How to grow habaneros


How to Grow Habanero Peppers

Growing Habanero Pepper Plants Made Easy

The Habanero Pepper is a member of the ‘Chinense’ family of Hot Chilis. Typically the plants grow larger than most other hot Chiles such as the Cayenne or Jalapeno pepper. That is the only nuance…that the plants can grow rather large. I’ve had Habs grow to 7′ tall. But more typically they will average 4′ to 5′ tall. So this just involves some minor tweaks with Staking and fertilizing to meet the needs of a larger Habanero plant.

Check out our Fantastic Selection of Habanero Pepper Seeds

Hot Pepper Growing Tips

When to Plant Chilis

I’ll walk you through some of the basics to growing healthy Habanero plants, and help you avoid pepper diseases and Pepper plant problems.

Habaneros start out kind of finicky as tiny seedlings. With proper care, once they take off, get out of the way. Habaneros grow into sturdy plants that are robust and strong. I get a lot of emails about when to plant peppers. Start them indoors 6 to 10 weeks before the last expected frosts. Habaneros take longer to germinate than smaller pepper plants. It is ALWAYS better to be a little too late to start your seeds than too early. They will catch up in the Garden.

Where to Start

I get a lot of questions on this in regards to growing medium, soil, etc. I recommend buying growing trays with a plastic dome. I prefer planting pellets or peat pots. The small planting pellets are about the diameter of a silver dollar, and are made of compressed peat moss in netting. When you water them they expand. The downside to Peat is it dries quickly…so watch them daily.

I like this system because the plastic dome traps the moisture inside…keeping the air and soil humid and damp as well as heated. Perfect environment for germination.

Just make sure to remove the plastic dome as soon as the first seedlings emerge…because if you don’t the seedlings shoot up quickly making them leggy and they topple over. They can also die from damping off. At this point you do want the soil to dry for at least a full day in between watering.

Your Habanero plants will love you for it. Start to fertilize the Habanero seedlings weekly when your Habaneros have 6 sets of leaves.

TIP: If you don’t have a plastic dome…no problem. Cover your seed trays with Saran wrap. Just remove when watering and then when the Chili Seedlings emerge.


Transplant time is at about 8 sets of leaves…although a little more or less won’t hurt them.

IMPORTANT…introduce your young tender plants to the outdoors slowly and gradually. This process is called ‘Hardening off’.

First day for an hour in indirect sun or shade…then add an hour a day and more sun. The best time to transplant your Habanero pepper plants is at night, or better yet on a cloudy and rainy day. The Sun can be harsh on small seedlings.

Dig a whole several times larger than the root system…maybe the size of a Cantaloupe. Peppers like sand. I recommend digging a healthy small shovel full of sand and another one of well rotted processed Cow Manure into the hole and mix well. If you have soil that is too sandy, add top soil and cow manure.

Tip: Toss a pack or two of matches into the hole fanned out. Your Chili plants will love the sulfur. Sulfur is also a great Fungicide and kills harmful bacteria. This creates a Root Zone that is Habanero plant friendly. It enables the roots to spread out and grow quickly getting nourishment as well.

Also, spray with 2 tbs. of Sulfur mixed with water every two weeks thereafter…this will help keep avoid pepper plant diseases and help keep overall pepper plant problems away. Water the plant extremely well right after transplanting. It helps prevent transplant shock.

In the Garden

At this point your Habanero plants should be off and running. Fertilize every two weeks. I like Fish emulsion…but Miracle Gro will do.

I have some excellent information in my FAQ page to help you out from here. Also, check out my Growing Tips page.

Check out our Fantastic Selection of Habanero Seeds

Fiery Regards,

I have three main reasons why I’d recommend any one to use this plant container. Aside from the fact that this container is very affordable, the attributes below make it a great choice for hosting your habanero plants:

1. Light, unbreakable, and stackable

Comparing with Ceramic or Fiberglass planters, resin clay planters are 30% of the weight of ceramic items and can be well stacked on the pallet.

2. Outdoor use

Resin clay flower pot provides great growing conditions for plants as its natural porosity allows the pot, compost & plant roots to “breathe” whilst assisting in reducing the likelihood of over-watering.

3. 5-year service life

Comparing with plastic planters, these planters are stronger than plastic, and with long service life, it will not break in more than 5 years.

An adequate time-frame to guarantee the growth and development of your plants.

Elegant and unique design will bring real natural effect on the planters. UV resistant, frost resistant which plastic planters don’t have.

Get more information and buy this best-seller planter on amazon.

However, if you’d rather have something unique and exquisite, there’s one right for you.

H Potter Tall Planter Antique Copper that you can use on the Patio, Deck, Indoor, or even Outdoor.

This is a top rated and ultra-high-end planter suitable for adding beauty and class to your habanero gardening.

Why does these containers or planters stand out?

Check out:

1. Handcrafted and tall decorative

H Potter presents the Santa Fe Planter Set.

Stainless steel, hand-crafted, with antique copper finish and hand applied clear-coat lacquer. Each metal planter is unique, no two are alike.

