Hot Pepper Plants: Tips On Growing Peppers For Hot Sauce

Hot Pepper Plants: Tips On Growing Peppers For Hot Sauce

By: Amy Grant

If you’re a lover of all things spicy, I’m betting you have a collection of hot sauces. For those of us who like it four star hot or greater, hot sauce is often an essential ingredient in our culinary masterpieces. In recent years, a dizzying array of these tongue-blistering to tame delights are available to the consumer, but did you know that making your own is fairly simple and begins with growing your own peppers for hot sauce making? So what are the best peppers for making hot sauce? Read on to find out.

Types of Hot Peppers for Making Sauce

There are an almost unending number of hot pepper plants to choose from. Chili colors alone range from brilliant orange to brown, purple, red and even blue. The heat levels vary according to the Scoville heat index, a measure of the capsaicin in the pepper — from knock your socks off hot to a subtle tingling on the tip of your tongue.

With such variety it’s difficult to narrow down which chili pepper to plant. The good news is that they all can make amazing hot sauce. Keep in mind that peppers in the garden tend to cross-pollinate, so unless you plant only one type of hot pepper plant, it’s really a crap shoot as to how hot different varieties may become.

I like the element of surprise, however, and utilizing different types of hot peppers for sauce making is really somewhat of an experiment. Start with a small batch first. Too hot? Try a different combination, or try roasting the peppers instead of using them fresh, which will impart a whole new flavor profile. Anyway, I digress, back to types of hot peppers for sauce making.

Hot Peppers for Sauce

Peppers are categorized partially by their heat level on the Scoville scale:

  • Sweet/mild chili peppers (0-2500)
  • Medium chili peppers (2501-15,000)
  • Medium hot chili peppers (15,001-100,000)
  • Hot chili peppers (100,001-300,000)
  • Superhots (300,001)

Mildly spiced peppers include:

  • Paprika chili, which is usually dried and ground.
  • Soroa chili, also dried and ground.
  • Aji Panc, a very mild deep red to burgundy pepper.
  • Santa Fe Grande, or yellow hot chili
  • Anaheim, a mild and medium sized pepper used both green and red.
  • Poblano is a very popular variety that is dark green, gradually ripening to dark red or brown and is often dried – called ancho chili.
  • Hatch chili peppers are also in the mild Scoville scale and are long and curved, perfect for stuffing.
  • Peppadew peppers are grown in the Limpopo province of South Africa and are actually the brand name of sweet piquant peppers.
  • Espanola, Rocotillo and New Mex Joe E Parker peppers are also on the mild side.

Pasilla chili peppers are really interesting. They are dried chilaca peppers known as pasilla bajio or chile negro when fresh. Eight to ten inches long, this pepper’s heat index ranges from 250 all the way up to 3,999 Scovilles. So, these peppers range from mild to medium.

Getting a little bit warmer, here are a few medium choices:

  • Cascabel chilies are small and deep red.
  • New Mex Big Jim are a giant varietal and is a cross between a few different types of chilies and a Peruvian chili
  • Still hotter are Jalapenos and Serrano peppers, which I have found can vary from very mild to slightly spicy.

Cranking the heat up, here are some medium hot peppers:

  • Tabasco
  • Cayenne
  • Thai
  • Datil

The following are considered hot chili peppers:

  • Fatalii
  • Orange Habanero
  • Scotch Bonnet

And now we shift it into nuclear. The superhots include:

  • Red Savina Habanero
  • Naga Jolokia (aka Ghost Pepper)
  • Trinidad Moruga Scorpion
  • Carolina Reaper, deemed one of the hottest peppers ever

The above list is by no means comprehensive and I’m sure you can find many other varieties. The point is, when growing peppers for hot sauce making, narrowing down your choices may be the challenge.

As for the best peppers to make hot sauce? Any one of the above combined with the three basic elements for the perfect hot sauce – the sweet, the acidic and the hot – is sure to create the perfect spiced elixir.

This article was last updated on

Adding a burst of flavor has never been so easy. Let our infographic guide to homemade salsa recipes spice up your mealtimes!

  • By Brittany Yamamoto-Taylor
  • June 25, 2018

Peppers and salsas come in all colors, sizes, and heats. Biting into the right pepper can leave you reaching for another spoonful or running towards the nearest glass of milk. In this article, we’ll guide you through the origins of salsa, the many types of peppers, and how to craft a perfect salsa for your palate.

Salsa technically means “sauce” in Spanish and has been livening up Latin American food for centuries. What many people don’t know is that the history of salsa actually starts with the Aztecs, Mayans, and Incas. Spanish writings reported that Aztecs made a sauce combining chilies, tomatoes, spices, and ingredients like squash seeds and beans. So, we can thank indigenous people groups for every spoonful of fresh and exciting flavor!

