Before we start with How to grow our Chilli plants, perhaps we should first know a little about how they grow!


Plant Structure


The Chilli plant’s body is divided into two main parts:


  1. Roots: They are the structures that anchor the plant to the ground whilst also absorbing water and minerals from the surrounding environment.
  2. Shoots: These are the aboveground plant structures which includes the stem, which is the framework for the leaves, flowers, and fruits.


Chilli Pepper Botanical Illustration by Rob Snow




Roots are the portions of the plant body that descends below ground. Roots are what anchor the plant and are responsible for the intake of water, minerals, and other important materials. Root systems come in two forms: taproot systems and fibrous root systems.


  1. The Chilli plant would be recognised as having a Taproot systems:
  2. This is composed of a large central root, or primary root, off of which smaller roots (secondary & tertiary) and root hairs grow, taproot systems have a relatively small surface area and so are not as effective at absorbing water and nutrients from the soil. However, the large taproot can store nutrients and water, which is an advantage to growing in regions with minimal water.




Features of a Chilli Plant Root System


 The features of a root system are summarized in the table below.


Primary root

The central root of the plant which extends into   the ground from the plant’s stem.


Lateral roots

Roots growing directly off of the primary root.   Also named Secondary and tertiary roots


Apical root meristem

The zone of cell growth at the tip of the primary   root. The apical meristem produces new cells which are required for the   additional growth of the plant body.


Root hairs

Hairs that extend from the roots and greatly   increase the surface area that helps to increase the absorption of water and   nutrients.


Root cap

Structure at the far end of the apical meristem   that provides protection to the root as the apical meristem pushes through   the soil. Cells at the root cap are continually damaged or lost and are replenished   as the plant grows.


Vascular tissue

Cells which are arranged within the roots to form   tubes through which water, nutrients & minerals can flow through the   plants body. Xylem is the   manner in whichthe water and minerals are conveyed up from the   roots.



The Stem


 The stem acts as the structural support for the chilli plant and provides the main framework for leaves, flowers, and fruits. These features of the plant stem are summarized in the table below.


Vascular tissue

Cells arranged to form tubes through which water,   minerals, and the products of photosynthesis (sugars) can flow through the   plant. Phloem conveys the products of photosynthesis down from the   leaves and through the stem.


Nodes / Internodes

Nodes are the points   at which the leaves are connected to the stem; Internodes are   stretches or distances of stem between the nodes.


Terminal buds

The undeveloped shoot at the tip of the stem.   Terminal buds can remain dormant or grow into a shoot at a later time   depending upon favourable conditions.


Axillary buds

Undeveloped shoot located where a petiole,   or leaf stalk, meets the stem. These buds usually remain dormant but can grow   into a side stem. Apical dominance refers to a process in which growth   of the main stem is primary, and growth of side stems is inhibited.


Apical shoot meristem

The zone of cell growth at the tip of the stem.   The apical meristem is where new cells are produced when of the body of the plant   requires growth.



The Structure of Leaves


 Leaves extend from a plant’s apical shoot meristem, the leaves of various chilli plants can take on a variety of forms, sizes, and arrangements and can vary greatly within their internal structure. All leaves serve the primary function as the principal sites of photosynthetic reactions. However, this variation from plant to plant is largely responsible for the enormous diversity and adaptability of the chilli plant species.


In spite of their variety, the leaves of the chilli plant share the basic features summarized in the table on the following page.



The primary sites of photosynthesis are the leaves   which are made up of a flat blade and a petiole, which joins the stem to the leaf.



Waxy coating on the chilli plant structure that   helps to prevent loss of water to the air. Cuticles also protect the plant   from damage and contaminants, such as bacteria, viruses, and dust.



Tiny pores on the leaf surface which allow   substances such as water, oxygen, and carbon dioxide to pass through as they   either enter or leave the plant.



The Chilli Plant’s Structure and Growth


Plant Tissue


Chilli Plants are composed of a combination of four main tissue types, each one made up of different types of cells:

  • Epidermal tissue
  • Vascular tissue
  • Ground tissue
  • Meristem tissue

Epidermal Tissue

Constitute the outer skin layer of the plant which is made up of flattened epidermal cells. These cells are often covered by a waxy coating known as the cuticle, helping to prevent water loss from the plant. In addition to the cuticle there are guard cells, which are paired and have an opening between them, called the stomata. It is the stomata that allow water, oxygen, and carbon dioxide which is essential to the chilli plant to pass through the epidermal tissue and either enter or leave the plant.


