Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Hot Pepper
Capsicum chinense 'Habanero'

Family: Solanaceae (so-lan-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Capsicum (KAP-sih-kum) (Info)
Species: chinense (chi-NEN-see) (Info)
Cultivar: Habanero

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22 members have or want this plant for trade.

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24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade

Heat (Pungency):
Extremely Hot (above 30,000 Scoville Units)

Fruit Shape:

Fruit Size:
Small (under 2" in length)

Fruit Color:
Green changing to orange

Disease Resistance:
Tobacco Mosaic Virus (TMV)
Potato Virus Y (PVY)
Phytophthora Blight
Tobacco Etch Virus (TEV)
Bacterial Leaf Spot (BLS), Race 1
Bacterial Leaf Spot (BLS), Race 2
Bacterial Leaf Spot (BLS), Race 3
Pepper Mottle Virus (PepMV)
Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus (TSWV)

Seed Type:

Fresh (salsa, salads)

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

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

Propagation Methods:
From seed; sow indoors before last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

Days to Maturity:
Mid (69-80 days)
Late (more than 80 days)

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There are a total of 15 photos.
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15 positives
3 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Weedwhacker On Feb 7, 2010, Weedwhacker from Bark River (UP), MI (Zone 4b) wrote:

I was quite surprised at how well these grew for me here in northern Michigan. These are tall pepper plants and the pepers are very ornamental - which is good because they are too hot for me to enjoy eating! They also produce a lot of peppers on each plant, and most recipes call for at most 1 habenero pepper. If you really love HOT, this is the pepper to grow.

Positive growhotpeppers On Feb 5, 2010, growhotpeppers from San Jose, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

This is by far my favorite pepper plant. Although no longer considered the "hottest" pepper anymore, it is an original "pure" pepper that has no interspecies breeding so I give it much respect. Further, the habanero germinates well when started indoors (I use a simple propagator with heat mat underneath) and it produces extremely hot, yet fruity tasting peppers that can be enjoyed in so many ways.

I eat these peppers as compliments to main dishes, as ground up powder for flavoring and even blend them in my margaritas! Also, try adding bit a habanero powder to your cookie dough recipe. Yum!!

Positive AceOfSpades453 On Feb 4, 2010, AceOfSpades453 from Westbury, NY (Zone 7a) wrote:

I grew a bunch of these orange habanero pepper plants back in summer 2009. They do very well grown in large pots. The yield was very impressive. Many of the peppers were still green at the end of the summer. Being that I couldn't bear to watch them die, I decided to overwinter two of the plants. I placed them next to a south facing window where they get the most sun (and they were next to the heater). They are doing very well. I have figured out their cycle by now. All of the peppers ripened indoors around October. Soon after, I removed the ripened peppers, new flowers appeared all over. I harvested another round of peppers in late January and soon after that, another wave of flowers appeared.

Like the previous comments, these peppers are extremely hot. I made the mistake of accidently touching my eye and I was on the floor crying. I learned my lesson of using gloves when handling these. They seem to be the hottest when eaten fresh. But, if you dice them, and saute them with garlic and oil, the intensity of the heat drops (not by much though).

Lastly, they are very easy to grow despite how long it takes for the peppers to ripen. The habanero peppers I see at the supermarket don't even compare to the ones I grew. They are definitely better when grown at home.

Positive WillowWasp On Jul 5, 2009, WillowWasp from Jones Creek, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

I grow this one for beauty and to add color to the garden. It is to hot to eat and I am afraid to handle it as I might burn something I sure don't want to.

Positive CurtisJones On Nov 24, 2008, CurtisJones from Longmont, CO wrote:

From your friends at Botanical Interests: Once upon a time, the Habanero pepper was considered to be the hottest pepper in the world. (But, the Guiness Book of World Records recently declared that the Bhut Jolokia from India has the current honor.) Still, the Habanero is 100 times hotter than a jalapeno and not for the faint of palette! Prized by chile aficionados, not only for its intense heat, but for its distinct fruitiness, the Habanero is used in sensational salsas and will turn a bland barbeque into a fiery feast! These peppers are 2.5 long and 1 wide with an oblong lantern shape, and they turn orange when mature. Be sure to use gloves when harvesting the fruit or handling them in the kitchen and do not touch any other body part after touching them until you have thoroughly washed your hands.

Neutral Bookerc1 On Jun 26, 2008, Bookerc1 from Mackinaw, IL (Zone 5a) wrote:

This is my husband's favorite hot pepper, though they are too much for me. The plants seem to thrive here, and are among the most productive we grow, with 40+ peppers per plant. We have found they freeze well, to store the excess produce.

A helpful hint that I learned while working in a vegetarian restaurant: if your skin burns from handling hot peppers, coat it with yogurt or sour cream, and it will counteract the burning sensation. Drinking milk will also help kill the "burn" in your mouth, much more effectively than water, or eating bread products. One cook touched his upper lip after cutting habaneros, and it turned all red and puffy. It took half an hour to persuade him to put sour cream on it, as he was convinced I was trying to play a prank on him and make him look foolish! It gave him immediate relief, however.