Enjoy our free downloadable infographic that will walk you through pepper and salsa basics:

How To Grow Hot Peppers In Hydroponics

This is How To Grow HOT PEPPERS In Hydroponics.

There are many different types of hydroponics setups, a few of them are: DWC (Deep Water Culture), Ebb and Flow (flood and drain), NFT (Nutrient Film Technique), Aquaponics (sustainable relationship using fish and plants), and more! We are going to be going through DWC systems today for our hot peppers. It is called deep water culture because the roots are suspended in a light nutrient solution that has an aquarium air stone in it to oxygenate the water so the hot pepper plant can actively uptake nutrients to grow. For a basic pepper growing DWC system you will need the following:

  • 5 Gallon Bucket
  • 6-8 inch Net Pot
  • Distilled or RO Water (you can find RO water at grocery stores)
  • Plant Nutrients
  • Seeds
  • Rapid Rooters or Rockwool
  • One small bag of Hydroton / clay pebbles
  • Air Pump
  • Aquarium Air Stone.
  • Grow Light

In most regions of the U.S., ghost peppers will need to be started indoors 10-14 weeks prior to the last frost for your area. They need around 5 months (140+ days) of very hot and humid weather in order to succeed and will not tolerate any temperatures below 73° F. Your soil temperatures must be around 80° F – 90° F for successful germination. A geographical location with about 70-80% humidity is also ideal for growing ghost peppers.

Growing Location

To have a chance at growing a successful ghost pepper plant, you need to recreate the harsh environment of northern Bhutan, India. This means that outdoor growing in the U.S. may only be possible for regions 5a-11b. Raised beds or very large pots are ideal for ghost peppers because the soil will be much more warm and will stay that way. Choose an area of your secret garden that receives as much sunlight as possible for as long as possible. Bhut Jolokia (ghost) Peppers can be grown indoors if all ideal conditions are achieved. This will mean grow lights in a room separated from the rest of the house so temperatures and humidity can be kept high.


Ghost peppers need a loamy soil. A peat containing soil tends to work considerably well. When growing ghost peppers you will want to avoid heavy clay and potting mix like miracle grow. The soils pH should around be 6.0 – 6.8 in order for nutrients to not get locked out causing a plethora of problems. It is always a great idea to amend your soil with compost, bonemeal, and fish fertilizer prior to transplanting. This will normally guarantee the plants will have the nutrients they need properly.

PLANT NUTRITION Ghost peppers benefit from a regular diet of organic nutrients or compost tea. You will want to avoid high nitrogen fertilizers. The plants will look nice but your peppers wont be.

PLANTING Starting seeds is the first tough thing to accomplish when trying to grow Bhut Jolokias. For best results, you should consider germinating your seeds indoors. You will need to soak the seeds in water overnight before sowing. plant one seed in each compartment of your seed starting tray. Provide constant bottom heat, such as from a heating pad or the top of your refrigerator. The soil temperature must remain steady around 80° F – 90° F for successful germination. Keep the planting medium moist, but never sopping wet. You will need to keep out of direct sunlight until the first sprouts appear from the soil. You may cover the top of your seed starting container with plastic to help maintain moisture in the soil. Germination should occur around 7-21 days but can take up to 40 days, so be patient and don't cry. You should transplant seedlings into 3 to 4-inch plastic pots as soon as the second set of true leaves appear on your plant. Please do not transplant outdoors until temperatures reach a constant 70 degrees F or higher, even at night. When you are ready to transplant outdoors you will have to harden off your seedlings. This means bringing them into the outdoor environment very slowly so they get used to fluctuating temperatures and higher amounts of light.You will need to place the seedling pots outdoors during the day for a couple hours the first day adding an hour or so every day after. Do this for about ten to twelve days. On the 10th day you should leave them outside overnight. The next day you should transplant into some moist soil before it gets too hot outside. Transplant seedlings 2-3 feet apart.

WATERING & CARE Water on a schedule. Give them a good long soaking about twice per week during dry periods. Keep the soil moist but not drenched or saturated. The best times to water are early in the morning or after the sun starts to set. NEVER water during high noon or you are asking for your plants to get cooked You will also want to keep your ghost peppers free of weeds and other nasty things.

POLLINATION Proper pollination is key to growing successful ghost peppers. Try to introduce bees and other beneficial insects by growing lots of flowers in your garden. Make sure the peppers are grown in a spot with good air circulation and spaced properly. If you are not noticing lots of beneficial insects in and around your pepper plants and if they are producing flowers but not fruit, you may need to hand pollinate. Use a small, clean paintbrush and gently brush the center bud of each flower. The idea is to spread pollen from flower to flower.

