You have a lot of options when it comes to how and when you fertilize (feed) your chili peppers. As you become an experienced grower, you’ll develop your own preferences based on your climate, soil conditions and pepper growing environment (for example, in a pot or in the ground). If you’re new to chillies and even if you’ve already grown a few plants, this can all be very confusing. Below is an example feeding schedule for those who start pepper seedlings in containers. Test this out and make adjustments (if needed) throughout your growing season.

Why We Fertilize Peppers

Your pepper seeds have just enough energy to support the cotyledons, which are the embryonic leaves that first appear. After that, pepper plants need help to build a strong structure and eventually grow fruit. When fed well, peppers display green leaves (unless they are a variety like Black Pearl), thick stems, lots of flowers and vibrant pods.

How to Start Fertilizing

After the first set of true leaves appear, you can start using a diluted amount of fish emulsion or fish and seaweed fertilizer to help along seedling growth. Read the instructions on the container and then use 1/4 strength when you water your plants. For example, if a full serving is 1 tablespoon per gallon of water, add 1/4 teaspoon to a quart of water. Repeat this feeding schedule every other week.


JH Biotech 9907 Aqua Power Fish Emulsion
JH Biotech 9907 Aqua Power Fish Emulsion

Foliar Feeding

After your plants have three or four sets of true leaves, you can apply magnesium sulfate (epsom salt) directly to the leaves and stem. Epsom salt keeps the plant foliage strong, and prevents light green to yellow leaves from developing. Make sure that the epsom salt you use does not have any additions such as scents or bath crystals.

Add a 1 teaspoon epsom salt to a gallon of water and shake it up well. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and then spritz the leaves and stems with the solution until thoroughly covered. Spray your plants every other week so that one week you water with fish emulsion, and the other week you give your plants the foliar feeding.



Feeding Outdoor Peppers

Continue with the fish emulsion / fish and seaweed fertilizer schedule, but this time increase the dosage to about half the amount described on the label. If your peppers are in the ground, you can use the full amount. Keep the foliar feeding with epsom salts the same.

Your outside chillies will also benefit from some additional nutrients to help them flower, fruit and maintain their health.

Add Compost to Pepper Plants

Not only does compost condition the soil, but it fertilizes your chillies and acts as a natural pesticide to insects. After your peppers are planted in containers, use a good-quality, organic compost and layer it on the top of the soil. You also have the option to mix the compost in with your potting mixture. If you’re planting chillies in the ground, drop a handful of compost in each planting hole before you place the pepper plant in it.




Intervale Organic Compost, 20 Qts.

Calcium and Phosphorous Requirements

As an added bonus, many growers use a calcium and phosphorous source such as Cal-Mag or bonemeal. These nutrients help build a stronger plant structure, keeps your chillies flowering and fruiting and prevent blossom-end rot (BER). If your chile plant ever displays crinkled or bubbly leaves (particularly Capsicum chinense varieties), or if the ends of pepper pods have dark, sunken lesions, you know your plant needs calcium and phosphorous.

Apply the Cal-Mag or bonemeal package by following the instructions on the label. Typically, you mix a designated amount of powder into the top layer of soil and then water your plant. A monthly feeding of calcium and phosphorous is usually sufficient for peppers.



Water Your Peppers with Compost Tea

You can give your chili plants a huge advantage by watering them with compost tea. This tea is a concentrated liquid of compost that has beneficial microbes that benefit both the plant and soil.

Follow the instructions on your compost tea container to “brew” up a batch of liquid. Pour the tea in a sprayer and drench the stems as well as both the tops and undersides of leaves so that the excess drips onto the soil. Do this once or twice a month to fight off foliar disease and promote growth. Make sure to use the tea within four hours (or whatever time frame is specified on the label) so that it’s most effective.


FloraBlend Vegan Compost Tea Gallon: J
FloraBlend Vegan Compost Tea Gallon: J

What to Watch For

It’s very easy to give your chillies too much fertilizer. This is very harmful to your plant and it can even cause its death. Never give them more than what is instructed on the label.

After a feeding, especially if you are doing it for the first time, inspect the leaves for browning edges. This occurrence is known as “fertilizer burn,” and it lets you know you should cut down on the feeding. If your pots are outdoors in containers and you detect fertilizer burn, run water over the soil to help flush the excess nutrients out.

