Ghost Pepper

Capsicum chinense

A wrinkly pepper with record-breaking heat!

Widely cultivated in Northeast India, this incredibly hot pepper is also known as bhüt jolokia, meaning “Bhutanese pepper.” In Assamese, the near-homonym bhut means “ghost,” hence the playful moniker–and at over one million Scoville heat units, your tastebuds might be left feeling ghostly as well! The flavor begins fruity and sweet, building to a slow, long burn. Use caution when handling the seeds and prepping for meals! A favorite of hot sauce enthusiasts, give this pepper plenty of time to grow and mature: promptly sow in time for transplanting when the weather warms.

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Peppers are one of the most challenging of home garden crops, but most of the difficulty is borne during the plants early life. Pepper seed requires heat to germinate; it just won't do much in cool soil. So the first trick is to find a spot that is steadily warm; above the fridge may work, as might a spot near the woodstove. Sow pepper seeds by late March; they mature later in the season than tomatoes, and to get a good crop of ripe peppers requires an early start. (If you prefer green peppers, you've got more flexibility.) Sow peppers about a quarter-inch deep in soil blocks or plug trays. Give them a good ten to fourteen days to germinate before thinking of giving up on them. Once up, peppers grow quite slowly when young and, again, require warmth to grow quickly. In the past we've grown ours in a cold frame; on especially chilly nights we set pots of boiling water in the enclosure and throw a blanket over the whole thing. If you have a heating mat or heating cables, use them to keep the peppers toasty (but be cautious not to dry them out). Peppers should not be transplanted until the weather is settled, usually about two weeks after tomatoes go in. Space them about 18" apart. Row cover provides a warm microclimate for quicker growth. Although most pepper plants stay much smaller than tomato vines, their stems are weak and, when loaded with fruit, they tend to blow over in late summer storms. They can easily be staked to prevent this.

Days to Germination 7 to 35 days
Days to Maturity 150
Planting Depth ½ inch
Spacing in Row 18 inches
Spacing Between Rows 24 inches
Height at Maturity 24 inches
Width at Maturity 18 inches
Sun Preference Full Sun

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