Vascular Tissue


Allows for the transport of water and minerals, as well as sugars, the products of photosynthesis, throughout the chilli plant body. There are the two types of plant vascular tissue, “Xylem” and “Phloem “, they work together to circulate all the necessary ingredients and products of photosynthesis and respiration to the cells, as well as transport waste to be disposed.


Water and other necessary materials are moved up from the plant’s root system via the xylem. This movement is achieved through the physical process known as the” transpiration- cohesion-tension mechanism”. Water molecules in the xylem cells come together by forming hydrogen bonds in a process known as cohesion. These water molecules are drawn to the walls of the xylem cells by a force known as adhesion. Together these two forces create a column of water that is pulled up the xylem, along with minerals and other materials. The water then evaporates as water vapour through stomata in the leaves in a process known as transpiration.It is the evaporation of water vapour through transpiration that creates the negative pressure that allows the water column to be continually drawn up through the plant.


Phloem is sieve-like tissue located toward the outer portion of a plant’s roots and stems. It transports sugars produced during photosynthesis (a plant’s main food source), hormones, and other materials from a plant’s leaves to the rest of the plant body.

Features of Xylem and Phloem

 The features of xylem cells and phloem cells are summarized in the table below.

Xylem cells

Xylem cells are made up of vessel elements, which are short and square in shape. The vessel elements line up to create a channel for water to flow through.

Phloem cells

Phloem cells are made up of sieve-tube members that are arranged end to end and are separated by a sieve plate, through which sugars and other compounds move as they travel through the plant body. Companion cells grow adjacent to sieve-tube members and carry out certain metabolic functions for the cell.

Ground Tissue" > Within the space between the epidermal tissue and the vascular tissuethereexiststhe Ground tissue, which stores food and water and carries out the functions of photosynthesis.

Ground tissue is made up of three types of cells, described in the table below:

Parenchyma cells

The cortex of stems and roots, the body of fruits, and the areas of leaves that carry out photosynthesis are all made up of parenchyma cells. They are alive in the mature plant, which means that they continue to divide throughout the plant’s lifetime, making them central to cell regeneration and wound healing.

Collenchyma cells

Collenchyma cells have single, thick outer cell walls. They elongate to provide support during plant growth.

Sclerenchyma cells

Sclerenchyma cells have two tough outer cell walls. They are incapable of elongation and therefore exist only in tissue where growth has stopped. These cells are usually dead in mature plants. Sclerenchyma cells function as support cells, providing structure and strength to the plant body.

Meristem Tissue

Are groups which are comprised of undifferentiated cells. Its only function is the creation of new cells that will eventually differentiate into the other three tissue types, similar to stem cells in animals.

Plant Structure and Growth

Plant Growth

Meristem tissue is the ultimate source for new plant cells. New cells are created in meristem tissue via mitosis before differentiating and growing into the three other common tissue types. This growth can occur in one of two methods, the primary growth and the secondary growth.

Primary Growth

Primary growth occurs as cells in the apical meristem, the tissue located at the tips of roots and shoots, divide. The tip of each plant root ends in a cone-shaped structure called a root cap, which covers and protects the cells that compose the apical meristem. Cells of the root cap are scraped away as the root pushes through the ground, and the apical meristem produces new cells that replace these lost ones. At the tip of each plant shoot, new cells emerge from the apical meristem and are differentiated into ground tissue, dermal tissue, or vascular tissue. As these new cells differentiate, they undergo significant elongation, pushing the apical meristem upward and contributing significantly to the vertical growth typically associated with the chilli plant.

Secondary Growth

Chilli Plants also undergo a secondary growth, during which the plant expands in girth or bulk, while primary growth is still continuing. Secondary growth takes place among the cells that have differentiated into epidermal, vascular, and ground tissue.

Secondary growth occurs in two different types of meristem tissue: vascular cambium and cork cambium.

Vascular Cambium

Vascular cambium is meristem tissue resulting from the initial differentiation of cells produced by the apical meristem. Vascular cambium, in turn, produces new tissues called secondary xylem and secondary phloem. Secondary phloem forms from the vascular cambium cells that divide outwardly. Secondary xylem forms from the vascular cambium cells that divide inwardly. Secondary xylem is the wood portion of a plant.

