help potting up my Little Elf Chilli seedlings

strawberry_bubblesOctober 14, 2012


Have some little elf pepper plants that need potting up.

Currently in a 4inch pot with 20 sprouted seedlings close togather all showing a set of leaves so maybe time to pot up. Never expected all to sprout so well.

How many should i add to a pot?

how big should the pots be roughly?

new to growing. ive read some plant 2-3 seeds per pot and trim later. overall i only want 2 plants maybe 3 for myself.

would like to make the most without throwing any way.. might just give a few to friends.. make a nice gift if i could get them a few inches first!

any suggestion..


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DMForcier(8 DFW)

IMO you've already gone past the 2-3 per pot stage and next need to move to one per 4" pot, larger or smaller depending on what pots you have. You don't say how tall they are.

The timing of this is going to be tricky. They are crowded together and there will be some trauma from separating and handling. To survive that you want them bigger. But the bigger they are the more the roots will intertwine. So maybe do half the pot now and wait for a while before doing the other half?

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 1:20PM
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DMForcier is right, you probably shouldn't have planted them all in one small pot. I either plant 2 or 3 seeds in each of the small 1 to 2" cells of the large starter kits or I simply start with 3.5 to 4" pots and put 4 seeds in each. Once the seedlings get one or two sets of true leaves, then I prune out all but one in each cell. They can stay in the 4" pots until they are about a foot tall, then it is time to up them again into 1 gallon pots or even their full size summer pots.

In your situation with 20 in one single 4" pot, to get three single plants, I would probably begin repotting them now. If you wait, the roots will only get more intertwined as they get bigger. I would proceed like this:
1: try to separate the seedlings into three or four distinct clumps, then cut all but one clump out of the pot and replant them into other 4" pots. Leave one clump in the existing 4" pot.
2: After the seedlings get a bit bigger, say two sets of TRUE leaves, then cull all but one out of each 4" pot. Just snip the others off at the soil line.
This should give you the 3-4 separate plants you are looking for. Pot up as they grow in size.

Seedlings just before final culling to one per pot.

Seedlings just before potting up to 1 gallon pots:

Here they after repotting in 1 gallon pots.

I then pot up to 5-7 gallon pots just before putting them outside for the summer.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 1:34AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Nice pictorial, Bruce.
I agree with both DM and Bruce.


    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 1:26PM
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nice to hear from you guys. now i know i'm in the right place.

very nice plants indeed Bruce. enjoyed looking through those pictures.

sorry for the late reply guys. been really busy!

Now i have one less problem to worry about. i'll get the peppers into their new pots today. cheers for the heads up. i was afraid this might be the case..

DM the seedlings are only an inch big and after much reading it seems they haven't shown true set of leaves yet..hopefully buying me some more time.

will prob just pot them all up togather..actually might leave 1 or 2 in the same pot in case others suffer stress from potting..thanks for advice btw!

Ill try potting up as carefully, maybe cut the plastic pot from the side and gently pull away the medium and work at each plant..lets see..easier said then done :)

ill try and get some pics up too once i have them in new 3 litre pots. pots should arrive today hopefully.

i think that's everything for now..

before i pot up today into a coco medium was wondering if i should just buy some veg compost from the garden centre and use this as a medium instead.. will be much easier when it comes to feeding as compost contains the food so will be just water i assume? reason i ask is i have had a chilli plant in my kitchen for a year in same medium as was sold in the shop and it still gives me chillies today..nice and bushy even tho all i do is water it occasionally..

thinking that would be a better route for me.. need your suggestions ? never used coco so really want to keep this simple and go for soil..

talk soon..

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 5:43AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I recommend a bark-based mix personally, but we'll work with the ingredients you have available.
I'm assuming you're in the UK(?) from the reference to "compost" as potting mix and the spelling
of "centre" ;-) So, yes, I would prefer the vegetable compost, but I strongly encourage you to add
a LOT of Perlite - more than half Perlite by volume.

The Coco holds too much moisture and tends to have a high pH compared to other potting media.

The nutrients in the mix will be used up quickly and extra fertilization should be provided.


    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 11:10AM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

Yeah, at this point you're not as concerned with nutrients as you are with water. Entire generations of eager young plants have been killed by too much love - too much watering. First establish a medium - and a practice - that keeps the water at a healthy level. Then feeding them will be easy.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 12:27PM
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thanks for the input. makes sense now.

slowly leaning away from coco as its more work..

anyway sorry for the late reply. ill stay away from nutrients for now. Although the other night i noticed a a few leaves turning purple so gave them a little feed high in P. will back off and use water for another week or so.

I've decided to change from coco to compost. this way i can give some plants away with less maintenance required.

any idea which compost i could go for.. john ins 1 & 2.. mixed together maybe..

I'm aiming to have a medium/compost that contains good Nutrients already..only requires mostly water feeds with the occasional food. any suggestions..