HARVESTING Your ghost peppers will change from green to orange and then to a brilliant striking red when they are ready to be picked. You will always want to wear gloves while handling your new ghost peppers and remember avoid contact with the face or eyes AND KEEP AWAY FROM CHILDREN. You can pull them directly off the plant or you can cut their vines.

Other Thoughts Ghost peppers can be very tasty if you use them in proper ways. I personally enjoy smoking ghost peppers over a nice bed of Apple Wood! Please treat ghost peppers and hotter peppers with respect, they can seriously hurt you if you do not know what you are doing. Super hot peppers are NOT to be used as pranks and are to be used responsibly. From pest deterrent to supreme culinary works of art, ghost peppers are a great tool. A suggested use is to make your very own hot sauce! A lot of people only know one way of growing plants and that is in soil.

Growing Peppers In Hydroponics

Did you know you could grow in a water and nutrient solution? Beginning your own hydroponic system will help you learn why plants need particular nutrients and growing environment as well as giving you the best from your plants. Why do you want to grow in hydroponics? Lets take a look at some pro's and con's. PROS:

  • More control over growing environment
  • Better nutrient uptake directly correlates to better yields, hotter peppers, and better tasting fruits.
  • Faster growth.
  • Semi-pest resistant

First you need to get yourself a 5 gallon bucket at your local hardware store. Black or dark blue is preferable so you dont have to deal with algae problems that you would have if you used white 5 gallon buckets. Take your net pot lid and drill a 1/4 inch hole in the top about 1.5 inches away from the center like so. After completing this step, run your air tubing from the air outlet of your pump to the air stone while passing through the hole you drilled in the net pot lid earlier

ill with water to the bottom of the net pot like so and add nutrients to water. Follow the directions on your chosen nutrients (THEY MUST BE HYDROPONIC NUTRIENTS, NOT MIRACLE GROW)

Put a seed in the rapid rooter in its proper orientation making sure the seed hole faces up.

Place rapid rooter into the net pot and surround it with hydroton Turn on the pump and grow light and for the first 8 weeks of the plants life set the light to 18 hours on and 6 off. This should be enough information to get you started with your very own hydroponics DWC setup! So get out there, research more on it and come on back and we will explore more about hydroponics.

10 Different Types of Peppers to Add to Salads, Stir-Fries, and Other Tasty Recipes

Whether your dish calls for spicy chili peppers or sweet bell peppers, these picks bring the flavor (and heat).

All types of peppers are a part of the Capsicum family, which includes both the sweet peppers as well as the hot and spicy ones, often referred to as chili peppers. Fun fact: the heat of a pepper is measured using Scoville heat units (SHU), and this scale goes from o, think bell pepper, to the X Pepper which clocks in at over 3,000,000 (ouch!).

Below we broke down each type of pepper, and included their SHU measurements, so you can know exactly when and how much heat you’re adding to a dip or skillet supper. Just be warned that the heat can still vary from pepper to pepper, so one jalapeño could taste milder compared to another.

Quick tip for those who can't handle the heat: have some dairy, like yogurt or milk, nearby to help balance the spicy heat in chilis. If you want to simply take the spice level down a notch, remove and discard the seed and whitish ribs before using it.

Interested in growing your own peppers? You can read a step by step guide to reaping the best (and spiciest) crop ever!

Planting and Care

You can buy hot pepper transplants at your local garden center, or you can start your own from seed. If you’re interested in trying some of the more exotic varieties, like the ghost pepper, you may need to order seeds online.

For best success, choose varieties that are known to do well in Florida and that are resistant to diseases. Be sure to wait until after the last frost date before you plant your peppers in the spring.

Like most vegetables, hot peppers need full sun in order to produce a good harvest. If you have sandy soil, be sure to add plenty of organic matter to the planting site. If you are planting peppers in containers, use a well-drained potting media.

It's very important that you plant hot peppers away from patios, walkways, or any areas accessible to small children and pets. The same properties that give these peppers their flavorful heat can also cause painful irritation in eyes and on skin.

Fertilize your peppers at the time of planting, and then again two to three times during the growing season. You can also use a controlled-release fertilizer for season-long feeding. Hot peppers are relatively drought tolerant, but you should water them regularly to keep them productive. As for pests, the pepper weevil can be a problem.

Your peppers will be ready to harvest once they’re firm and crisp. Use caution when handling hot peppers.

For more information on growing hot peppers, contact your county Extension office.

Watch the video: Pruning Peppers 101