Chilies are a popular addition to many meals, especially for people who love spiciness, but did you know you could be growing chilies indoors under lights on your own, instead of buying them from a store? This is a great way to not only save money but keep a constant supply of chilies.
In today’s article, we’ll be learning how to grow chilies indoors!
Why Use Lights?
Of course, you can grow chilies outdoors, but there are a few advantages to growing your chilies indoors using lights. Firstly, LED lights can accommodate your chilies for whatever phase of growth they’re in.
Your chilies might need UV, red or white light at a precise moment and you can definitely purchase lights that can offer this to your chilies. This way, the light is optimized for the stage of growth your chilies are in – that doesn’t happen with the Sun.
This allows you to cultivate and harvest your chilies throughout the entire year, while if you’re growing them outdoors – you’re dependent on the Sun and you’re definitely going to have to follow growing and harvesting seasons.
Lights can also ensure the proper temperature. Lights usually don’t generate the same amount of heat you’d get from the Sun, so you can rest assured that you won’t burn your chilies. Anything above 28 degrees Celsius is going to burn your chilies, and lights usually don’t get the temperature that high.
This also means that the soil won’t dry out, given that the temperature isn’t as high, so you’ll be able to use it longer and you won’t have to water as much.
Relationship Between Chilies and Light
Chilies need a lot of light – however, they don’t want to get burned. They need at least 6 hours of light a day to grow properly and to stay healthy, but the same rule doesn’t apply to artificial lighting.
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This is because, as we already explained, artificial lighting doesn’t provide your peppers with nearly as much heat as the Sun does. That’s why chilies need about 14 hours of artificial lighting every day.
The most important light you’ll need in your arsenal is the red light. It’s now known that red light promotes the highest quantity of flowers when it comes to chilies, but you’ll also need some blue.
When it comes to choosing intensity, you’re going to need to find very intense lights – when you’re buying lights online, look for lights that have more than 400 μmol/m²/s – this is the unit of measurement of useful light (also known as PPFD).
So, every light with a label stating that it has more than 400 μmol/m²/s is fair game and it’s going to work with your chilies.
Growing Chilies Indoors
It usually takes about three months for chilies to get from the sowing stage to the flowering stage, which isn’t a long time, but remember that different varieties display different growing speeds. It will then usually take a few more months for the fruit to mature and become ready for harvesting.
The optimal temperature for chilies is between 22 and 28 degrees Celsius, with the absolute minimum being 6 degrees Celsius – chilies will die if the temperature drops below that.
What’s great about growing chilies indoors is that you can grow them all year long as you don’t depend on the seasons – as long as you can control the lights, temperature, and humidity.
When it comes to humidity – chilies like a relatively humid environment with a humidity percentage over 50% – you don’t want the air to become too dry as your chilies will wither. Use a water bowl on the radiator to improve humidity.
A big difference in comparison to outdoor growing comes in the form of pests. You’re much more likely going to have to deal with spiders when you’re growing your chilies indoors. Mites can also quickly attack the plant and it’s best to use neem oil to provide protection.
You need to keep the soil evenly moist, but it’s important to not overwater as that will cause root rot. It’s also important to avoid drought – use a mulch to keep the top of the soil moist for longer.
Chilies are usually ready for harvesting in mid-summer and autumn, but indoor-grown chilies have no set schedule as you’re the one controlling everything. You can use these chilies raw or you can pickle them, but they’ll eventually dry up and shrivel on the plant if you don’t pick them up, so make sure to pick them up on time.
It’s best to pick the fruits when they’re green as this encourages cropping. If you leave the fruit on the plant to become ripe, you’re risking reducing your harvest potential by 25%.
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Can you grow chilies under lights?
Yes, you can definitely grow chilies under lights! This way, you can control the temperature, as well as light exposure throughout the entire year, allowing your to grow chilies without pausing. You can even grow the chilies during winter!
How much light do chili plants need?
When grown outdoors, they need about 6-8 hours of light, but indoor grown chilies need at least 14 hours of light. This shouldn't be a problem, as most modern indoor lights have timers on them.
Do chilies need light to germinate?
Yes, chilies need light throughout the entire growing process and it's impossible for them to grow without proper lighting. LED chili lights are the best choice for most people.
Nowadays, anyone can grow their own chilies indoors throughout the entire year, even during winter. This is thanks to LED lights and modern heating systems – controlling humidity, temperature and light are enough to ensure successful growth.
It’s important to give your chilies at least 14 hours of artificial light exposure every day and to keep the temperature between 22 and 28 degrees Celsius. Humidity is also important, as chilies like humidity over 50%.
Make sure to harvest them when they’re still green and let them ripen up away from the plant, as you’re propagating growth that way.