Chili Pepper Growth Stages

Understanding the chili pepper plant’s life cycle will help you be a better gardener. What are the growth stages it goes through?

The chili pepper is a berry-fruit of plants in the genus Capsicum of the nightshade family Solanaceae. It is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the Americas and has been a part of the human diet since approximately 7,500 BCE. 

Let’s look at the life cycle of the chili pepper to better understand this plant.


Seed germination is the first stage of the chili plant’s life cycle.

The simplest and most obvious method to encourage germination is to simply plant the seeds in a pot with regular potting soil. This is suitable for a wide range of varieties.

Some chili varieties will require the seeds to be pre-soaked before planting to weaken the seed wall. This will allow the seedling to push through the wall as it grows. 

The seeds need a temperature of at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit to germinate; temperatures between 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit are best. You can create an environment like this by placing a mini greenhouse on top of a heating mat. Provide a moist and humid environment to further encourage germination.


Within 7 to 10 days, tiny white sprouts will emerge from the seeds. The sprouts will show that the seeds were planted correctly and at the correct temperature. If more than one seed germinated, carefully separate the seedlings or cut the weakest ones at the soil level. 

Fill a slightly larger pot with fresh seedling soil or compost that is no more than 3 inches wide. Transfer the seedling and its soil to a new container.

sprouting chili plant in a damp soil

First true leaves

The first leaves will emerge 4 to 5 weeks after sowing. These are the plant’s first true leaves, and they show how far it has progressed.

Third true leaves

The plant will produce a second set of leaves, known as third true leaves, after the first true leaves. This means the plant is ready to be transplanted. Before moving the plant outside, slowly bring it to the window to harden it up.

sprouting chili seedlings

Vegetation Growth

Depending on the cultivar, the plants will reach a height between 2 and 8 feet. The stem will be dark green at first, then grow a woody covering with a light brown tint as it hardens. The leaves will also be dark green.

The chili plant will branch out in two directions some time during its development, forming a Y-shape. The lesser branches will go on in the same manner. Fertilize your plants on a regular basis. Tomato fertilizers, compost, and well-rotted manure are excellent for chili pepper plants. 

Chili peppers mature at a very different rate, depending on the cultivar. It can take anywhere between 60 and 150 days for a plant to reach maturity. The hotter the pepper, the longer it takes for the plant to mature.

Chili peppers need the proper quantity of light, temperature, and nourishment to reach their full potential. Under less-than-ideal conditions, the plant may not even blossom.

fresh siling labuyo plant


The flower is the plant’s sexually reproductive organ. Both male and female components are carried by the flowers. The female portion of the flower is the ovary, which is located in the center of the bloom. This area is encircled by pollen-carrying filaments.

Domesticated chili pepper plants produce flowers that are around 1 cm to 2 cm in diameter and vary in color from white to white with yellow spots to purple, depending on the species, when exposed to direct sunshine after the growth period. Flowers will develop on the tops of the branches. 

Chili peppers produce blossoms on a continuous basis. If the flower is fertilized, a pepper will form. If there is no pollination, the blossom will dry out and fall off, making room for a new bud.

green chili and chili flowers


Pollination is required for the pepper plant’s life cycle to continue.

Pollen may be dropped straight from the anthers to the stigma. When insects visit the flowers, pollen from one flower may be transported to another, resulting in cross-pollination.

If you need to pollinate your chili plant’s blossoms, start by gently shaking it every now and then. Pollen then falls from the filaments and onto the stigma. If this doesn’t work, try touching the centers of each of the petals with a brush or a plastic swab.

Pollen will proceed downwards to the eggs after it has successfully reached the stigma on the ovary. This will fertilize the egg. The fresh seeds will be produced from these eggs.

a bee pollinating on a chili plant


Following fertilization, the flower petals will fall off, and the ovary will begin to mature into a single chili fruit.

The ovary develops into a fleshy pericarp that wraps two or more locular chambers at this stage. The pericarp then thickens and expands to become the pepper as we know it. The locular cavities are the hollow areas inside the chili where the seeds develop.

organic chili plant with chilis ready for harvest


The developing pepper will be green at first, much like the plant’s leaves. Then, it develops into the form and color of the particular chili pepper you have planted.

The pepper will be ready for harvesting anywhere from 60 to 150 days after planting. You can pluck them while they are still green or wait until they have changed their color.

Use gloves when you are harvesting your peppers, especially if you have planted a hot chili pepper variety. Otherwise, the capsaicin might burn your skin. Cut the fruit from the plant with a clean knife so as not to damage the stem. 

Leila Haynes
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