Pruning chilli plants 【How and When to prune】


The chilli plants is a variety of pepper whose origins date back 6,000 years in Central and South America. There is no historical record that the American peoples used it, but it was with the arrival of the Spanish that the species began to be registered and categorized. Although these are quite rustic plants, which require little care for their cultivation, there are certain keys that you should know. In this post we will talk about pruning chili plants, how and when to do it correctly.


Keep in mind that there are around 4,000 varieties of chili peppers in the world. Basically they can be divided into five Capsicum species and 28 other wild forms. In general, the varieties of chili that we grow can be assigned to one of these five species; Capsicum annuum, Capsicum baccatum, Capsicum chinense, Capsicum frutescens, Capsicum pubescens. In this post we will analyze the pruning of chilli pants in a general way, we will not stop to analyze each species in particular.

Pruning chilli plants 【How and When to prune】
Interesting fact: Did you know that birds cannot enjoy the spiciness of a chili? Unlike what happens with mammals, which feel the itch of chili plants a lot, birds are not affected by itching. This makes a lot of sense since birds are primarily responsible for spreading the chili seeds and allowing more plants to grow. Therefore, if the spiciness affected them, it is very likely that they would not want to eat the fruits of the chili pepper, which would greatly affect the reproduction of these plants with spicy fruits.

1. Little tips for growing chilli plants


Although the main topic of this article is the pruning of chili plants, I want you to have a basic knowledge of the general care for these plants. For this reason we will dedicate the first section of this post to the care of chilli plants.

Keep in mind that you can grow chilli pepper plants both outdoors and indoors, since its fruits are very decorative. So if you have a little imagination, chili plants can help your indoor or outdoor furniture to better decorate various spaces or rooms.

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  • Location: the ideal place for these plants is one where they can receive 6 or 8 hours of direct sun per day. Also ensure good air circulation to prevent the growth of fungal diseases.
  • Soil: the ideal soil is one that provides good drainage with a pH between 6.0 and 8.0. They also like it to have a lot of organic matter, so some compost comes in handy.
  • Irrigation: the soil must always remain with some moisture, but you must never cause waterlogging. It is best to carry out abundant and deep irrigations infrequently, than to carry out superficial and infrequent irrigations.
  • Fertilizer: in summary I can tell you that he likes slow-release balanced fertilizers.
  • Mulching: You can apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of the plants to help retain moisture. This will also help regulate soil temperature and reduce weed growth.
  • Pests: Among the most common pests are aphids, mites and pepper weevils. The ideal is to apply organic remedies, although if the pest is very advanced you may need to apply chemical insecticides.

Keep in mind that there are different varieties of chile, all of which have slightly different care requirements, so it’s a good idea to research the specific needs of the chiles you’re growing.

2. Tools needed for pruning chilli plants


Normally when we talk about a task like pruning in gardening, dozens of tools come to mind to carry it out. But for plants like chili plants, pruning can be done with one or two simple tools.

To prune your chili plants, it will be enough to have a pair of hand scissors or a very sharp knife. Keep in mind that whenever you go to prune any plant it is important that your tools are properly disinfected. In the next section we will see some methods that you can use for this disinfection.

2.1 How to disinfect pruning tools

There are many ways to sanitize your pruning tools. Here we will see three of the most common and easy to do.

  • Method 1: Rub the blades of the scissors with a cloth moistened with alcohol (ethanol). After cleaning, let the tool sit for a couple of minutes for maximum disinfection effectiveness.
  • Method 2: Prepare a 1/9 mix of bleach and water (one part bleach to 9 parts water). Then soak the scissors for half an hour in that mixture. After those 30 minutes you can start pruning.
  • Method 3: This third method is effective but from my point of view it is not so recommended. Here what you should do is pass the blade for a few seconds through a flame. This will sanitize but will also burn the blade.

You already have the three methods to disinfect your tools. It is time to start pruning your chilli plants, but do not do it if you read the following sections first. 😉

3. Do chilli plants need pruning?


Like many of the plants in our garden or orchard, chili plants may need pruning. Although they can certainly live perfectly without being pruned, we will generally do this technique to maximize or improve fruit production.

Among the benefits that we can mention, and that we pursue when pruning, are:

  1. Size and shape control: Pruning is widely used to control the size or shape of chile plants. This occurs in cases where the plants become uncontrolled in size.
  2. Removal of diseased or damaged branches: As with any plant, pruning is important to remove all diseased, damaged, or dead foliage. This will prevent the spread of diseases and improve the aesthetics of the plant.
  3. Improvement in fruit production: this is undoubtedly the most sought-after benefit when we can plant plants such as chili. There are certain pruning techniques that will help us promote better fruiting, we will study them in the following sections.
  4. Aesthetic Reasons: Some gardeners prune chile plants for aesthetic reasons. Reducing leggy or unruly growth can make the plant look neater.

Depending on the objectives that we pursue with pruning, certain techniques will be required. A technique widely used in chili plants is topping, in this post we will study it separately from the other general pruning techniques.