Handle these babies with care! Be sure to wash your cutting board well before moving on to other peppers, as well, or you may get an unpleasant surprise!

Positive Suepurrvey On Sep 18, 2007, Suepurrvey from Shelburn, IN wrote:

I had great success with growing one plant here in southern Indiana. But I tried hanging them to dry ( stringing them with thread so they are not touching) and they are turning black. Not moldy or rotten, just black and losing more than half their size. I have used this method of drying with other types of peppers and it worked well. Is this normal for the habanero to lose most of its size and turn black while drying?

Positive tmccullo On Aug 18, 2006, tmccullo from Houston, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

Bought a small plant in March. It is about 4' tall now and extremely productive. Most all of the peppers are 2" in length. In 5 months this plant has probably produced over 50 peppers. Great taste and very hot.

Positive jtr2888 On Aug 10, 2006, jtr2888 from Bethlehem, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

I'm a bit of a pepper nut, and habs are among the easiest to grow in my opinion. Sometimes germination can be tricky, but once they get started, they are pretty vigorous.

The plants grow like small bushes. They are not as upright as Jalapeno's or Bell peppers. The thrive in heat, so they need to be protected early in the season if there is a threat of frost.

The plants get loaded with peppers. A few plants provide me with dozens of peppers, which is far more than I could ever use. The peppers should be handled with care though. They are extremely hot. If you handle them and touch you eyes, get ready for a trip to the ER. Wearing gloves isn't a bad idea, but at the very least, wash your hands thoroughly after handling.

Positive digger007 On Jan 12, 2006, digger007 from Happy Camp, CA (Zone 7b) wrote:

I have grown the orange habanero in the Happy camp,CA. area for 2 years now and have had great success with it. I love growing peppers but this one especially. This last year was my best, I had 16 plants and were late getting started and abandoned due to moving but I use a food hydrater to dry them whole and cut in half and then I grind up the halves for pepper flakes. They are easy to store and this year I had about 3/4 of a gallon of flakes and 1 quart of whole ones. I save some whole because they have a beautiful amber appearance. Good display! But all are right about the danger, they are lethal and handling without surgical gloves is a near fatal mistake. I'm hoping to market them someday at farmer's market with other types but around here not too many people can handle them. My one problem is germanation but I'm picking up lots of hints both here and in circle of fire chili sites. Everyone should try them.

Positive KorgBoy On Dec 10, 2005, KorgBoy from Townsville
Australia wrote:

I bought some refrigerated orange habanero pods from an asian store, and was successful in growing lots of plants out of the seeds from those refrigerated pods. The refrigerated pods were in very good condition. Very fresh. I just cut the pods open with a knife and got the seeds out, then let the seeds dry for a day. I then planted all the seeds near the surface of some sandy potting mix (about 1/4 inch deep) and kept the surface damp, with the pot in a very warm and sunny place. The seeds just sprouted all over the place in the pot after about a week only.

I'm guessing that fresh seeds should germinate pretty well.

I then decided to do an internet order for some red habanero seeds and white jellybean habanero seeds ...each packet came with about 25 dried seeds. I used the same planting method and potting mixture as the way I did with the orange habanero seeds. After 4 weeks, I have a total of only 1 seed germinate (a red habanero), which is kind of disappointing.

I then ordered some more seeds and tried out better seed start-up techniques recommended by various habanero information websites. The method I used to germinate the seeds was a clear fast-food plastic container filled with a thick layer of white fast-food paper towels, with seeds scattered on top of the layer of paper towels. I then covered the seeds with a couple of paper towels. I sprayed water onto the seeds and paper towels to get everything moist - not water-logged. Then covered the plastic container with clear plastic wrap and put the container on the very warm top of a refrigerator. I checked the container each day, and some seeds sprouted after a couple of weeks.

So whenever each seed sprouted, I planted the germinated seed very shallowly (about 1/4 inch deep) into potting mix (outdoors in plastic pots), with the newly sprouted tip (which is going to be the root of the plant) pointing roughly downward. Before planting the germinated seeds, I pre-treated the surface layer of the potting mix by heavy spraying with camomile tea and also sprinkled a moderate amount of cinnamon powder on the surface of the soil. I figured that I'd try both of these things because some say that they have natural fungicide properties to combat the damping-off fungus in the soils, which are a real killer of habanero seedlings in the early stages of growth.

And now, the little habanero seedlings are doing just fine in bright sunny conditions (in the tropics). I just use a spray bottle to water the seedlings with camomile tea and soil in the day time to keep the soil damp. I try not to have the young seedlings wet during the night time when the sunlight is not around. And I keep cinnamon powder sprinkled moderately all around the top layer of soil, and allow the powder to naturally work its way down into the soil with the camomile tea. Apparently, too much use of cinnamon could hamper root growth, so best to use it in moderation only. Once the seedlings get bigger and stronger with thick stems, it's no longer susceptible to damping-off fungus attacks, so we can do away with the tea sprays and cinnamon powder treatments when we get to that stage. And if these natural fungicides (claimed by some) don't do the job, then there's always the commercial fungicides to try - like Fongarid (which definitely works).

