Picture illustrates my chilli pepper plants. They are of three varieties; a Kashmiri chilli (the tall ones at the back), a peri-peri (bushy; white flowers with pale green fruits) and a purple variety I wasn't given a name for (dark leaves and purple flowers). The tiny one in the front left is the same variety as the vigorous one front right and planted at the same time; I believe it is feeble because of a broken tap root on planting up, they were very fragile.

The Kashmiri in particular seem keen to grow vegetation but have no hint of flower buds whatsoever. Given their size now (about 18 inches/45cm) would it promote fruiting if I were to top them? One of the plants has branched, and each branch has branched again, whereas the others haven't and still have a single stem.

The others (apart from the purple runt) look nice and vigorous but I'm wondering whether it would be beneficial to the size and quality of the fruits if I were to prune the plants to open them up and concentrate their energies on fewer fruits. Googling for advice on bushy capsicums seems to give contradictory views on whether pruning is a good thing or not. Even though I enjoy cooking with chillies, even a modest harvest from these will be more than I can use, so I am happy to cut quantity for the sake of quality.

The growing situation is in a plastic grow-house on a west-facing patio in southern England, which gets sunshine only after midday. The grow-house is usually zipped up and gets hot; I only open it to let in pollinators. I have never seen the plants wilt even slightly. They are fed weekly on a standard concentration of tomato fertiliser.

planter of eight chilli pepper plants

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