Guide to Pruning Chilli Plants in Australia

Pruning chilli plants can help them produce for multiple seasons and can also encourage more fruit production.

If you live in a more temperate climate and you can protect your plant from frost, you can actually grow your chilli plant as a perennial. This means that one plant can live for many years if you give it the right care.

Of course, gardeners who live in tropical climates may already know this as it’s common for chillies to remain green and full of foliage right throughout the year. 

So, let’s delve into how you can prune your chilli plants so that you can have them producing for numerous seasons.

When to prune your chilli plant

The main time you want to prune your chilli plant is in autumn to prepare it for winter. It will be dormant over the colder months so no growth will happen. However, if you prune it back well, and keep the plant in a sheltered spot away from cold winds and frosts, it should start to produce new growth in spring.

chilli plants 1 | Fruit & Vegetables

If you have a new plant that you’re growing, you can tip-prune it in spring in order to produce a bushier growth habit.

Also, remember to pick the chillies as soon as they’re ripe if you like to use them in your cooking.

This will encourage the plant to produce more fruit right throughout the warmer season.

How to prune your chilli plant

When autumn comes around and the weather starts to cool down, you’ll notice that your chilli plant will start to lose its vibrancy and the leaves will start to drop.

chilli plant leaves | Fruit & Vegetables

This is the perfect time to give the plant a good prune to prepare it for the winter dormancy period.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Remove any remaining fruit to use in the kitchen
  • Prune back all the branches and create an open structure
  • Leave around 3 to 4 main branches and remove all the leaves

After you’ve done all of this, your chilli plant will look similar to a bare-rooted rose bush with only a few stems and no foliage.

If you’re in a colder climate, consider growing your chilli in a pot and then moving this into a protected spot, like into a greenhouse or even into a room in your house, once you’ve pruned it back.

chilli plant inside | Fruit & Vegetables

Then, in spring, bring the plant back outside into the sunshine. In late spring, you should start to see some new growth. 

Make sure that you only water your dormant chilli plant sparingly but don’t let the soil dry out completely.

Now, here’s a disclaimer. As we’re dealing with living plants and growing them out of their natural habitat, not all chilli plants will respond to being treated as a perennial. Some will just die and not come back year after year.

However, it’s worth trying to coax your chilli plant through winter if you find that it’s a really productive plant. After all, as gardeners, we’re all amateur scientists, and experimenting with our plants is part of the fun of gardening.

Advantages of overwintering your chilli plants

There are a few advantages to overwintering your chilli plants.

Firstly, you don’t have to start with new plants again in spring. What this means is that your plant will start producing much earlier in the season and you’ll have a plant that produces fruit for a longer period of time.

chilli plants 2 | Fruit & Vegetables

As the plant that you’ve coaxed through winter, already has a strong root system, it will more than likely produce more fruit because it can put all of its energy into fruit production.


Should I pinch out the tops of my chilli plants?

One of the best ways to encourage lots of branches on your chilli plant is to pinch out the tips of each new shoot once your chilli plant is around 30 cm tall.

How do you keep chilli plants from getting leggy?

Tip pruning is essential to stop your chilli plant from becoming too leggy. To tip prune, all you have to do is just pinch off the tips of each branch. When you do this, two more branches will grow from this point.

Should I let my chilli plant flower?

You should definitely let your chilli plant flower if you want the plant to produce fruit. The fruits will grow from the flowers as this is the life cycle of all living plants.

How do I get my chilli plant to produce more fruit?

The best way to encourage your chilli plant to produce more fruit is to harvest your chillies as soon as they are ripe. It also helps if you fertilise your plant regularly with a plant food that is high in potassium. Ensure that the plant is growing in a sunny position for the best fruiting.

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Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.


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