Thursday, 15 June 2017

Chillis - to pinch or not to pinch?

When a chilli plant is young it is normally just a single stem with some leaves coming out of it, like this:

However, the fruits of the chilli normally appear at a point where the stem branches:

Consequently it is considered desirable to have as many "branching-points" as possible, and in order to achieve this some growers pinch-out the tips of their plants at a fairly early stage - when they are approximately 12" / 30cm tall. This forces the plant to re-distribute its energy and normally promotes the production of a number of side-branches, often towards the bottom of the stem, like this:

My personal preference is to NOT pinch-out my chillis. I find they usually do well enough without it. This "Aji Benito", for instance, hasn't been pinched-out but already has a large number of side-branches:

Likewise this "Ring of Fire".

This "Fidalgo Roxa" branched naturally when it was very short.

And you can see that it has plenty of buds.

My approach with chillis is to just let them do their own thing, and to intervene as little as possible. What do you do?

This year I have fewer plants than normal - currently 12 in 10" pots, with another 4 still in 5" pots which may or may not get transplanted at some stage.

These 12 chillis are all in 10-inch pots

These are the four small ones:

Some of my chilli plants have some quite big fruits already, though none of them are ripe yet, which is hardly surprising since it is only mid-June.


Unknown type

If you want a big crop of chillis it is allegedly a good idea to pick off the first fruits before they ripen. This will supposedly prompt the plant to produce another batch of fruits to replace the "lost" ones. I'm not sure about this, because I have never carried out a controlled experiment to prove or disprove it.


  1. I'm experimenting this year with 3 plants of lemon drop: natural, tip pinched out and 'fimed'. They were all set off v early (Xmas time) and I've already had 3 ripe chillies from the fimed plant with another half a dozen or so full sized fruits formed. The pinched out plant also has about 6 full sized fruits whereas fruits are just starting to form on the natural plant. All 3 were grown together under lights followed by on a south facing window cill and into the ground in my allotment greenhouse a fortnight ago. They are all getting on for 3ft tall now. Usually my lemon chillies don't ripen till October/November if I start them off as normal in late February.

    1. I had to look up what "FIMing" meant, but now that I know I can see how this might be a good technique to try. Thanks for the info.

    2. I had meant to put in a suggestion to search for 'fiming chillies', otherwise you can get some (shall we say) interesting results.... ;) I'm certainly going to use that technique for my taller chillies in future.

  2. I just leave them to it - the only time I'd trim them is if I want to keep them more compact or after overwintering.


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