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 9:44AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Sure, grow them in the ground if that's your goal ;-)

There might be some misconception here. Are you wanting to "feed" the plants from organics in the soil?
Or do you want a soil with fertilizer already added?

If the former, that's just not going to be viable with a small soil volume.
If the latter, that will work...but the nutrients won't last as long as you might think...
if you intend to re-pot frequently, it could work alright.

As for the soil...I'll repeat my suggestion. Perlite. LOTS of Perlite - let the Perlite
be the dominant fraction of your soil. Mix with whichever compost you prefer to purchase.


    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 11:08AM
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sorry should've been more clear.

Basically trying to imitate the growing conditions of a chilli plant i bought from M&S nearly a year ago. Up till today i have only been giving it water and harvest a handufll of chillies now and then... was under the impression i could do that to..

still undecided now arghhh grrr heheh might just stick to the coco there already in..

could you recommend a nutrient please? is tomorite ok to use through out starting with small doses.. is there any feed out there that can be used through out..

maybe to get a better understanding on their feeding i should look at NPK .. so go for something with high N for early week.. come summer & fruti time i can move to a more potassium,phosphorus concentrated feed.. ive heard chillies like allot of p/k? just curious if i should use diff ratios throughout or one for early days and diff ratio for when they fruit..

as you can tell im trying to keep it as simple as possible:)

any ideas...

    Bookmark   October 26, 2012 at 2:56PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

If you use Miracle-Gro or similar potting soil, you don't need to add any feed - at least until they get to be teenagers.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2012 at 2:38PM
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thanks once again.

looked around for some nutrients to give to the chillies..

hoping someone could take a look at let me know if they will be good in coco.

There different ones. some one part and others 2 or 3.

is chilli focus one part feed good. This seems to be the easiest way. just increasing the dosage the bigger they get if i'm correct..


GH Floraseries a 3 part nutrient. looks tricky.

any ideas if running with chilli focus one part nutrient will do the job..

speak soon

    Bookmark   October 29, 2012 at 6:04PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

I'm not familiar with those. Can you provide links?

    Bookmark   October 29, 2012 at 9:23PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I would just use a single fertilizer with micro-nutrients added.
Increase the dosage as the plants grow. Plants use nutrients in the same *ratio*
pretty much elaborate formulas are unnecessary.


    Bookmark   October 30, 2012 at 10:53AM
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just logged on to let you know i'll be going for the single part feed.. prob chilli focus.

as of now.. the plants are still young and only 1inch tall, so just sticking to water feeds. will give them a very light feed in a week or so and take it from there..

once again thanks allot for the help..

let you know how i get on..

take care

    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 1:22PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Very good.
I don't start feeding seedlings until they have their first set of true leaves.


    Bookmark   November 4, 2012 at 8:58PM
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Hi guys/girls,

remember me, hope your keeping well :) sorry for not getting back to anyone.. wow, surprised the thread is still here the way it was let...

remembered my password aswell so felt an update was due from my side..

i'll begin with some pictures tomorrow if anyone's still around, i'll likely need a hand or two please..

speak soon

    Bookmark   March 30, 2013 at 5:16PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

We're here. See massive number of recent posts.

How are your little plants getting along?

    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 9:15PM
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good to see you guys..

they are coming along okay..

just preparing for the summer now, when it gets warmer they can go out..

Picture shows 3 wahacca on the right and 3 little elf on the left..

currently on a shelf in my workshop right under some tube lights, feeding once a week.

flowers only began to show recently..

wahacca has 2 tall lanky plants which until today where growing together so separated them as delicately as possible.. which probably wasn't since it was my first time handling plants. hopefully they pull through.. strange as one wahacca plant is small and bushy potted up today from a 5ooml container to final pot.. could've been pot size restricting horizontal growth..

the little elf all look the same and healthy to me apart from a few flower which look dead.. any idea if there supposed to be bushy and crowded.. guessing they'll pick up once outside..

food: garden center chilli mix nutrients(local garden shop)
NPK(3-2-5)increasing doses accordingly..

thanks for looking guys

speak soon

    Bookmark   April 2, 2013 at 12:58PM
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reckon their good to go outside in around a week or so? or is it still too cold..

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 4:31PM
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All depends. Where are you?

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 7:37PM
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I have just bought Little Elf seeds myself and this page is very informative.

Mine are currently at the 'popping up through the soil' stage, although I have a couple that have two 'leafs.' (See pic below).

I have a few questions:

1) For the seeds that now have leafs, should I remove them from the pot? I am concerned that if I do this, it may negatively affect the other seeds. Mainly because the soil will be disturber and I'm worried the seeds may disappear further into the pot and soil.

2) Temperature. I currently use an electric propagator, which keeps them at approx 20'c. Once they start growing leaves, is it okay to remove them from the propagator? I have a conservatory, but weather in UK at the moment is cold and cloudy (zero sun). Will it be ok to leave them in the conservatory as look as the cold weather doesn't continue for a long period?