Cork Cambium

Cork cambium is formed from the parenchyma cells of the plant cortex. The cork cambium is made up of plates of dividing cells that produce two layers of cells: an inward layer of parenchyma cells and an outward layer of dead cork cells. The cork cambium, cork layer, and parenchyma cells collectively form the plant’s outer protective coating and are known as the periderm. 


Primary and Secondary Plant Growth



The Chilli Plant is an Angiosperm, or the flowering plants that make up the largest and most diverse phyla in the plant kingdom, one of the two main classes: monocots and dicots. Of which they consist of the later.

Dicots are dicotyledons, meaning they have two cotyledons.

Dicot leaves have reticulate, or netted, veins.

Dicot flower parts are typically divided into four or five.

Vascular tissue of the stem is arranged in rings.

Dicots usually have taproot root systems.



Chilli Plants are Perennials, a group that includes most vascular plants such as trees and shrubs, continue to grow over the course of many years. In most perennial plants, flowering and seed production occurs continually for an indefinite number of seasons. 


Plant Hormones and Rhythms

Plant hormones are chemical messengers released in one part of the plant that cause a change in another part. The following table identifies the major plant hormones and their function.



Roots, shoots, and young leaves

Promote stem elongation and are involved in overall growth and the dropping, or abscission, of leaves, and in the differentiation of vascular tissue cells (xylem and phloem) 


Apical meristem, seeds, and young leaves 

Promote stem elongation and the germination of seeds and are involved in the growth of fruit 



Stimulate cell division in plant growth and are involved in the differentiation of plant cells into tissues


Most plant tissues

Slows the lateral growth of buds, promotes leaf abscission, and induces fruit ripening

Abscisic acid

Leaves, roots, and fruit

Regulates leaf openings, or stomata, in times of drought; balances growth hormones; involved in seed dormancy


Ethylene, aided by other hormones, begins the process of fruit ripening by breaking down the fruit’s cell walls. This softens the fruit; initiates the recycling of chlorophyll and the production of other pigments, which give the fruit its ripe colouring; and breaks down complex sugars into simple sugars, which make fruit taste sweet. In addition to these changes, chemical compound by products are produced, which make the fruit smell and taste good. All of these changes result in a fruit enticing to animals, which in turn eat the fruit and spread the seeds.

 Because the plant hormone ethylene is a gas, it can spread from one individual to influence the ripening of others in close proximity. If a bag of chillies contains one very ripe chilli, the ethylene produced by the ripe chilli will spread to the others, causing them to ripen more quickly. The same effect would hold if a ripe banana was placed in a bag full of chillies, for example.


Chilli Plants respond to external signals through the mechanism of tropism, the turning or bending movement toward or away from an external stimulus, such as light, heat, gravity, or touch. There are three main plant tropisms, each of which are facilitated by the production of specific hormones:

  1. Phototropism: Plants grow, or bend, toward light. A type of auxin, a plant hormone called IAA (indole-3-acetic acid), is involved in phototropism.
  2. Gravitropism: The shoots or roots of a plant bend in response to the pull of gravity. IAA is also involved in gravitropism.
  3. Thigmotropism: Plants grow in response to touch, as when a vine grows up a fence or wall. Thigmotropism is controlled by the production of IAA and ethylene.

Internal Clocks of Plants

Plants operate on both twenty-four-hour cycles called circadian rhythms, which continue even in the absence of environmental cues to guide them, and biological clocks, internal monitors that depend on the environmental cues of daytime and night time. Biological clocks are thought to influence major events in a plant’s life cycle, such as flowering, growth of stems, loss of leaves, and seed germination.

Plants use the photoperiod, the duration of the day and night, to detect the season. The flowering in angiosperms provides a clear example of a plant’s reliance on the photoperiod. Biologists divide angiosperms into three categories based on when they flower:

  1. Short-day plants, flower in the late summer, fall, or winter, when the duration of daylight is shorter.
  2. Long-day plants, flower in the summer or early spring, when the duration of daylight is longer.
  3. Day-neutral plants, such as chillies, flower regardless of day length, provided there is sufficient light for normal growth.  


Biologists believe that a class of photoreceptor pigments, known as phytochromes, are responsible for detecting daylight and setting the biological clocks of plants. Phytochromes take on two forms: one that stimulates the occurrence of a set biological response and another that inhibits that response. The levels of each pigment form fluctuate as the length of daylight changes over the course of the year. These fluctuations result in different responses, such as flowering, for individual plants throughout the year. Photoreception is a vital mechanism by which a plant can interact with its environment, performing certain time-sensitive functions when environmental conditions are suitable, animals and insects that act as pollinators are available, and competition with other plants for resources is minimal.