Did you enjoy this article? If so, check out the "Grow Your Own Jalapenos and Super Hot Peppers in Containers" e-book for detailed, step-by-step instructions that explain how to grow all of your favorite chillies from beginning to end.



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Grow Ghost Pepper Plants





Between 2006 to 2010, the ghost pepper was given the world’s hottest pepper title by Guinness World Records. This distinct chile is also known as “Bhut Jolokia” and “Naga Morich,” which all refer to the pepper that is over 1 million Scoville units hot and three times hotter than the habanero. If you’ve ever enjoyed the delicious pain of the ghost chili, you have the option to grow it indoors or in your garden. The bhut jolokia, being one of the hottest peppers on the planet, is really hard to find in grocery stores. Understand how to grow this hot pepper so you can really add some heat to food.

First, select a well draining seed-starting soil mix to sow the naga seeds under a shallow layer of dirt. The key here is to keep the soil warmed between 75 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a heating mat to consistently keep this rating. Ghost chilies typically become seedlings in 30 days.

Next, water your soil so that it is constantly damp, but not drenched. These peppers are sensitive to too much hydration just like other hot peppers, so use a moisture meter to check the level, or use a bottom-watering technique for a safer way to water your peppers.

Keep your young peppers underneath an indoor growing light at least 10 hours a day and make sure the lamp is no more than 4 inches away from the top of the plants.

Once your ghost peppers have at least four leaves, transfer them to a larger pot. Watch the growth of your chillie seedlings and continue to move them to bigger containers when needed. Bhut jolokia are generally transferred two or three times before they go outside.

Fully ripe ghost chillies usually develop in 160 days. You can expect orange to red peppers that are 1 inch to 2 inches wide and 2 inches to 3 inches high. The pepper plants themselves grow up to 4 feet high and do well when they are at least 36 inches apart from each other in the ground.

When you touch these dented, cone-shaped peppers, wear gloves to protect yourself from the burn. And when you’re ready to eat them, keep that milk nearby to soothe the heat in your throat. Most of all, get ready to brag to your friends that you grow one of the world’s hottest peppers.

Did you enjoy this article? If so, check out the "Grow Your Own Jalapenos and Super Hot Peppers in Containers" e-book for detailed, step-by-step instructions that explain how to grow all of your favorite chillies from beginning to end.



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Your hot peppers need to have a seed-starting soil mixture that supports their nutrition and hydration needs so that pepper seeds turn into seedlings (germinate)and the seedlings grow into strong and healthy plants. This ideal mixture has a combination of materials, which prevents sogginess from water buildup, yet feeds the budding pepper and maintains an ideal soil pH level of between 6.0 to 6.8. Acquire the best soil possible to grow your own hot chili pepper plants.

 

 

 

What to Look for in Pepper Soil

To start off, pick the right product for your purposes. If you’re just starting your pepper seeds, select a “seed-starting soil mix” that will give your chile seedlings the nutrients they need to turn into little plants. Otherwise, if they have surpassed this stage, choose a “potting soil” that meets the criteria below.

Growing your own hot peppers means that you need to provide a soil or soil-free mixture that has the ingredients that are light and allow for air flow. Ingredients that encourage this flow include vermiculite, perlite, sphagnum peat moss (peat) and sand (builder’s sand). A warning about peat moss: make sure that your soil or soil-free mixture is not composed primarily of peat because this organic material is very acidic and is known to effect the growth rate of peppers.

Your mixture must also meet the nutritional needs of your chile pepper plants. Look for organic ingredients, which include composted pine bark, chicken manure, alfalfa, coir and kenaf. Alternately, non-organic mixtures should contain a commercial fertilizer to feed your chillies.

With a combination of the above ingredients in the mixture that you choose, growing your chile peppers will become much more successful. As a side note: many seed-starting mixes that are labeled for orchids contain many of these essential ingredients and are sufficient for germinating and raising your chillies.


Natural Beginnings<small><sup>TM</small></sup> Seed-Starting Mix
Natural Beginnings Seed-Starting Mix

Pepper Soil No-No’s

Watch for mixtures that have large chunks of materials because these substances will prevent the airflow that is so crucial to pepper plants. Hold the soil in your hand and make sure that it feels light.

Also, if you open your soil bag and find insects do not put your pepper seeds or hot chillie seedlings in this soil. The adult bugs will eat the nutrients and your growing plants before they have time to grow and chances are that these mature bugs had time to lay eggs in the soil, which will become a nightmare to your seedlings once they hatch.

