I’m sure I’m not the only one that gets a little overexcited when chilli growing season swings around and ends up with way too many plants. Culling the extras seems like such a cruel end to the little sprouts lives. Here’s my favourite ways to get rid of some plants or make the most of the space I’ve got.
There’s always plenty of people over on hot pepper forums from all over the world that are looking for chilli plants. It doesn’t hurt to whack up a post of your own letting people know that you’ve got some some that need good homes. It’s especially helpful for anyone that missed the window of opportunity for growing from seed.
Make sure you include lots of detail, the varieties, how many you have, the growth stage they’re at, the general location and stick some pictures up. The best thing about getting rid of pepper plants on pepper forums is you know they’re going to good homes where they’ll be well taken care of (unlike a lot of chilli plants given away as gifts).
Sometimes local schools/churches/organisations have fundraisers where they take donations from people then sell them on. It’s worth asking if they’d be interested in your peppers. It’s a double whammy, you get rid of your extra plants and you help raise money for a good cause!
Everybody’s work place could do with a bit of brightening up right? If you’re lucky you might be able to convince your office to adopt a few – there’s a lot of benefits to plants in the work environment. If not, you could probably get away with having one on your desk or in your work area.
Choose your plants wisely though! Your work probably won’t like it if your little desk plant transforms into a metre high bush in the space of a few months. Small compact plants combined with some aggressive pruning and if necessary a root ball pruning bonchi style will help keep your plant to a reasonable size.
Plus, you’ll get to watch your peppers growing at work and at home.
This one takes a bit more effort than the others but if you’ve got a ton of pepper plants needing homes then setting up a stall at a farmers market/market/car boot sale could work.
Make sure your plants look as appealing as possible to potential buyers. I’d probably wait until the plants have got at least a few sets of true leaves and generally look like strong healthy plants. Alternatively, you could sell the sprouted seedlings in seed cells but you’ll probably get less takers.
You never know, you could end up making a bit of extra pocket money.
If the thought of standing at a stall trying to flog peppers doesn’t sound appealing then have a look for someone that already has a stall selling plants and see if they’ll take the whole lot off your hands for a bargain price so that they can sell them on.
Gifting/donating/begging people to take them
You never know, you might end up indoctrinating someone into the wonderful world of growing chillis.
Everyone I’ve offered peppers to have wanted the traditional foody type peppers like Jalapeños and Habaneros. But, if you’ve got extra Carolina Reapers then be sure to say the magic words “hottest pepper in the world” and there’s usually a couple of takers.
If your plants are still sprouts then wait a few weeks until they’ve got some nice looking true leaves and look well established. Sprouts can seem a bit intimidating to people that have only ever looked after established plants.
Giving your plants to a nursery or garden centre is a long shot. Most of them already have suppliers and strict regulations to avoid bringing any potential contaminated or diseased plants into their growing areas.
Chances are, big franchisy types of garden centres are going to be more hassle than it’s worth. Try asking around in small locally owned places, if they’ve got a website you could always shoot them a quick email or give them a call.
Keeping Your Extra Chillis
I know this post is supposed to be about getting rid of plants but I love to get creative with the extras and try and downsize them or turn them into “ornamental” plants.
Bonchi is a fairly new thing and hasn’t gained much traction, but it should. It’s the art of growing your peppers in a similar way to growing a bonsai tree. Instead of ending up with a huge plant you end up with a little mini one and if you’re lucky your bonchi will give you a mini harvest of chillis too – probably not though.
The most talked about method of bonchiing a chilli plant is to grow it to full size then cut it down to bonsai size which isn’t much help to our little orphan chilli plants seeing as we don’t have space to grow them anywhere near maturity.
Instead, go old school and grow some of the plants bonsai style by keeping them small right from the start. With bonchis, I keep them indoors like houseplants so I don’t really count them as pepper plants, they’re “ornamental”.
I’ve already got some peppers growing to bonchi this year.
While devouring all the information I could find about bonchi I came across a post about fusing plants stems together. It’s supposed to help create a thick strong trunk early on and basically turns multiple plants into a single plant.