Structures and Functions

The seed, which develops from an ovule after fertilization has occurred, surrounds the plant embryo and protects it from desiccation. Each seed consists of an embryo, food source, and protective outer coat, and can lie dormant for some time before germinating. The roots of a plant function in the storage of nutrients, the acquisition of water and minerals (from the soil), and the anchoring of the plant to the substrate. Tiny root hairs, which extend from the root surface, provide the plant with a huge total absorptive surface and are responsible for most of the plant's water and mineral intake. Plant stems (or trunks, as they are called in trees) function primarily in nutrient transport and physical support. The leaves contain chlorophyll and are the major sites of photosynthesis and gas exchange. Flowers contain the reproductive organs of angiosperms.


Essential Processes

Plants carry out a number of processes that are essential to their survival. Internal water and sugar transport are largely carried out within the vascular system, ensuring that the entire plant receives water and food even though these materials are brought in or produced only in certain parts of the plant. Plant hormones determine the timing and occurrence of many of the processes of the plant, from germination to tissue growth to reproduction. Plants can also respond to light, touch, and gravity in various ways.  

Life Cycle

The life cycle of plants depends upon the alternation of generations, the fluctuation between the diploid (sporophyte) and haploid (gametophyte) life stages. In sexual reproduction, fertilization occurs when a male gamete (sperm cell) joins with an egg cell to produce a zygote. In angiosperms (flowering plants), the embryo is given added protection by an ovary, which develops into a fruit.


 Alternation of Generations - The fluctuation between the diploid (sporophyte) and haploid (gametophyte) life stages that occurs in plants.

 Angiosperm - A vascular flowering plant in which seeds are enclosed inside of protective ovaries.

 Chlorophyll - A green pigment, necessary for photosynthesis that is found in the chloroplasts of plants.

 Dicot - A flowering plant (angiosperm) that possesses two cotyledons during embryonic development.

 Diploid - Having two sets of chromosomes, one from each parent.

 Gamete - A haploid sex cell (either an egg or sperm cell); male and female gametes join during fertilization to create a diploid zygote.

 Gametophyte - A haploid plant or plant structure that produces haploid gametes through mitosis.

 Grafting - An artificial form of vegetative propagation in which parts of two young plants are joined together, first by artificial means and then by tissue regeneration.   

Haploid - Having only one set of chromosomes.

 Hormone  -  A chemical that affects the ways in which an organism functions; it is produced in one part of the plant body but, by traveling to target cells throughout the body, affects many other parts as well.

 Jacket Cell - A component of the cell layer that covers the reproductive organs of plants and prevents them from drying out.

 Ovary - In plants, the protective structure that holds the ovules and surrounds the angiosperm seed; after fertilization, develops into a fruit.

 Ovule - Structure that contains the female gametophyte and gametes; after fertilization, develops into a seed.

 Phloem - Vascular tissue composed of cells that are living at maturity; transports the products of photosynthesis throughout the plant body.

 Photosynthesis - The process by which plants and other autotrophic organisms convert light energy into organic materials.

 Pollen Grain - The male gametophyte of gymnosperms and angiosperms.

 Root - The part of a plant beneath the soil; responsible for collecting water and minerals from the soil, storing nutrients, and securing the plant to the ground.

 Root Hair - An outgrowth of a plant root that provides an increased surface area for the absorption of water and dissolved minerals from the soil.

Shoot - The part of the plant above the soil, including all aerial structures such as stems, leaves, flowers, and fruits; gathers carbon dioxide and light energy for photosynthesis, provides surfaces for gas exchange, and contains the plant's reproductive organs.

 Sporophyte - A diploid plant or plant structure that produces haploid spores through meiosis.

 Stoma  -  A very small epidermal pore, surrounded by two guard cells, through which gases diffuse in and out of a leaf.

Vascular System - Mechanism of internal water and nutrient transport, made up of the vascular tissues xylem and phloem, that is characteristic of tracheophytes.

 Vascular Tissue - A conductive component (either xylem or phloem) of the system that transports food and nutrients throughout the plant body.

Xylem - Vascular tissue composed of cells that are dead at maturity; transports water and dissolved minerals upwards from the roots to the shoot.


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