Lastly, don’t use an older mixture (older than a year) because the fertilizer or other nutritional elements may not be as effective in feeding your growing pepper plants. Buy a fresh bag to give your chillies a healthy start.

Growing Hot Peppers with Organic Mixes

Organic seed-starting soil mixes that are organic do not include pesticides, wetting agents or other chemicals that are synthetic. The absence of this non-natural ingredients gives you the ability to grow certified organic peppers and ensure that your hot chillies are as healthy as possible.

Look at the seed-starting or potting mixture bag to ensure that it says “organic” on it because it if doesn’t, then you can safely assume that it is not. If you purchase your soil from a distributor, check if they will prepare an organic mixture for you.

Did you enjoy this article? If so, check out the "Grow Your Own Jalapenos and Super Hot Peppers in Containers" e-book for detailed, step-by-step instructions that explain how to grow all of your favorite chillies from beginning to end.



Grow all of your own Jalapenos, Habaneros, Ghost Chillies and more with this clear, step-by-step ebook!



Not only do your hot pepper plants require light to grow, but using an indoor growing method enables you to protect your peppers against insects and colder weather conditions that can kill your chili seedlings. Many lights are developed specifically for household use and a variety of indoor growing lights are ideal for your hot chile pepper plants. These lamps range in cost, size and light output. Below is a summary of three of the most common plant light categories for growing hot chile peppers indoors.

Regular Fluorescent Lights

Hardware stores and thrift shops are just some of the places where you can obtain regular, white fluorescent lights. Though the lights are not particularly created for indoor plant growing, you can make these work by hanging more than one light over your pepper plants. Make sure that each light adequately covers each seedling and position the light so that it is no more than 4 inches away from the top of the chile plants. Fluorescent growing lights are the most cost effective method of household growing, but they require that you place your pepper seedlings within 2 to 4 inches underneath the light to give them the benefit of the heat. A typical fluorescent normally requires the use of two 40-watt tubes and it is an ideal method for starting your seedlings indoors with the intention of moving them outside when the weather gets warmer.

Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL)

CFL lights are the next step up in fluorescent growing lights because they are still a cost effective light method, but they have the ability to produce a 92 percent natural sunlight spectrum that gets used by your chile peppers. As its name implies, the compact fluorescent light is smaller than a traditional fluorescent, and these lights come in a range of sizes to fit your indoor growing area. For example, the T5 is commonly used by hot pepper growers because it contains multiple thinner bulbs that are positioned in a vertical direction, which effectively cover chile seedlings in most types of growing containers. Other types of popular CFLs include Vita-Lites and Sylvania Gro-Lux. Use these plant lights to grow your seedlings before you put them outside, or continue to use them as you grow your peppers indoors.

High Intensity Discharge (HID)

HID lamps are the most expensive option when it comes to indoor growing because the light discharge has an extremely high intensity and double the efficiency of a fluorescent grow light. As an example, it takes a fluorescent light 800 watts to generate as much output as one 400 watt HID lamp. Two types of HIDs are the High Pressure Sodium (HPS) and Metal Halide (MH). The MH emits a midday sun heat that helps your peppers develop leaves, while the HPS produces an early morning or late afternoon heat, which gives a more yellow to orange to red spectrum and helps with the flowering and fruiting of your hot chile peppers. The HID is an ideal indoor growing lights solution because it supplements a greenhouse or sun room, and provides you with a solution if you do not receive enough natural light in your location to grow hot chili pepper plants.

Did you enjoy this article? If so, check out the "Grow Your Own Jalapenos and Super Hot Peppers in Containers" e-book for detailed, step-by-step instructions that explain how to grow all of your favorite chillies from beginning to end.



Grow all of your own Jalapenos, Habaneros, Ghost Chillies and more with this clear, step-by-step ebook!



After your pepper seeds push through the soil (germinate), your seedlings need a light source that provides the heat they require to keep thriving. Lighting can be a bit tricky because too much light burns the tender seedling foliage and not enough light interferes with the growth. Although special grow lamps can be expensive, you can use a cost-effective fluorescent growing light to give your young peppers the boost they need during this critical growth phase.