3) I potted them all in John Innes Seed Compost. Is it ok to use this for the plants when I re-pot them? If I add Perlite, as suggested by someone above.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 8:09AM
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You could divide them right now, but you may want to wait just a tad longer until they have a set of TRUE leaves and a bit more roots. But not much longer after that. For one thing, the roots will be intertwined and for another, those peat pots kinda suck for anything but germinating.

As far as the temp is concerned, try to keep them warm -- not in a "cold" conservatory. Right now, at this stage --- most important is light and warmth and air circulation..

Got any shoplights or CFL's? If so, keep them about an inch above the seedlings for 12-18 hours a day(more the better) and that will be all the warmth they need as long as the ambient temp isn't too cool. Ideal temps are between 80-87F, but they'll do fine down to 70F(just may be a little slow going).

May want to set up a small fan also.

Do not overwater! let them get almost bone dry between waterings and, in my opinion, bottom water for the 1st few weeks.

Never heard of that mix but it should be fine with some added perlite. I've noticed a lot of the experts here like MG orchid mix also.

Good Luck.


    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 9:22PM
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This is how much of a noob I am.. plants need air circulation?

I've kept them in the propagator quite often, so maybe I should leave them out a bit.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 5:31PM
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So they are dead now. The leaves dried up/shrunk and now they are dead. I have a number of concerns - water them too much, not enough, not enough sunlight, kept them in the propagator too often.

Anyone have an inkling as to what it might be?

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 11:59AM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

Probably all of the above.

Plants need air circulation 1) to help evaporate transpired water, 2) to move the plant so that the stem and leaves are strengthened. Put a plant that grew up in still air outside and the wind will flatten it.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2013 at 5:34PM
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How do you recommend giving air circulation? Leave them outside on a non-windy day?

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 6:01AM
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Might've been "damping-off" that killed them which is all relative to moisture. When they're YOUNG young, water from the bottom by setting into an inch of water in a larger container for about 15 minutes. Also, I imagine that propagator is humid--- not a good thing once they break the surface. Once germinated, they should be brought out, placed under shoplights or cfl's and then let the soil become almost bone dry in between waterings. If you can, set up a small fan to circulate the air.

Also, to combat damping off, weak solutions of chamomile tea and/or hydrogen peroxide has been found to be effective.

Google damping off and see if it relates to your dead babies.


    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 3:18PM
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I put them in an inch of water but the soil became very wet...?

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 7:47AM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

It should. But it shouldn't stay wet. Use fan to move the air and help that water evaporate.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 5:43PM
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Done this twice and both times it stayed wet for 2/3 days. Or at least the soil stayed dark and felt wet(ish) when I touched the top.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 7:16AM
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Hi Seedo13 I would as a new grower nix the peat pots. And if you soaked them in an inch of water they probably took in the whole inch of water and on top of that if you are using a peat based soil it's holding a lot of water so that's what is killing your seedlings. I would get plastic starting pots and go from there. Peat pots soak and dry quickly so hard to gage the right time to water.


    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 8:55AM
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Thanks for your reply Mark.

I probably should have said before, with my new batch I binned the peat pots and have put them in plastic pots. Lots of little seedlings have appeared, just time to see now if they can last another week or two!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 5:26AM
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I've made a new batch and made some deliberate changes this time. Seems to have worked much better. Is it time to put these into larger pots do you think?

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 3:17AM
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Here's a close up off the fastest grower

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 3:18AM
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It's really up to you, but, personally, I'd wait to transplant until they've got a few sets of true leaves. With all those little compartments, you don't have to worry about roots getting tangled between plants.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 11:27AM
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Thanks for the reply. Do you know whether I should start giving the plants fertilizer yet? I am currently just watering the plants (by putting the pots in water).

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 6:44AM
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I don't think it's necessary yet. They can go quite a while without feeding, and I'd bet there is some amount of nutrients in your potting mix. If you really want to feed, start with a very light dose maybe 1/4 strength.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 10:03AM
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I'm an amateur gardener and I've just bought some little elf seeds which I'm hoping to sow perhaps in a couple of days. This thread has been really helpful and I'll be keeping an eye out for your updates to see how you get along with your elves :)

    Bookmark   May 16, 2013 at 3:55PM
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Sorry to ask more questions, but my plants are getting bigger now. Should I still wait to water them until they are very dry? Also, is it ok to continue watering them from the bottom? I am concerned I may use too much or not enough if i water from the top

    Bookmark   May 26, 2013 at 5:56PM
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Since I started my new batch, they have done fantastically. I now have 14 chilli plants, all with plenty of yellow chillis on. Just wondering, should these turn red/purple? They are all white/yellowish at the moment..

    Bookmark   August 7, 2013 at 3:52PM
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