One more important thing is to not plant the seeds extremely close to the surface, such as the seed being just below the air-soil interface. That's because if the seedling has not shed its seed coat, then the seedling will push the seed coat up above the soil, and the seed coat will dry out and become hard, and chances are that the seedling could die because the embryonic leaves can't get out of its hardened seed coat. So it's best to plant the seed 1/4 inch below the surface so that the seed coat can remain moist and flexible enough for the seedling to shed the coat. I'm not sure how the seedlings make it in nature though when they germinate at a shallow depth.

Extra update: I bought some fresh red habanero pods from the supermarket, then just scooped the fresh seeds out and planted in 3 small pots with typical garden potting mix. After about a week or so, the seeds just sprouted everywhere. Habanero seeds germinate very easily when the seeds are fresh, and when the temperature is not too low.

Positive admodeva On Nov 20, 2005, admodeva from Dutton, AL (Zone 7a) wrote:

We've grown habaneros every summer because my husband loves them. They are very easy to grow and 1 plant will give you plenty (at least for us). I don't even pick these anymore though, if you have even a small cut on your hand or touch your eyes without thinking it's a painful burn.

Positive Kwanzon On Aug 1, 2005, Kwanzon from Milford, PA (Zone 6a) wrote:

I love these peppers. They are very good... in small quantities. What makes the peppers hot is the capscain in the pepper. You can lessen the "burn" and remove some of the capsacin in the pepper if you remove the white on the inside of the pepper. The film is the hottest part and will contain the most capsacin.

Positive melody On Jan 25, 2005, melody from Benton, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

Extremely hot, these peppers should be handled and used with care. They can be quite painful if any gets in your eyes or nose. The seeds are a little touchy to germinate and bottom heat of about 80*F is recommended for best results. Even then it can take a week or two for germination.

The plants are on the smallish side and do well in containers, but if used in containers around the house, one should make sure that small children are kept at a distance from them. The orange fruits are cute and look appealing, and a child could be in distress for hours if one is eaten or handled.

Handle with gloves when preparing them. I keep surgical gloves in the kitchen for just this purpose. The oils in the peppers can get airborne if they are chopped or processed. I chopped some in my food processor one day and my husband and I had to leave the house...the heat got airborne and burned out noses and throats.

That said, I love these peppers. They have a unique smoky, fruity flavor that is like no other pepper. Just take care as you prepare them, and use in moderation.

Neutral Kelli On Oct 5, 2004, Kelli from L.A. (Canoga Park), CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

Seeds germinate best if a heated seed-starting pad is used.

Positive wickedweed On Sep 3, 2004, wickedweed from Loughborough
United Kingdom wrote:

Habaneros chili grows very well in a greenhouse in the UK. Treat it just like a tomato plant - except you don't need to stake or tie it for support. Any excess chilis can be frozen - just cut off the stem attachment, scoop out seeds and put into a plastic bag in your freezer.

Positive twobells On Mar 22, 2004, twobells from Rocklin, CA wrote:

I have been growing the Habanero pepper here in the hot Sacramento Valley for many years with great success. Being one of the hottest of all peppers at 300,000 Scoville Units, it must be handled with care for it will burn your eyes and skin if not protected.

Being a small plant, I usually plant two very close together in the same cage. Most are dried either in halves or in thin threads for cooking usage. I also make a hot jelly with the threads which are great with cream cheese and crackers or may be used as a condiment with meat and fish.

Neutral ideboda On Jun 26, 2003, ideboda from T-village ;) - Friesland
Netherlands (Zone 6a) wrote:

This kind of peppers, looking like cute little sweet peppers, are very very very hot!
I once bought a few at a supermarket not knowing their name and what they were really like. Taking a little bite was really painful, lasting for about half an hour as far as I remember.


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

Dutton, Alabama
Mesa, Arizona
Siloam Springs, Arkansas
Goleta, California
Happy Camp, California
Los Angeles, California
Mountain View, California
Oceanside, California
Rocklin, California
San Diego, California
Thousand Oaks, California
Winchester, California
Longmont, Colorado
Deltona, Florida
Destin, Florida
Lutz, Florida
Rockledge, Florida
Zephyrhills, Florida
Marietta, Georgia
Honomu, Hawaii
Kailua Kona, Hawaii
Mackinaw, Illinois
Matteson, Illinois
Shelburn, Indiana
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Benton, Kentucky
Frankfort, Kentucky
Leesville, Louisiana
Foxboro, Massachusetts
Bark River, Michigan
Las Vegas, Nevada
Greenville, New Hampshire
Bayville, New Jersey
Trenton, New Jersey
Syracuse, New York
Westbury, New York
Yonkers, New York
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Mc Keesport, Pennsylvania
Hardeeville, South Carolina
Sparta, Tennessee
Austin, Texas (2 reports)
Danbury, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
Freeport, Texas
Garland, Texas
Houston, Texas
Sugar Land, Texas
Jonesville, Virginia
Roanoke, Virginia
Kennewick, Washington
Orchards, Washington

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