If you’re a hot pepper buff, it only makes sense that you want to make them pack as much punch as possible.
To grow hotter hot peppers, the key is happy, healthy plants. Capsaicin increases as peppers age so your goal is to ensure your peppers reach full maturity and get as hot as possible! To do that, you should transplant correctly, plant in full sun, fertilize properly, ensure they get the proper amount of water, and prune as necessary.
Keep reading to learn all about how to grow peppers hotter.
What makes peppers hot?
Why are hot peppers hot in the first place?
Capsaicin is the compound that makes peppers hot. It stimulates the same receptors and nerves in your body that physical heat does. Capsaicin content increases as peppers mature, making them spicier.
Capsaicin is responsible for making peppers hot.
Capsaicin is very powerful! It can trick your body into having reactions such as burning and sweating as if exposed to physical heat. Capsaicin does so by stimulating certain receptors and nerves that are related to temperature.
Capsaicin increases as peppers age, so more mature peppers are spicier. Capsaicin will continue to increase even after a pepper is picked, allowing it to ripen further while off the vine.
Can you actually make peppers hotter?
So is it even possible to increase how hot your peppers are?
You can make peppers hotter by making them happier! Mature peppers are the spiciest, so the trick to growing hot peppers is to grow them to maturity in great conditions.
Okay, so fully mature peppers are hotter due to an increased capsaicin content. Let’s take this a step further.
The solution? Grow happy peppers by taking great care of them and providing amazing growing conditions!
How to make your hot peppers hotter!
Let’s go over some tips and tricks to grow happy, healthy hot peppers.
The best ways to make your peppers hotter are:
- Transplant correctly
- Plant in full sun
Time to talk about these tips in detail so you can grow some really spicy peppers!
Transplanting is the foundation of the entire growing season.
One way to grow hot peppers hotter is to transplant them correctly. A proper transplant will set your peppers up for success, ultimately making them hotter in the long run!
Transplanting your peppers correctly can make or break their entire life cycle!
It’s important to transplant your seedlings once nighttime lows are above 50°F. They also need to be below 70°F. Any temperatures consistently outside of this window will lead to stunted growth.
Some tips for transplanting include:
- Waiting for your peppers to develop three sets of true leaves first
- Being gentle when handling young transplants
- Fertilizing at ½ strength and watering deeply upon transplant
- Hardening your peppers prior to transplanting
Plant in full sun
Planting in full sun is vital if you want your plants to have enough energy to grow well!
One way to grow hot peppers hotter is to plant them in full sun. This is a great way to ensure that they reach full maturity- which is when they’re the hottest!
Peppers require at least 6-8 hours of full sun every day. They do best when that number is closer to 10!
Some hot peppers like poblanos are heavy producers, yielding up to 40 peppers a season!
Such heavy production requires a lot of energy, which, for plants, comes from photosynthesis. And sunlight makes photosynthesis possible!
Fertilization is often overlooked, while simultaneously being one of the best tools you have to grow happy plants.
One way to grow hot peppers hotter is to fertilize them. Fertilization makes a huge difference and will make your peppers healthier and happier! Healthy, happy peppers are hotter peppers.
You’ll be shocked to see how much happier your peppers are when you fertilize them!
Fertilization provides plants with the proper nutrients they need in order to grow. Different fertilizers have different ratios of nutrients in them – so you can tailor which fertilizer you buy based on what your specific plants need.
Pepper plants enjoy fertilizers with an NPK value of 5-10-10. NPK is the ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in your fertilizer.
When you first fertilize your peppers, only use ½ strength to avoid shocking their baby systems with excessive nutrients.
You can fertilize 2-3 times throughout the season, or get an extended-release version so you only have to worry about it once.
Watering your garden is the most consistent chore of the entire growing process.
One way to grow hot peppers hotter is to water them. Your hot peppers won’t reach full maturity unless you water them well, and peppers are hotter when they’re fully mature.
Peppers require anywhere from 1-2 inches of water each week.
If you’re experiencing prolonged extreme heat, your peppers will need even more water.
Likewise, well-draining soil will need to be watered more frequently too.
Pruning is a great way to spend some more time in the garden while also promoting your plant’s health!
One way to grow hot peppers hotter is to prune them. Pruning hot peppers helps them put their energy into building healthy roots and producing lots of fruit.
Pruning peppers can encourage root growth, lead to higher yields, and more.
You should prune early in the season, mid-season, and at the end of the season to get one big final yield.
To prune a pepper plant, first, you need to sanitize your shears. Hold your plant gently and prune right at the junction of two young leaves. Compost the cut branch and you’re all done!