The typical chili pepper plant can reach a height of 1.3 meters. Some varieties are small and bushy and stay at an average of 60 cm. Other varieties, on the other hand, can become as tall as 10 meters.
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In this article, I'll talk about the sizes of various chili pepper plant varieties. Furthermore, I'll talk about how to deal with larger plants when growing these. You can support the plants with a trellis, for example, or you can prune them to keep them small.
Table of Contents
How big do chili plants get?
The smallest chili plant species is Capsicum Frutescens, of which the best-known variety is the Tabasco Pepper. The plants of this species reach a height of 30 cm to 120 cm. They are usually small and compact.
The chili plants of the Capsicum Baccatum species can reach a maximum height of 150 cm. The best-known varieties from this species are the Aji Amarillo and the Aji Limon (Lemon Drop).
Plants of the chili species called Capsicum Chinense are also relatively small. They can grow to 140 cm, although most grow to an average of about 60 cm. Some of the best-known varieties of this species are Bhut Jolokia, Aji Charapita, and Chocolate Habaneros.
The Capsicum Annuum species is the species of chili peppers with the most significant number of varieties. To this species belong the Cayenne, Jalapeño, Serrano peppers. Even the sweet Bell Peppers belong to this species. Given that this species is very diverse, it is not possible to say what the typical size of a plant would be. Yet, the maximum height to be expected is around 150 cm. For some varieties within the species, the maximum height can be much lower. For example, Jalapeño and Cayenne Peppers grow to a height of 90 cm, whereas the Serrano Peppers can grow as tall as 150 cm.
The tallest chili species is the Rocoto chili (Capsicum Pubescens). This pepper plant species can become 10 meters tall. Hence, it is also sometimes referred to as the Chili Tree. Yet, under most circumstances, this type of chili will become at most 1,5 meters tall in your garden.
How to grow a large chili plant?
Make sure that your pepper plant has optimal growing conditions.
The pot in which the chili plant grows needs to be large enough to help the plant develop an extensive network of roots. Therefore, it is not so much the pot's diameter that is important, but rather the volume of the pot. For large chili varieties, like Rocoto Peppers or Serrano Peppers, you may choose to use a container of at least 40 liters. The larger the container, the larger the chili pepper plant can become.
If you are planting your chili in a garden, you may have to dig a hole that is somewhat larger than the size of the soil clinging to the roots of the plant. Do this to ensure that the soil around the chili plant is loose enough for its roots to get oxygen.
Supporting a large chili plant
As soon as your chilies reach a height of 20 cm or more, it would help if you considered placing one or more stakes close to the stem to support it. As the plant grows more extensive, you may have to replace these stakes with longer ones.
When growing the chili plant in a pot, make sure that it does not become top-heavy. The plant may topple over. Transplant the chili into a larger pot and again add stakes to keep the plant-centered in the container.
Chili plants that grow large and bushy like Rocotos can also be supported to give them a nice shape. For this, you can use plant rods and loosely tie various branches to them. For securing the branches, you can use a rope or floral wire. As the pepper plant grows, you may have to adjust the ropes to keep it in a beautiful shape.
Trellises may not be a good choice, given that they are flat. Chilies, on the other hand, grow in all directions.
Pruning a large chili plant
Chili plants are very forgiving when it comes to pruning. If you are afraid that your plant will grow too large, then you can cut it back. Like this, you can make your pepper plant stay small and bushy.
Some pepper plants grow along stem first before branching out in a 'Y' shape. You can cut the plant below the point where it starts to fork out. Make sure to keep some side branches on the stem. Pruning the plant will set back the growing time a few weeks, so take this into account.
Consider using sterilized pruning shears or scissors to prevent you from infecting your chili plant with unwanted pathogens.
Take into account that keeping your plant small may influence the yield of chilies.
Rocoto Pepper plants can grow up to 10 meters if taken care of correctly. Most other chilies stay below the height of 150 cm. Some smaller varieties don't grow above 100 cm. When choosing chili plant varieties to grow, you may want to consider the amount of space you have available.
Make sure that your chili plants have a large enough pot such that there is plenty of space for them to grow their roots. If the container is small, then the plant will also remain small.
When growing chilies, you'll find that it is often a good idea to support them using stakes or canes to prevent the plants from tipping over and make sure they grow straight.
To prevent your chili plants from growing too tall, you may also prune them.
- "The Complete Chile Pepper Book - A gardener's guide to choosing, growing, preserving, and cooking" by Dave DeWitt ad Paul W. Bosland