This indoor-outdoor garden planter is solid and durable, yet light weight to move easily.

Sold as a pair to grace your entryway and connect with the outdoors or place outdoors on your patio, deck, or outdoor room.

2. Indoor – outdoor decor

Large Indoor Outdoor flower planter is approximately 13 inches square at widest and 35 inches high.

Small is 11 inches square at widest and 29 inches high.

Its copper finish interplay with the environment as only rich coppery tones can. This vertical planter garden box will make an eye-catching conversation piece wherever it’s placed and it fits in nearly any location.

Sold as a set as shown, these garden planters are unique and sturdy.

3. Vertical planter

H Potter Antique Copper garden planter set includes drainage holes and comes with a planter insert that can be removed for easy planting and care.

Will enhance your garden, patio, deck, entryway or any indoor space.

4. Quality by H potter

H Potter has been designing and manufacturing premium quality garden products for over 20 years.

They do not pretend to be the cheapest, but you get what you pay for.

Packaged well, with stunning craftsmanship and backed by great customer service, their garden products are built to last.

5. Heavy and durable construction

​Solid construction yet light weight to move easily.

Fill with your favorite habanero variety types, easy to change with the seasons and holidays.

You might choose to fill the base of the planter with rocks, bricks, or something heavy for extra stability.

Get more information and buy this top-rated​ planter on amazon.

The container material

There are three main container materials. These are; self-watering, porous and non-porous.

Self-watering serves as a wick that transfers water to the potting media making it wet as required by the plant.

On the other hand the porous one allows water to escape through evaporation while the non-porous does the opposite.

If you choose a porous container material, be prepared to water your habanero plants more frequently.

Type of the material

You can get your plant containers from different types of materials.

For example, Terracotta pots are attractive and affordable. Depending on the required size, can be bulky.

Terracotta containers can easily break if exposed to freezing temperatures or if dropped thus not so durable.

Wooden containers can last several seasons but become quite bulky with age.

Concrete is the most durable as well as the heaviest making concrete containers ideal for permanent spots.

Lastly, containers made from plastic or fibreglass are lightweight and therefore ideal for ease of movement.

Habaneros grows quite large and when conditions are unfavourable it makes sense to move them about – light containers make up for the bulkiness of the plants.

In addition, plastic containers are affordable and durable.

Whichever container you choose, make sure to raise the container on small bricks or blocks to prevent waterlogging beneath.

Alternatively, place them on fabrics that can help in collecting the drained water for recycling.

Before I discuss how you can start planting your habaneros into the containers, which I’ll do in a short while, let me briefly highlight the ideal soil requirement.

Determining the appropriate soil for your containers

Unlike the plants grown directly onto the garden soil, life in container plants can be very hard on the plants.

Therefore, it makes great sense to provide them with the best conditions as much as possible.

For starters, avoid the garden soil as much as possible.

This is because the garden soil is likely to compact due to frequent watering inhibiting root growth. Poor root growth will result into poor plant growth or even death.

Besides, the most garden soil is known to harbour disease-causing organisms that can attack your container habaneros introduce obnoxious weed seeds.

By all means possible, use a well-drained soil mix usually made up of perlite, vermiculite, peat humus, sphagnum moss, aged bark, coco peat, lime, and some wetting agents.

The wetting agent ensures the soil moisture is evenly distributed.

A soil that has the above combination ensures that your habaneros grows as healthy as possible.

Needless to say, you can either make your soil mix or just buy premium ready-made.

Miracle-gro is a good example of affordable and premium potting soil that can save you a lot of hard work trying to keep your container habaneros alive moving forward.

Now that we’ve prepared adequately and ready to start growing habanero peppers in containers, it’s time to begin.

Planting methods and techniques

First things first:

Here are the rules of the game in no specific order.

Rule #1. Avoid overcrowding.

Rule #2. Set your habanero pepper plants at the same height as they were in the nursery or nursery pots.

Rule #3. Don’t burry the stem in the soil.

Rule #4. Don’t leave the roots outside the soil.

Now that the rules are out of the way let’s dive in further;

– Place drainage material in the bottom of the container e.g. stones covering about 10cm (If need be).

– Fill the container with potting media/potting mix/miracle grow, leaving enough space to arrange the plant on the surface.

– Cautiously remove the habanero pepper plants from their original nursery pots, tease out the roots gently and work more potting media around the root ball. Ensure that the top of the root ball is level with the surface of the potting media.

– Gently firm the media around the plant, water well to settle and rid any air pockets and top up with container soil.

– To ensure there’s room for the water to soak in, make sure you leave a gap of about 2.5cm between soil surface and the top of the container.

– Add a layer of mulch to the top of potting soil to help in conserving moisture and suppressing any weeds from emerging. This is also important in maintaining some warmth around the root zone of the habaneros.


You’ve just planted your first habanero plant in a container but before you start to celebrate, let’s look at how to care for your habanero peppers.

Related: How to Make a Fortune Growing Habanero Peppers

How to care for the habanero plants

Like I’ve mentioned earlier, life in containers can be quite tough for habanero plants. Providing the necessary conditions and taking great care could take them a long way.

