Below is a list of some intriguing Jalapeño varieties that you might want to add to your garden:
This is a personal favorite. Purple Jalapeños grow on a beautiful plant that can produce almost black leaves (in full sun) and purple flowers. The chiles start off green, then turn purple and end up red. You can eat them at any color stage, but watch out, this pepper is twice as hot as a regular Jalapeño!
Mucho Nacho Jalapeño
The Mucho Nacho Jalapeño is a larger variety of this pepper as it grow up to 4 inches long. You’ll find these chiles to be longer and wider than standard Jalapeños, which makes them ideal for stuffing. These peppers start off green and then turn red. I’ve found both colors to be extremely hot — this is the Jalapeño pepper you want if you love heat.
Billy Biker Jalapeño
Another hot one, the Billy Biker Jalapeño backs up high heat with incredible Jalapeño flavor. You can expect these chillies to grow up to 3 1/2 inches long, and they are extremely prolific. Enjoy these peppers in both the green and red stage.
The TAM Jalapeño is the pepper you want if you just want the delicious Jalapeño flavor without the heat. You can expect a mild taste that ranges from 1,000 to 3,500 SHU (Scoville Heat Units). Eat them in the green or red stage when they are 3 inches to 4 inches long.
Yes, these Jalapeño peppers come in black! The Black Jalapeño is another eye-catching variety that starts off green, changes to black and ultimately turns red at the end of its growth cycle. These peppers have a high heat, grow up to 3 1/2 inches long and are very prolific.
The Jalaro Jalapeño just explodes with so much color that you can grow it for the chiles or use it as an ornamental feature. This mild Jalapeño variety begins as a golden yellow, changes to orange and then ends up red. Even more, this variety is resistant to six viruses that commonly affect pepper plants.
NuMex Pinata Jalapeño
If you love color, and I mean LOVE it, add the NuMex Pinata Jalapeño to your pepper garden! Developed by New Mexico State University (NMSU), these chiles change from green, to bright yellow, to orange and ultimately red. The NuMex Pinata has the average size and heat of a Jalapeño and makes a colorful salsa.
If you’re in an area that has a shorter growing season, add the Early Jalapeño to your grow list. This Jalapeño grows to approximately 3 1/2 inches long and has a delicious, hot flavor that ranges anywhere between 4,000 to 6,000 SHU (Scoville Heat Units). These peppers mature in approximately 60 days.
When you eat your Jalapenos depends on your preference. I’ve noticed that green Jalapenos tend to be hotter in the green stage, and the mature red peppers have a sweetness to them. Some of these varieties display stretch marks, or corking, which lets you know they’re ready. Be sure to experiment with color and size to see what tastes the best to you.
Peppers are perennial and they just and need to stay away from severe cold (50 degrees Fahrenheit and below), frost and snow to survive each year. Oftentimes, pepper plants produce larger chillies in greater quantities when they are allowed to mature. With care, you may get your plants to live 10 years or longer! A common solution is to get your plants into pots, and then use a few key techniques to protect chillies — especially if you’re in a colder climate.
Prune Your Peppers
Pruning helps your plants stay alive and go into hibernation so that they can store energy for the next growing season. Get out a pair of clean pruning shears and cut off any lingering peppers. If they’re still green, you can leave them on the counter for a couple days to ripen up, or try eating them in the immature stage — you might like the flavor. Cut all the leaves off as well as any brown limbs that are dead. You want to leave the chili plant bare so that it just has its original “Y” shape. These plants are in the process of being pruned for the winter:
If your plants try to produce buds after pruning, pinch them back.
Replenish the Potting Mix
Keeping your pepper plants alive for more than one year means replenishing the potting mix. A new mix delivers fresh nutrients and removes any bad insects that might be present. You have a couple of options here: A) Swap out the old potting mix for a new mix, or B) Use the same mix and add fresh compost, potting mix or soil conditioner. The method you use depends on how many pepper plants you have. If you have a lot of plants, buying new mix can be costly! Here’s what you’ll do for each option:
Swap Out Old Mix
- Dig out your chili plant and put it in a safe spot. I usually leave mine propped up against a wall or laying on the ground if it isn’t in danger of being trampled on.
- Trim the root ball and dispose of the old mix.
- Fill the container with new mix. * Note: if you’re worried about any diseases that might be present, carefully pour some boiling water in your pot to sterilize it first.
- Position your plant in the pot and water the soil well.
Add Fresh Compost or Soil Conditioner
- Repeat Step #1 above.
- Pour the old mix in in a clean container.
- Add compost and blend it in with the old mix. If you don’t have compost, you can add new potting mix. I usually use a ratio of 75% old mix to 25% compost or new mix. If using soil conditioner, such as Happy Frog, follow the instructions on the bag.
- Place your replenished mix and plant back in the pot.
