Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Chile Pepper
Capsicum frutescens 'Tabasco'

Family: Solanaceae (so-lan-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Capsicum (KAP-sih-kum) (Info)
Species: frutescens (froo-TESS-enz) (Info)
Cultivar: Tabasco
Additional cultivar information: (aka Tobasco - misspelling)

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5 vendors have this plant for sale.

33 members have or want this plant for trade.

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)
36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Heat (Pungency):
Hot (5,000 to 30,000 Scoville Units)

Fruit Shape:

Fruit Size:
Small (under 2" in length)

Fruit Color:
Cream changing to red
Yellow changing to red

Disease Resistance:
Unknown - Tell us

Seed Type:

Fresh (salsa, salads)

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Suitable for growing in containers

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Propagation Methods:
From woody stem cuttings
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Wear gloves to protect hands when handling seeds

Days to Maturity:
Late (more than 80 days)

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There are a total of 9 photos.
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11 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive JackTheRipper On Jan 17, 2010, JackTheRipper from McKeesport, PA wrote:

Very good intro plant for new gardeners.
Easy to take care of, grows like a weed, and you'll soon be swimming in pods.

Heat level is moderate. Pods are thin walled and juicy.

Positive dianne11 On Dec 11, 2009, dianne11 from Spring, TX wrote:

I purchased this little 3" Tabasco plant at Wal Mart for $.87 expecting to grow a small plant with a few peppers. Well lo and behold, this little plant grew to over 10' tall and produced hundreds of peppers. My husband and I just watched this thing grow and grow and grow. We planted it in a side garden along with some flowers and herbs and was just amazed, still are. We had a freeze here in Spring, Texas last week and the freeze has it wilted. We have saved a lot of peppers for seeds and will plant again. I don't know if the plant will come back from root or not. I am going to prune back and wait. The peppers were hot, but very tasty. We supplied many neighbors and friends with these peppers and everyone enjoyed them. 12-10-09

Positive shog On Apr 27, 2008, shog from Catonsville, MD wrote:

Maryland. Aggressive grower, prolific fruit, truly drought resistant, brutal peppers, brutal flavor. Hard to kill. Ideal for pots and plant neglectors.

Bought a seedling. Produced fruit much later than my other peppers, once it got going it went crazy. Foolishly i had put it in a window box with a habanero and cayenne, it overwhelmed those. It put up one main branch that grew up two feet and then sideways three feet, until it became ridiculous and I had to prune it. Overwintered in a dorm room closet under cool white fluorescent. Did not water for 1 month during winter break. When i came back, Cayenne and Habanero were dead, Tabasco was fine. Next year, in the old box, even heavier production. Overwintered a second time and it was threatened by aphids, who were in turn threatened by mail-order ladybugs. Saw three summers before aphids finally killed it.

Pods are thin-skinned, full of juice, very few seeds. That's what makes it so good for sauce. When ripe, they are red-orange and the pod should actually easily pull out of the green stem cap. Flavor is bitter and nasty. Five or ten will liven up some chili but really not that pleasant eating alone. Viciously hot.

Story: move-in day, new roommate asks if it's hot. Yes. Asks if he can eat one. Yes. Says, "yeah, that's hot." Vomits. Brushes teeth. Drinks four glasses of milk. I ate one raw once. Only time i felt burning between my teeth.

Positive kabel On Aug 10, 2005, kabel from Wexford, PA wrote:

Grows like gangbusters on a deck with full sun, southern exposure. I'm a rookie and am a little unsure as to what color to harvest peppers at, but I'll find out. Very hardy plant.

Positive Breezymeadow On Mar 8, 2005, Breezymeadow from Culpeper, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

I purchased one tiny (4" high) pot-bound seedling of this at one of my local garden center's end-of-planting-season sales last June.

I set it, with a few other hot pepper varieties, in a raised bed of primarily well-composted horse manure, & covered it with a lightweight row cover to protect against any possible pests until it was necessary to uncover it for blossom pollination. Except at the initial planting time, I did not have to provide it with any additional water, nor did I fertilize it.

By the end of August/early September, this one plant was approximately 3-feet tall & covered with HUNDREDS of small (1"-2" long), extremely HOT, narrow, thin-walled peppers, ranging in color from pale yellowish-green, to bright yellow, to bright orange, to bright scarlet.

Besides the obvious use in cooking spicy cuisines, this plant with its multicolored harvest is extremely attractive, & would probably make a nice addition to the rear of an edible border.

Positive melody On Mar 7, 2005, melody from Benton, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

Very productive...this pepper is absolutely covered in the tiny, pointed fruits.

