Chillies are self-pollinating, which means the chilli flowers contain both male (stamens) and female (pistil) reproductive organs. The flowers are able to produce the pollen and then use that pollen for fertilisation and the production of a chilli.


Chillies can readily cross-pollinate if the pollen from one variety is spread to the flower of another variety. This cross-pollination occurs mainly through the activity of bees flying from flower to flower spreading the pollen. While the chilli produced from a crossed flower will not be affected, the seeds collected from that chilli will contain a mixture of traits from each of the crossed varieties.

It can be fun to allow some plants to cross-pollinate and see what traits are produced by the next generation of resulting chillies, but if you want to collect the seeds to continue to grow a specific variety, bees need to be kept off the flowers to avoid the likelihood of cross-pollination. It is important to collect seed only from netted fruit, or fruit grown in a greenhouse, if you want seed to grow true-to-type chillies; fruit that has the same traits as the stabilised parent chilli.

If purchasing seed from other growers, always check that the collected seed has been grown under nets or in greenhouses. Some growers selling seeds online are not aware of how readily chillies can cross if these measures are not taken. It can be disappointing when seeds are purchased to grow a particular variety, only to find that the chillies produced have different traits and are not true-to-type.

Deliberate Cross-Pollinating to Create a New Variety

It may be desirable to blend certain traits from one variety with another, however, the stabilisation of a new variety takes time. It takes at least eight generations of growing the crossed chilli (and ensuring that it does not cross again in the process) in order to stabilise the variety. Before this, you might get a mix of shapes and colours in the resulting fruit. Collect seeds for planting only from the fruit with the desired traits. After approximately eight generations, the genes in the chilli should be stable.

Chillies are often deliberately crossed in order to create a new variety. For example, the Carolina Reaper was stabilised after reportedly crossing a Red Habanero from the West Indies with a Naga from Pakistan.

Cross-Pollination Between Species

While chillies within the same species cross easily, they will also cross between species. The only species that will not cross with another is Capsicum Pubescens. Chillies within this species will readily cross with each other but they will not cross with chillies outside of the species.