Get Rid of Bugs
Ideally, you want your pepper plants indoors during colder weather. Before you do this, make sure any bugs are gone so you don’t end up with an indoor infestation. First, spray the whole plant, including the top layer of mix, with an organic insecticidal soap until it’s drenched. Wait about 5 minutes, and then spray water over the plants to wash the soap away. Leave your plants outside for a day, and if you don’t see any bug activity, you can bring them inside.
Tips on Moving Peppers Indoors and Lighting
A desirable indoor temperature for hibernating peppers is between 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and never below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Look for available spots in a covered garage, basement or spare room.
My pepper plants increase each year and I don’t always have an indoor space for them. What I do is put them under a covered patio to give them shelter, cover them with a frost blanket or floating row cover at night to bring up the temperature and then remove the blanket in the morning.
As far as lighting, your plants can survive if they’re situated next to a bright window. Otherwise, add some fluorescent bulbs or grow lights a couple of inches above the pepper plants to keep them going.
So that’s about it! Continue to watch for insects, water your chili plants when the soil gets dry (my plants like a once a month watering when they’re being overwintered) and put them back outside when the temperatures consistently stay above 50 degrees Fahrenheit and the threat of frost has passed.
Soften the Seed Shell
One of the best things you can do for your seeds is to soak them before planting. This weakens the shell barrier so the seedlings don’t have to work so hard to come up. If you use a weak chamomile tea solution for the soaking, you also kill off any bacteria that may be present.
Make the Weak Tea Solution:
Brew a cup of chamomile and drink it. Use the same tea bag to make another cup of tea, and then use that batch to soak your seeds. Let your seeds soak for 24 to 48 hours before planting.
Use the Bag Method
You can create an effective germination environment for your chili seeds simply by using a paper towel, ziplock bag or coffee filter and water. This bag method is ideal for difficult varieties that have problems sprouting using the traditional seed-starting mix. Some peppers also germinate faster in the bag. Here’s how you do it:
- Fold a paper towel or coffee filter in quarters and then spray it with water until is damp.
- Place your pepper seeds in between the fold.
- Position your towel and chili seeds in the ziplock bag. Seal it up.
- Spray your towel and seeds each day with water to keep it damp.
- Check for sprouting seeds. When they germinate, bury them under a light layer of sterile potting soil.
If you use a paper towel, cut the portion of the towel that has the germinated seedling because if you pull the seedling, you can tear the root. You shouldn’t have to do this with the coffee filter.
Use the Cup Method
A lidded, 2.5 ounce gelatin cup creates another ideal setting for pepper germination. You can get these cups at a party supply or grocery store. Dampen a small piece of paper towel and stick it at the bottom of the cup. Place your seeds on top of the towel and put the lid on. Leave the cup on a warm spot and dampen the towel each day to keep the environment moist.
Try the Freezer Method
One of our fans on the Grow Hot Peppers Facebook page was kind of enough to share a technique that he uses with great success. We haven’t tried this ourselves, but we encourage you to test it out and let us know if works for you. Here goes:
- Place your pepper seeds in the freezer for two days. Yep, we said freezer.
- Remove the seeds and position them in a folded-up paper towel. Dampen the towel with water.
- Place the towel on a plate and cover it with a dark bowl. Situate it on top of a warm spot. Ideally, you want the temperature to be between 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Check your seeds each day and dampen the towel when needed.
We hope these pepper germination techniques help you raise all the chile varieties you want.
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
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
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.
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 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.
Stuff You’ll Need
You will need 4 tomatoes, 1/4 of an onion, 1 garlic clove, 2 jalapenos, the seeds and veins from the jalapeno rellenos(the ones I said not to throw away), some olive oil and one 8oz. can of tomato sauce.
Cut the tomatoes, onion and jalapenos into small chunks. You don’t have to chop them finely since you will be blending everything in the end. Everything just needs to fit nicely in the pan.
In a pan, drizzle a bit of olive oil thinly coating the bottom of the pan and start heating on medium. Add the tomatoes, onion, jalapenos, garlic clove and seeds/veins from the jalapeno pepper rellenos. Let everything heat and when the onion is caramelized and the tomatoes and jalapenos are soft, add the tomato sauce. The whole can. Continue heating until it comes to a boil and all the vegetables are soft. Reduce heat and add salt to taste.
Pour everything in a blender and blend. The tomato jalapeno sauce is done.
If you’ve cooked the rellenos. Just spoon a bit of the tomato jalapeno sauce over the rellenos, add a bit of shredded cheese on top and enjoy. Don’t forget to remove the toothpicks!
Jalapeno Sauce In Action
If you have not made the jalepeno pepper rellenos, then you can read how to make them here. You can also use the tomato jalapeno sauce on top of scrambled eggs or huevos rancheros. In my opinion it tastes better warm, but you decide.