How to Grow Hot Peppers

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Hot Pepper Varieties



I thought hot peppers were rated as hot, hotter, and tears-rolling-down-your-face-smack-your-hands-on-the-table hot. But, I was wrong. There is a Scoville Scale or Scoville Units, created by an American chemist, used to rate hot peppers. Who knew?

Hot Peppers are fun to grow. Sometimes, it becomes more of a game to grow these. They’re easy to grow—that isn’t the game. The game is, can you eat the hot peppers you grow? There are some milder varieties of hot peppers, like poblanos, or can you take the heat of a Cayenne pepper?

There are tons of hot pepper varieties. But, here are some popular hot peppers grown in home vegetable gardens. List starts with the milder hot peppers first.

Here goes:
Robustini, Paprika Supreme, Hungarian Hot Wax, Big Chili, Cherry Bomb, Ancho 101, Jaloro, Serrano, Super Cayenne II, Habanero, Congo Trinidad, Jamaican Hot, Yellow Mushroom, Jamaican Hot Chocolate, Scotch Bonnet, Tabasco, Thai Hot, Chiltepin.

Hot Peppers that grow well in containers are: Tabascos, Thais and Pueblos.

Preferred Growing Conditions

Hot Peppers will grow best in warm climates, with well drained soil high in organic matter. Grow in full sun. Pepper plants, sweet and hot peppers, will need a few hours of late afternoon shade in very hot, intense climates. The shade will prevent sunscald on the peppers. You can, also, plant peppers closer together so their leaves shade the peppers from the sun. That is a little intensive gardening tip!

How to Plant Hot Peppers



Hot pepper plants should be spaced 18-24 inches apart in rows 2 feet apart. It’s easiest to plant hot pepper plants from started plants two weeks after last frost. Remember, pepper plants are very warm season plants. If you want to start from seeds, they need to be started 8-10 weeks prior to transplanting.

Companion Plants for Hot Peppers

Growing these companion plants around hot peppers will be helpful: tomatoes, geraniums, and, petunias.

Some plants actually are bad to the health of hot pepper plants. Avoid these plants around hot peppers: beans, kale, cabbage, and brussels sprouts.

Maintaining Hot Pepper Plants

Water hot pepper plants regularly. Blossom end rot can be caused by inconsistent watering. Mulching around hot pepper plants will help control moisture loss, too.

When to Use Organic Fertilizer

Hot Pepper plants can be fertilized when transplanting, and then again after the first fruit is produced. Be careful not to over fertilize. Over fertilizing hot pepper plants can cause blossom end rot.

Focus on overall plant health and fruit production with any follow fertilizers. Stick with something low in nitrogen. Seaweed or fish emulsion is a great organic fertilizer.

Harvesting Hot Peppers

The most important thing you need to know about harvesting hot peppers: wear gloves, and don’t rub your eyes. It’s easy to be out in the garden and wipe your brow. And, that can ruin a nice day in the garden!

It takes about 60-75 days, after transplanting for hot peppers to be ready for harvest. Once harvested, there is a lot you can do with hot peppers—dry, can, pickle, or even grind into a powder. Check out this pickled hot pepper recipe from University of Minnesota Extension.

Hot Pepper Pests and Diseases

Check your hot pepper plants for aphids, tarnished plant bugs, pepper maggots, and pepper weevils. Aphids will be the most common. Sometimes, a garden hose can knock aphids off the plant, or check into organic pest control options.



Sunscald and blossom end rot are big pepper problems. Watering consistently and mulching hot pepper plants will help prevent blossom end rot. And, tackle sunscald by planting hot pepper plants a little closer together to shade the plants a bit.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

PAIGE ROBBINS August 4, 2009 at 1:22 pm

I HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT HOW LONG ONCE THE FLOWER STARTS TO FORM AND THE TIME THAT THE CAYENNE TURN RED AND READY FOR PICKING. MINE HAVE BEEN GREEN FOR A COUPLE OF WEEKS OR MORE NOW BUT ARE STILL GREEN.

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yaime February 14, 2010 at 12:20 pm

hi I’m growing some hot pepper seedlings but latley I see the pepper leaves quailing/rolling up why is this?

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James May 22, 2012 at 9:26 am

I had the same problem when I moved my hot pepper seedlings outside. I think the transition from indoors to outdoors is something of a shock to them, but I’ve found that it helps if you don’t give them too much direct sunlight – I know it goes against all common pepper knowledge, but in my experience, just a few hours a day is enough until they get bigger. It also seems that a little extra water helps them get through this stage. If the leaves start turning yellow and falling off, you’re watering them too much – but don’t worry, just give them a few days without water and they should recover.

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ghp February 25, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Great article! How does the cherry bomb pepper compare to the jalapeno as far as heat goes? I haven’t grown that chile yet so I was wondering about the heat.

Thanks.

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saucy bill March 4, 2011 at 1:18 pm

yes the scoville scale is important when deciding which peppers to plant, we are HUGE fans of growing our own habanero.

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lars March 4, 2011 at 1:22 pm

@bill

Thanks for the comment. Your site looks good!

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fred libby March 31, 2011 at 5:54 pm

have you ever heard of the Jolokia pepper with 1,000,ooo Scovile units?

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Marianne O'Brien July 23, 2012 at 7:02 pm

how can we get the peppers tobe hotter? I plant Hungarian banana peppers.

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Bonnie May 9, 2015 at 9:24 am

Don’t forget about epsom salt. It seriously works!! I speak from experience. 🙂

http://www.harvesttotable.com/2012/08/epsom-salt-tomato-and-pepper-growing/

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Christy Nelous Charles July 20, 2015 at 12:00 pm

good advice

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