We know tens of chili growers who bring their plants through the winter under artificial light in the cellar. When making your selection, pay attention to smaller, bushy Capsicum chinense chili varieties.
Dutch Habaneros were bred in Holland. The fruits are unusually shaped for Habaneros, but taste even more fruity. On a balcony plant, unimaginable quantities can grow if nutrients, water and sunlight are available. With about 75,000 Scoville the Habaneros are beautifully hot.
A tasty plant for the balcony are Habaneros White. It is a small plant of about 50 cm height. Fruit and plant are sharp eye-catchers. Their Habaneros easily reach 300,000 Scoville. They are less wrinkly than the typical Habaneros, but have a smooth surface.
Chili Royal Black are so dark purple that the plant appears pitch black in the right light. It is a Capsicum annuum species, which can also be well maintained on the windowsill. The variety was bred in the USA and was selected with robustness in mind. It can also produce many red chillies under less favourable conditions. Before the chillies turn red, they appear like the leaves of the plant in black.
Who would have thought, the pepper plant is cultivated in Siberia. The summer is short there and it follows an extreme cold in winter. Therefore, the plant was bred for rapid growth and early harvest.
It is a Capsicum annuum species, which you can often spend the winter in your home. Outside it shrinks with the first frost. It is a beautiful variety for the mass.
Nothing unusual, but easy to grow, early harvest and the chillies are perfect for goulash and salsa. These plants, about 70 cm tall, are always something.
A beautiful dwarf chili. It is only 30 - 40 cm high. It looks completely different than most other chilli varieties. Small leaves with chili peppers, which shine in the different ripening stages in umpteen colors. The fact that the NuMex Twilight is easy to care for also makes it unique for the balcony.
The name of the Patio Fire comes from its fruits, which remind of tongues of fire. The small plants are robust and usually remain considerably smaller than 50 cm. The mild pungency of about 500 Scoville invites you to pick and nibble. Like all Capsicum plants it likes a lot of light, but also thrives in the shade.
A particular challenge on the balcony is direct sunlight, warmth and little soil available to the plants. Little soil means not only a small nutrient buffer, but also little supply of moisture.
However, both problems can be easily solved. Balcony boxes with water storage are the most sensible. In the midday heat you will hardly be able to water regularly. And you can’t always be there. Thanks to a built-in water reservoir, it is usually sufficient to water vegetable plants once a day, preferably in the evening, and to fill the double bottom with water.
Before we put our preferred chili plants into the soil, we fertilize them with slow release fertilizer. We prefer a granular form. This provides our plants with nutrients all year round. Good fertilizers provide more nitrogen for growth at the beginning of the season, later more phosphate and potassium for flowers and fruit formation.
In addition to flower boxes, you also get plant containers and tubs with water level indicators and storage containers.
If the plants need more water during a heat period, you can support them with irrigation systems. Also help with short trips
Irrigation cones and water balls.
For Capsicum plants it is better not to use common garden soil. They love a slightly sour soil. A pH value of 6.5 is optimal for almost all chilli varieties. If the substrate is unsuitable, your chili plant will get wet feet and react promptly. They then shrink in no time at all.
We use a mixture of tomato soil, coconut soil and perlite for our chillies. Tomato soil is well adapted to our nightshade plant. Coconut fibres give the soil a firm structure that does not compact. A pleasant side effect is that coconut soil can absorb a lot of water. Perlite also makes the soil more permeable to air.
A perfect combination, from about 60 % earth for tomatoes, 35 % coconut fibres and 5 % perlite, we usually mix ourselves.
If this is too expensive for you, you can use special paprika soil or a cultivation soil with contained perlite. There are few nutrients in herbs and growing soil. Then fertilize immediately.
Maintaining chili plants in pots requires a little more attention than looking after your buddies in the garden or greenhouse. In the flower pot the plant has little soil and therefore a smaller buffer zone. The soil dries out faster and an overfertilization can happen quickly. Lime from hard irrigation water accumulates faster. If excess water cannot drain off, waterlogging occurs. If your plant is stricken by such stress factors, vermin spread on leaves and at the root.
Therefore, always keep a close eye on your balcony plants. Check soil moisture with your fingers, for example. Avoid hard water for watering. Whether by collecting rainwater or diluting with soft water. Also make sure that the watering water is at about the ambient temperature.
A tip that has proved its worth: we use a 5 litre pressure sprayer. Our chillies can sprinkle with these. It is used in the morning and evening. If the sun does not shine directly on the chili leaves, they are fogged. Habaneros especially like a high humidity and like the shower. After watering, they are immediately filled with water. So the liquid has time until the next watering to adapt to the environment. Since the watering water is airtight, there is no odour nuisance from modern.
You can also sprinkle wood chippings between the plants so that the moisture does not evaporate too quickly when warm. We have also made no negative experiences with bark mulch. Bark mulch contains tannins that hinder the growth of weeds. It should also make the soil a little more acidic. Under certain circumstances a useful property. In both cases water does not evaporate so quickly and it promotes soil life.
Liquid fertilizer must never be applied to dry roots. The nutrient salts would immediately destroy the roots. Organic fertilizer is quite the best for chili plants, but has the disadvantage that it often stinks. We have made friends with long-term fertilizers in granulate form.
On the balcony it can be sheltered from the wind and bees are not so common. Then it can happen that the flowers fall off without being pollinated. This much can be revealed: You can do this yourself with a soft brush. Read more about pollinating chili flowers here.
After chili blossoms have been fertilized, it takes about three months until the harvest. You will first notice a subtle change in colour. After a long wait, it goes quite fast. The ripening time depends on the climate. Many chili plants that are suitable for the balcony need about 80 days from flowering to ripening.
These include Jalapeño, Thai Hot, Serrano, Mirasol and Cayenne. If you have preferred your chillies in January, the harvest time can start in July. Most chili growers don’t really start until August and September.
Only a few chillies are harvested green. The jalapeño is a well-known representative of the chilli peppers, which also taste unripe. For all others, wait until the pods have completely changed colour to their maturity plus three to five days to fully develop aroma and sweetness.
The nice thing about growing chillies on the balcony is that the way to the kitchen or stove is not too far. So you always have fresh, crunchy and above all hot vegetables ready to hand.