fully (if the latter push upwards from the bottom to prevent any damage to the roots) and
place the seedling into the new pot, gently firming the compost before watering lightly.
This re-potting should be repeated into successively larger pots until transplanting outside.
If you are continuing to grow in pots, the final size of pot should be one large enough to
hold a plant which will produce a sufficient harvest. Therefore, if you are growing orna-
mental varieties, often a small pot will suffice, as the amount of peppers grown is largely
irrelevant, and the smaller pot is more visually attractive.
After 7-10 weeks your seedlings will have grown to the point where they can be
transplanted outside (weather permitting). Alternatively, if you have purchased seedlings,
you are now ready to plant outdoors. However, before you do so, you must first harden off
Whether you have grown your seedlings from seed at home or have purchased them
from your local garden center, your seedlings will have led a pretty comfortable life so far.
Thanks to your careful attention they will have grown up in a “goldilocks” environment,
with the temperature not too hot or too cold, excellent lighting and so when they get trans-
planted outdoors it can be quite a shock to them. To minimize this, it is essential to harden
them before planting outdoors. Over a period of 1-3 weeks (depending on the variety), this
hardening off allows them to acclimatize to the real world, preventing them from succumb-
ing to breakage, windburn and sunburn, and allowing them to fruit quicker. If you have
bought seedlings from a garden center, ask them if the plants have been hardened off.
On the first day, place your seedlings outdoors in a sheltered shaded spot for an hour
or so. Keep them away from direct sunlight on this first day. Make sure to bring the seed-
lings indoors after this short time and do not leave overnight at this stage. Over the coming
days extend the length of time that the plants are outdoors and gradually move them from
the shade to direct sunlight. As some varieties can be sensitive to sunlight, it is good to
use some lace to cover the plant and give some gentle shading to the plants. You can use a
number of layers (2 or 3) and gradually remove the layers. If your plants are showing signs
of sunburn, a lace covering can be used throughout the growing season. The plant will still
receive sufficient sunlight with this covering, but will be protected also. At this stage you
should also move the seedlings to a less sheltered area such that they can sway in a gentle
breeze. Care should be taken here that it is only a gentle breeze; you want the plant stem
to strengthen up, however you don't want the seedling to encounter a strong breeze which
could potentially damage or break the stem.