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Chilies produce flavor and variety for us to use in the kitchen and bring beauty to our gardens. To get chilies to thrive in your garden, you must provide them with an ideal growing environment. Can ericaceous compost contribute to providing this ideal growing medium for chilies?
Chilies can be grown in ericaceous compost if the compost does not amend the pH outside the plants’ ideal range. Use ericaceous compost to amend the soil for chilies to be between the pH range of 6.0 and 7.0, which is the ideal range for growing most chili varieties.
Understanding the requirements for chilies to grow well is the key to growing healthy, fruitful plants. Ericaceous compost can play a role in creating the ideal conditions for chilies to grow, but it must be used with caution, taking care not to overdo the soil amendment.
Do Chilies Grow Well In Ericaceous Compost?
Ericaceous compost is designed for a specific purpose in the garden. It will amend the soil’s acidity to produce a growing environment tailor-made for acid-loving plants.
Many people surmise that the plant loves acidic soil because the chili fruit is hot. This is a partial truth, but it lacks the targeted understanding that we, as gardeners, need to grow chilies for the best results.
To establish whether ericaceous compost benefits chilies, we need to know what the chiles prefer in their growing environment to maximize growth ad fruit production.
What pH Soil Is Best For Growing Chilies?
Surprisingly, chilies do not like to grow in soil with a pH as low as some other plants, such as blueberries, that prefer a soil pH of as low as 5.5.
Chilies like growing in slightly acidic soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Many gardeners, myself included, like to aim for an average of pH 6.5, giving a little wiggle room on either side.
It is true that the more acidic the soil is, the hotter the chilies will be, but the soil acidity must still be above a ph of 6.0 for the plant to thrive.
I don’t like my chilies extremely hot, so I use the middle-of-the-road pH of 6.5 and have had good results. To get your chili plants to produce hooter chilies, aim for a pH of 6.3 or 6.2 to get more kick in the fruit.
Ericaceous compost can be an excellent means to amend the soil pH to your preferred pH for growing chilies, but care must be taken to keep the soil pH above the 6.0 mark.
It is worth noting that not all chili plant varieties have the same ideal soil pH requirements. Most chili varieties prefer a pH of between 6.0 and 7.0, but varieties such as poblano chilies grow well in soils with a pH as low as 5.5.
Can You Grow Chilies In the Ground With Ericaceous Compost?
If your soil is particularly alkaline, amending the soil with ericaceous compost is an excellent option, but some care is required with applying the compost.
Ericaceous compost is made to amend soil pH and can lower the soil pH to 5.5 or even as low as 5.0. Using too much ericaceous compost can lower the pH too much, which will hamper your chili plant’s growth and fruit production.
Add ericaceous compost to the soil in small amounts and test the soil pH the day after each dose to monitor the pH drop.
It is easy to add more compost to lower the soil pH, but if you add too much and the pH drops too far, you cannot remove it from the soil. If the soil pH drops too low, you will need to add lime or another additive to raise the pH to within the tolerance level for the chili plants.
The amount of ericaceous you add to the soil will depend on the current pH of your soil. It is crucial to test your soil pH before adding amendments to it; otherwise, you are operating from an unknown reference point, and you can easily add too much ericaceous compost.
Can You Grow Chilies In Pots With Ericaceous Compost?
Ericaceous compost has all the other properties of normal compost, such as accessible nutrients and minerals from the decomposed plant matter, but the compost is more acidic than standard compost.
This means that ericaceous compost should be used as an additive rather than as a singular growing medium for chilies. You cannot fill a plant pot with ericaceous compost, plant your chili plant and expect it to grow.
Standard potting soil is the best growing medium to grow chilis in a pot, and ericaceous compost can be used in small amounts to lower the potting soil pH to the desired range for growing chilies.
Test the pH of the standard potting mix to establish a baseline pH and add small amounts of ericaceous compost, frequently testing the pH to get to the ideal pH for chilies.
What Other Conditions Do Chilies Need To Thrive?
Soil pH is not the only growing condition that must be met to get your chilies to grow healthy and produce a good crop yield.
The soil must be well-drained to prevent waterlogging, which will adversely affect the plant’s growth and cause it to produce fewer chilies. Extreme cases of waterlogging can cause the chili plant to die. The soil must be moist to keep your chilies happy, but never too wet.
Chili plants are sun-loving plants and prefer warm temperatures. Grow them in a spot that receives full sun for as much of the day as possible.
Keep the chili plants sheltered from dry winds that may dehydrate the plant and dry out the soil too quickly.
Chili plants do not like cold weather, so the best season to grow these plants is in your warm season. Plant chilies in spring when the nighttime temperature does not drop below 59°F or 15°C to get a good harvest in the summer.
Growing chilies is not difficult as long as you give the plants the conditions they need to grow well. Ericaceous can be part of your strategy to create the ideal growing environment for your chili plants, but it cannot be used as the only means of fertilizing your chilies.
A mixture of ericaceous compost and standard compost is usually the best strategy to get the ideal pH range in the growing medium to produce healthy chili plants.