Fluorescent Grow Lights

Plant light set up for growing peppersThese 4 foot long lamps are an ideal source of artificial light for your peppers because they provide the right amount of heat and do not cost a lot of money. You can buy these lights, typically called “grow lights” or “plant lamps,” at a nearby hardware store and each lamp usually sells for $12 to $15.

Before you run to the store, check around your house because you might already have what you need. In our situation, we had an old fish tank and I saw that it still had the aquarium light on top. Sure enough, I verified that it had fluorescent grow bulbs. I grabbed the light and we placed it over the pepper seedlings, which responded really well.

Additionally, take a look in your garage or shed for an unused fluorescent shop light because that will work too. Nothing is more cost effective than being free!

Light Positioning

Indoor growing lights are designed to be hung or mounted directly above your plants, which you can safely do because they do not contain the lumens that makes them burn too hot.

The key factor here is making sure that the light is close enough to the pepper seedlings so that they do not become “leggy” and use all of their energy to grow a long stem with hardly any leaves. Most pepper growers place the lamp 2 to 4 inches away from the top of the plant to avoid this problem.

Next, be aware that the plant will bend towards the heat if the growing lights are not directly above them. When we first tried growing peppers, we had a fluorescent grow lamp with a smaller width and it didn’t quite cover all the pepper plants in that row. Not knowing any better at the time, I watched as the plants in the middle grew well, while the ones on the right and left bent at dangerous angles trying to get to the heat. It was so sad! Luckily, we replaced the light in time to save most of them, but one beautiful early jalapeno plant bent so much that it fell over and never recovered. If you need to, buy extra lamps to cover the width and depth of your chili plants.

How Long to Keep Your Plant Lamps On

Leave your fluorescent growing light on for about 12 to 16 hours each day. This time frame gives your chile seedlings the exposure to the heat that they need. You can make this process easier by acquiring a plant timer from a hardware store (about $10) to turn the lamp on and off automatically. And don’t worry, your electric bill shouldn’t suffer because the fluorescent bulbs typically use the same wattage that a regular light bulb does.

Did you enjoy this article? If so, check out the "Grow Your Own Jalapenos and Super Hot Peppers in Containers" e-book for detailed, step-by-step instructions that explain how to grow all of your favorite chillies from beginning to end.



Grow all of your own Jalapenos, Habaneros, Ghost Chillies and more with this clear, step-by-step ebook!



The source of heat in any type of pepper is the “capsaicin.” If you eat habaneros or grow habanero pepper plants, you know that habanero peppers are one of the hottest peppers available and that even touching the skin can cause a burning sensation. Habaneros have a Scoville heat index of 250,000 to 500,000 units, which measures the level of pepper capsaicin in this variety. Compared to the jalapeno that has just 2,500 units, that is really hot! This powerful alkaloid, found only in nature’s peppers, has many beneficial uses.

Habanero Chili Peppers: Capsaicin Nutritional Value

Habanero chili pepperAlthough it may not seem like it at the time of ingestion, the capsaicin component produced by nature does not hurt you permanently. Being a very good source of intense heat, habanero peppers also provide vitamins A, C and E. These rich in folic acid and potassium sources, are low in calories, sodium and do not contain carbohydrates. Even better, this pepper contains a slightly fruity flavor and is known to cause an endorphin rush brought on by the capsaicin heat.

Recent Uses of Capsaicin

Currently, many industrial uses exist for capsaicin. For example, capsaicin is utilized in pepper sprays that are found in many self defense retailers. Further, you can find this ingredient in marine coatings, which prevent barnacle growth through environmentally safe methods.

Capsaicin is also available for uses in the home. Your pest repellent sprays often include capsaicin to get rid of garden intruders such as squirrels. Medically, capsaicin encourages circulation and stimulates pain receptor cells to produce endorphins. Even more, this beneficial property is used in various analgesic solutions that cure arthritis.

Capsaicin Safety

For those that love the heat and want to eat habanero pepper (which I’m guessing you do if you’ve come to growhotpeppers.com), just remember that pure pepper capsaicin causes your eyes and nose to run and your lips to swell. Wear vinyl or latex gloves while handling your habaneros and keep the dish soap and milk close by just in case.

Did you enjoy this article? If so, check out the "Grow Your Own Jalapenos and Super Hot Peppers in Containers" e-book for detailed, step-by-step instructions that explain how to grow all of your favorite chillies from beginning to end.



Grow all of your own Jalapenos, Habaneros, Ghost Chillies and more with this clear, step-by-step ebook!

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