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3.1 Topping

Although topping is a technique that is not recommended for large plants, it is quite beneficial for chili plants. Basically we can say that topping involves removing the growing tip or the apical meristem of the main stem. The benefits we seek with topping in chili plants are:

  • Generate bushier growth: By removing the top growth, energy is redirected to the lower branches, resulting in a bushier, more compact plant. This is very useful for chili plants grown in pots or small spaces.
  • Delayed flowering: this technique will also delay the start of flowering. This allows the plant to establish a stronger root system and produce more branches before diverting energy into fruit production.
  • Higher yield: if you increase the foliage we will have more branches capable of producing fruit, thus increasing production.

3.2 General pruning

General pruning in chile plants involves the selective removal of branches or leaves throughout their life. Basically, the benefits that we pursue with the different general pruning techniques are those that we already saw in section 3.

In order not to be repetitive, we will go directly to analyze how to perform topping and pruning in chili plants. We will study how and when to perform these techniques so that you are able to perform them correctly.

4. Topping chilli plants


As we already said, with the topping on chili plants we will seek to promote leafy growth, delay flowering, achieving better fruit production. If you topping your chile plants incorrectly, you can greatly damage them. Let’s see how and when to do it correctly.

The right time to top off chile plants is when these plants have reached a height of 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm). This usually happens a few weeks after transplanting the seedlings. You want to make sure the plant has already developed 3-5 sets of true leaves.

Since you are interested in knowing how to prune this herb, I have no doubt that it will be useful to know about the pruning of any of these plants:

4.1 How to top chili plants? Step by Step.

The process to perform this task is very simple, follow these five steps and you will do it correctly.

  • The first thing you should do is wait for the right moment to topping. As we have already said, it should be about 15 cm tall and have between 3 and 5 sets of leaves.
  • Find some sharp scissors or a knife.
  • Cut the main stem leaving one or two pairs of leaves. If you don’t leave those leaves, you will most likely kill off your chili plant.
  • After topping is a good time to water abundantly.
  • In a couple of samanas you will see how new and vigorous shoots have developed. You can repeat the previous hedging task with these new shoots.

Do not forget to give it all the necessary care so that the plant develops correctly. In this way you will help to overcome the stress that topping can cause in chili plants.

5. Pruning chilli plants


We have already taken an in-depth look at how and when to top your chile plants. It is time to talk about how and when to carry out general pruning tasks.

5.1 When to prune chilli plants?

Depending on the type of pruning we are talking about will depend on the specific moment in which you should prune your chili plants. We have already analyzed when to prune with the topping technique, therefore we have the following pruning:

  • Cleaning pruning: those prunings in which we will eliminate dead and/or diseased branches must be carried out at any time of the year. The sooner you cut off diseased branches from your chile plants, the better, as you’ll be preventing the disease from progressing.
  • Thinning pruning: the pruning with which we seek to reduce the foliage must be carried out during the growing season. In other words, you can make them during the spring and summer months.
  • Late pruning: These prunings are done in late summer or early fall. With this pruning, what is sought is to redirect all the energies of the plant towards the maturation of the fruits. That is why at the end of the season flowers and small fruits can be cut so that all the energy goes to the main fruits.

Always the ideal time to prune chili plants will also go hand in hand with the weather. But as general guidelines, what we have just seen will be more than enough for you.

5.2 How to prune chilli plants?

Knowing when to prune your chili plants, it is time to see step by step how to perform the task correctly.

  • Identify the purpose: it is very important to be clear about the objective with which we are going to prune. Without being clear about this, we will not be able to even determine if we are doing the task at the right time. If you don’t know why you’re going to prune, it’s better that you can’t.
  • Choose the right time: With a clear purpose, you can already determine when the right time to prune is. You can go over this again in the previous section (5.1).
  • Use the right tools: It’s time to look for your tools. Whether you are going to use scissors or a simple knife, do not forget that they are properly sterilized.
  • Remove dead or diseased shoots: if the plant has diseased, dead or yellowed branches, you should start pruning by cutting them. Do not forget to properly dispose of diseased branches, do not leave them near other plants.
  • Thin the plant: In case the chili plant has overcrowded foliage, you can selectively remove some branches. This will improve air entry and allow light to penetrate better. Be sure to cut those branches that grow very close to each other. Always make the cut above a knot, this will allow the plant to sprout again.
  • Fruit thinning (optional): if you want to get bigger fruits, you can thin the fruit. Midway through the season, with all fruit production done, you can selectively remove some of the smaller fruit. This will reduce the energy to the fruits that remain on the plant, being able to reach a larger size.
  • Carry out a late pruning (optional): at the end of the season, when the fruits begin to ripen, you can cut the flowers that will no longer bear fruit and those smaller fruits. In this way, it can cause the plant to dedicate itself solely to maturing the remaining stems.

Remember that chile plants respond well to pruning and that a well-maintained plant is more likely to produce healthy, abundant fruit. Periodically inspect your plants, adjust your pruning strategy as needed, and maintain good hygiene with your tools to promote the overall health and productivity of your chili plants.

6. How to prune chilli plants for maximum yield?


At the end of the article we will add useful information so that you can apply it to your chili plants. We have found this video on the asdasdasd channel where you will learn more about pruning chili plants. More specifically, you will see how to increase the yield of fruits in your chili plants. I hope you find it useful. 🙂

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