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I have been growing chilli plants for the last couple if years. In the first year I always get a decent amount of fruit considering the size of the plants. However, fairly consistently my chilli plants stop growing after their first season. They get to a certain height and just seem to stop. Some give up all together and just turn into sticks, others make it through the winter but then don't ever seem to get any bigger. I have seen chilli plants get quite large, a metre high or more, so I'm curious as to why mine are stunted.

I'm reasonably confident they are getting all the food they need and they always get plenty of water. So I'm wandering, what is the trick to getting large and plentiful chilli plants?!

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Do you know what cultivars you've planted? –  wax eagle Aug 26 '12 at 1:53
    
Unfortunately no, I bought these before I started paying attention to the important details! They produce long, thin chillies, about 2-3cm at the moment. Mostly red chillies too. Not sure if that tells you anything? –  rohan Aug 26 '12 at 3:08
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2 Answers

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I don't think there's anything that unusual here.

Although technically perennials, most people grow peppers (and tomatoes) as annuals. I've grown quite a few peppers for about ten years now, and rarely manage to over-winter them. We have frosts, so I can only overwinter those that I can bring inside. Then I think they are susceptible to low light, aphids, disease, etc when they are relatively dormant.

If they are making it through winter (and sometimes when I try, I do manage it), I always pot them out into a bed, and usually get excellent growth. Even if most of the plant died back to 3-4" of stem, the roots are still good, and in that soil with good water & sun, off they go! You don't say if you are growing in pots or not, but if you are, then I think this is the reason: They are probably pot bound and also need some fresh compost.

re. metre high peppers: I don't get them quite that big, but they definitely can grow quite bushy and large. As well as conditions, it does vary a lot by variety. For example, I've had Gypsy (a Bell), Big Jim (an Anaheim/Hatch), and Sweet Paprika grow large - but never any of the C.frutescens cultivars (Tabasco, Twilight, etc).

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I usually move them out of the garden when they start struggling, into pots. The pots are fairly large, so I don't think that's the reason. I'm relatively new to gardening, only these last few years, so it could be I'm expecting too much out of my plants. I'm just now starting another round of fertiliser, compost and mulch, so hopefully I'll see some improvement coming into Spring. –  rohan Aug 28 '12 at 5:02
    
Digging them out of the ground into pots, will disturb their roots - this will not help in the short term. –  winwaed Aug 29 '12 at 12:07
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If you are digging out of the ground into a container I would suggest trimming the root ball down quite a bit.

If you have trimmed the foliage the plant will not require a huge amount of root. Peppers are pretty tough once established so I wouldn't worry about transplant shock too much

Give it a good hair cut - pop it in a medium size pot then next spring up-pot it again and you should be good to go. The main issue is keeping it warm over winter and into enough light in the spring

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