I’m going to be testing out fusion on some of my extra peppers this year to see what’s possible but it sounds like it’s got good potential if it works.
Braiding is pretty simple compared to messing around with fusing stems and bonchis but you still end up with a gorgeous ornamental plant. It’s only good for leggy varieties because you want that nice long naked stem on display
Grow 3 pepper plants per pot and when they get tall enough braid them together and tie them at the top. Voila!
I’ve already got some sprouts set aside for braids so I’m trying to grow them really leggy. I’m hoping I can get them tall enough to make it look like a little tree.
If turning three plants into one isn’t enough you can get really fancy with the braiding and use a lot more plants per pot. Check out macrame and hair braiding tutorials and you’ll find some amazing braids that are ridiculously hard for those of us with clumsy hands.
I’ve read that it’s best to stick to the same variety of pepper when they’re being grown together in a single pot but I’ll be testing it out this year to see if I can make it work with different varieties.
If you’ve got a garden, instead of planting your peppers individually you could plant them to grow into a hedge wall. You’ll still be growing them to full size but they’ll be planted closer together and treated like bushes with frequent pruning to keep them in check.
Your pepper plants are now bushes, not pepper plants. Good job!
If you’ve got a spot outdoors (or a sunny indoor spot) that you can hang a hanging basket from then it’s the perfect spot for a pepper plant.
Not all varieties are going to work as hanging baskets. Go for compact bushy types that’ll grow wide and low and hang over the edge of the basket (you might need to break out the wire to train the branches to grow in the direction you want). Top or FIM the plant a lot to prevent it from growing a tall, straight main stem.
I’m testing out a few varieties at the moment to see if they’ll work as hanging baskets so keep an eye out for that post if your curious if it’ll work. Currently I’ve only heard of the Basket of Fire variety that’s good for growing in a hanging basket.
Grafting is the magical art of sticking part of one plant onto another plant to create a single plant. Sometimes you’ll see frankenpeppers where different varieties are grafted onto another variety resulting in a plant that can grow multiple types of peppers.
The bigger/stronger your plant is the more likely it’ll survive the grafting process so grow your plants as big as you’ve got space for before grafting.
When my chilli plants need to be potted up I’ll usually end up creating some grafts from the extras even if they are fairly small.
Vertical gardening has become a bit of a craze because it allows you to grow more plants in a smaller space.
You can create a pretty simple vertical garden by using a ladder and putting the pots on the different steps. Check out the varieties you’re growing to make sure that the higher plants won’t block out the light to the lower ones. You’ll have to prune quite aggressively when they get bigger so that everyone can get their fair share of light.
It’s a good way to grow some plants until they’re big enough for grafting.
This is one of my favourite methods for keeping all my chillis when space is getting tight. All you need to make this work is three (or more) pots with different diameters. The largest pot goes at the bottom of the stack, plant your chillis around the edges of the pot so that when you stack the next pot the chilli plants are poking out of the sides. Do the same for that pot (and any other pots) and with the pot at the top, plant a single chilli in the middle – the chosen one.
When your plants get bigger they’ll cover up the pots and it’ll look like an amazing pepper plant mountain.
If your plants are outdoors then you’ve probably got room for a couple of hydropeppers indoors somewhere. Hydroponic peppers need less space than they’re soil grown counterparts and they’re life cycle is limited if you use the kratky method.
Hydroponics might sound complicated and expensive, but other than needing to buy the nutrients and potting medium you can build a decent hydroponics setup with upcycled items. Be warned, hydroponic growing is as addictive as pepper growing!
Sometimes you’ll need to bite the bullet and execute some of your sprouts. It’s better to do it early because the bigger they get the more you’ll want to keep them.
I tend to keep all my plants until potting up time. When that time comes it’s like a beauty pageant hunger games mash up – only the best make it through to the next round.
Because I love experimenting on my chilli plants I rarely end up killing off any. I’d much rather see if I can grow a frankenpeppers or what’ll happen if I stick multiple plants in the same pot.