Besides the obvious use of making hot sauce, it makes a great addition to your homemade pickles and dried pepper mixes. One or two will flavor a whole pot of salsa also.

Positive PvillePlanter On Nov 9, 2004, PvillePlanter from Pflugerville, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I grow these every year. They are quite hardy and easy to start by either direct seeding or reseeding by allowing a few of the peppers to fall to the ground. We use them in small amounts for cooking but mostly dried and ground as a spice or puree them fresh in the blender and add a little vingegar and just a pinch of salt for tabasco sauce. Do be careful when handling both peppers and seeds. Avoid any hand contact to your face as this can cause severe eye burning. Wash hands thoroughly after handling.

Positive melody On Nov 6, 2004, melody from Benton, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

Grows with abandon and produces tons of hot little peppers here in West KY. Seems to tolerate drought better than some of the other peppers I've grown, but is content if it gets lots of moisture also.

A couple of plants will produce enough peppers to serve the needs of most will cover itself in fruits until frost.

Positive Farmerdill On Oct 21, 2004, Farmerdill from Augusta, GA (Zone 8a) wrote:

Matures in 90 days. This heirloom was introduced into Louisiana in 1848, and became the main Ingredient in Tabasco Pepper Sauce. This pepper is very hot and has a delicious flavor. The plants grow up to four feet tall and are covered with small, thin peppers. Needs a warm summer or can be grown as a potted plant. Fruit ripen from green to orange, then red. I grew this cultivar in the early seventies. It grew well and the small peppers which point upward are very attractive growing. I prefer the flavor of the Slim Cayenne but it is an attractive pepper.

Positive dvingin On Feb 28, 2004, dvingin from Carnegie, PA (Zone 5b) wrote:

I've had a tabasco plant in each of tha past two summers- one very dry and little rain, one with rain practically every day- and had success both times. Enough, at least, to encourage me further. This will be my first time starting from seed- wish me luck!

Positive clantonnaomi On Sep 28, 2003, clantonnaomi from Iredell, TX wrote:

We have grown these for years. My husband makes pepper sauce all of the time - he picks the peppers , puts them in jars, pours boiling vinegar over them, and then seals the jars. This pepper sauce is fantastic - much better than store bought.

Neutral Thaumaturgist On Sep 10, 2003, Thaumaturgist from Rockledge, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

Avery Island, Louisiana.

A 50,000-foot subterranean salt dome surrounded by marsh, swamp and a bayou. It is also where Edward Avery “Ned” McIlhenny’s Company had been growing the Tabasco pepper and making the fiery Tabasco pepper sauce since 1868.

Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders carried bottles of Tabasco sauce at San Juan Hill.

In World Wars I, II and the Korean War, bottles of Tabasco sauce were shipped to the soldiers from their loved ones.

During the Vietnam war, the McIlhenny Co. sent thousands of copies of the Charley Ration Cookbook with recipes for spicing up C Rations with Tabasco sauce, wrapped around bottles of Tabasco sauce in waterproof canisters.

By the time Operation Desert Storm ended in 1991, Tabasco sauce had become a staple in the Meal, Ready-to-Eat (MRE). Today US troops stationed around the world receive a 1/8-ounce bottle of the Tabasco sauce, made from Tabasco peppers, vinegar and salt, with each MRE.

The tiny bottles are filled with sauce shipped from Avery Island, Louisiana to a Brooklyn, N.Y., packer. From there, the bottles go to facilities around the country where MRE components, from Towelettes and Burritos to Matches and M&Ms, are assembled into MRE packets.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Batesville, Arkansas
Ceres, California
Morgan Hill, California
Oceanside, California
Rosemead, California
Interlachen, Florida
Jacksonville Beach, Florida
Keystone Heights, Florida
Pensacola, Florida
Rockledge, Florida
Wakulla Springs, Florida
Dacula, Georgia
Marietta, Georgia
Snellville, Georgia
Chatham, Illinois
Benton, Kentucky
Frankfort, Kentucky
La Place, Louisiana
Marrero, Louisiana
Georgetown, Massachusetts
Newaygo, Michigan
Nevada, Missouri
Drexel, North Carolina
Howard, Ohio
Carnegie, Pennsylvania
Mc Keesport, Pennsylvania
Wexford, Pennsylvania
Charleston, South Carolina
Manchester, Tennessee
Cypress, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
Iredell, Texas
Liberty Hill, Texas
Pflugerville, Texas
Spring, Texas (2 reports)
Radford, Virginia

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