Start Your Hot Peppers from Seed
Water, Weed, and Feed
Pick Your Peppers
How Hot Is "Hot"?
Hot peppers are some of the most colorful vegetables in the garden - and on the dinner table - with shades of yellow, orange, red, purple, green, and ivory. With heat from hot to very hot, they add flavor and zest to salsas, salads, soups, and many other recipes. Here's how to grow them at home.
Pepper seeds need very warm soil to germinate, so in all but the hottest climates start them in a warm location indoors 40-60 days before transplanting time. Transplant seedlings to the garden about 2 weeks after the last frost date. Plant in well-drained soil amended with compost or other organic matter. To prevent transplant shock, use a starting solution such as Miracle-Gro® Liquid Quick Start®.
For strong plants and a good crop of peppers, keep the garden weed-free and water to keep the soil thoroughly moist. Feed with MiracleGro® Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food twice a month while plants are flowering. If the plants get tall and start to droop, use stakes or tomato cages to prop them up.
Harvest hot peppers anytime for fresh use, but leave them on the plant until fully ripe if you want to dry them. Cut them off with scissors or pruning shears to avoid tearing the stems. You might want to wear gloves when harvesting or handling hot peppers (especially really hot ones like habaneros) to avoid getting their heat-bearing chemical, capsaicin, on your skin.
The heat in hot peppers is ranked on the Scoville scale, which measures the amount of capsaicin in them. They range from hot cherry peppers (100-500 Scoville units) to jalapenos (2,500-8,000) to habaneros (100,000-580,000).
Pick your peppers often so your plants will continue to produce new fruit.