How to Grow Red-hot Peppers

Peppers are so hot right now. Here are some tips on how to grow and manage these fiery chillies. Can you handle the heat?

Credit: Christina Symons

Protect your nose and eyes when handling these fiery plants

Do you know your habanero from jalapeno? If you’re flirting with growing fiery peppers in your garden, it helps to know just how much heat you can handle

To grow peppers successfully in a moderate or cool climate you will need a long hot summer. You can increase your success by growing peppers against a rock or stone wall, in black pots, in a hothouse or under solar cover.

Plan on buying peppers as seedlings to get a head start. They are moderate feeders and may require staking or caging to stand upright when heavy with fruit.

What Makes Peppers Hot?

All hot or chili peppers contain capsaicin, the natural chemical that causes the sensation of heat on the tongue and in the mouth. Bell peppers don’t contain capsaicin, so grow them if you prefer a mild taste. Least searing of all, the chili peppers, pepperoncini and New Mexican peppers contain just a touch of sizzle.

The more common jalapeno, wax and rocotillo peppers are hotter and good choices for most recipes calling for fresh-cut chilies. But they pale in comparison to red-hot Serrano, cayenne and Thai peppers.

Topping the chili charts are the smallest peppers, including the infamous and colourful habanero peppers. You should only grow, prepare and eat these hot, hot, hot peppers in a very cautious manner.

The seeds and inside white thread-like area of chili peppers are the hottest. You can neutralize some of the capsaicin effect by removing the seeds and threads prior to chopping, cooking and consuming.

Hot Pepper Safety

When handling very hot peppers, use gloves or wash your hands completely as soon as you are done. If you fail to do so and rub your eyes or nose, you will pay dearly for the indiscretion with a nasty burning sensation.

Otherwise, enjoy red-hot peppers in the garden and on the table!

*An excerpt from Sow Simple, 100+ Green and Easy Projects to Make Your Garden Awesome by Christina Symons and John Gillespie.