The necessary conditions include; sufficient light, warmth, water, aeration, and nutrients.

To ensure that those conditions are optimum and remains that way, it’s imperative to use potting compost (a special container compost) as opposed to garden compost.

Furthermore, you need to water your habaneros more frequently to avoid the roots from drying out.

It pays to use an automatic plant watering system with drip to give you a piece of mind that your plants get the required amount of water, when they need it the most.

Habanero pepper requires a lot of high quality water to flourish.

The water consumption ranges 25 to 30 inch of water throughout the growing season, or 2-3inch per week.

This is again the reason why you need to make use of drip technology as well as mulch your crop. Ensure to water or irrigate the peppers infrequently and yet deep enough.

Fertilize as appropriate. Avoid too much nitrogen which encourages a lot of vegetative growth on the expense of the fruit formation.

Generally, when growing the habanero pepper especially in containers, the rule of the thumb, is to apply Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium (NPK) at the rate of 18:18:36 kilograms per acre at planting and 18:18:32 kilograms per acre injected through drip over the growing season.

How to manage the pest on your container plants

Most pepper like any other crops are susceptible to a number of pests.

The most common for habaneros is the blossom end rot caused by calcium deficiency.

To prevent blossom end rot to become a problem, ensure that you minimize deep watering during the flowering period.

Insects are equally notorious and it’s important to make use of sticky traps and insect nets in your container habanero garden to keep them at bay.

Other common diseases include bacterial leaf spot, phytophthora blight, anthracnose fruit rot, bacterial soft rot and viruses such as tobacco mosaic virus and potato virus.

You can prevent these diseases by avoiding overhead irrigation, using resistant varieties, ensuring the soil is properly aerated or spray with horticultural soap.


You’ve just been reading about proven tips for growing habanero peppers in containers.

You’ve learnt the benefits of growing habanero peppers in containers, how to choose the right containers, determining the appropriate soil for your containers, habanero planting methods and techniques, and finally how to care for them.

It’s my hope that this is finally what you needed to take action. And by the way, anybody can do this!

Back to you.

I’d love to hear how it goes with you and any lessons you have for us too.

Habanero Plant – How To Grow Habanero Pepper

Gardeners with a taste for spicy food should try to grow one of the hottest peppers, the habanero. Growing habanero peppers requires bright sun, warm temperatures and well-drained soil. These small, green to red peppers measure 100,000 to 445,000 on the Scoville scale, which is a method of measuring the levels of capsicum, or spice, in peppers.

The habanero plant grows best when purchased or started indoors in most regions of the United States. Plant them outside after the danger of any frost has passed. Follow some tips on how to grow habanero pepper for a hot and spicy crop that is tasty fresh, grilled, dried or canned.

The Habanero Plant

Habanero plants have oval, simple leaves with deep glossy green color. The plants are generally bushy and just slightly taller than they are wide. Growing habanero peppers requires a long growing season.

As a warm season crop, habanero care may include plastic mulch to help keep soil warm and cloches or row covers at the start of the season. Prior to planting, incorporate a large amount of organic material to the soil to increase fertility and drainage. With proper care, the plants will produce slightly

curved green or even red fruits, filled with seeds and covered in waxy, glossy skin.

Growing Habanero Peppers

Plant seeds in the garden two weeks before the last frost. Transplants grown indoors will need eight to 10 weeks of growing time before planting out. In areas with less than 120 growing days, the peppers can be started earlier and grown inside until transplant time. Sow seeds ½ inch deep and 18 inches apart in the garden in a full sun location. Seeds are small so it is necessary to thin seedlings when growing habanero peppers.

Unless your home is in an arid sub-tropical state, your habanero seeds are best started inside and then transplanted outside after soils warm. Move seedlings outside when they have at least six mature leaves. Plant them 18 inches apart and cut holes in black plastic mulch to fit around the plants. This reduces competitive weeds and keeps soil warm while it also conserves water.

Habanero Care

Two important growing tips for habanero peppers are infrequent but deep watering. Row covers are often necessary with habanero care to avoid sunscald and to keep peppers from drying out and cracking.

Fertilize the plants with ¼ tablespoon of nitrogen per plant when habanero plants are at least six weeks old. Apply it as a side dressing six inches from the plants and work it into the soil.

Watch for problems such as insects or blossom rot. Most insects are easy to control with blasts of water to remove them or insecticidal soap. Blossom end rot is caused by calcium deficiency and is minimized by deep watering during the bloom period. Fungal diseases are reduced by limiting overhead watering.

Harvesting Habanero Plants

Pick peppers when they are firm and green or wait until the end of the season when they color red. The fruit is equally good at either color but all fruits must be removed from the plant before cool temperatures arrive in fall.

Store them in a cool location for up to three weeks or halve them and dry them completely. You can also roast and freeze the peppers or make pickled peppers for longer preservation.

Chili Pepper Care: Growing Chili Pepper Plants In The Garden

You may be surprised to learn that growing hot peppers such as jalapeno, cayenne, or ancho didn’t originate in Asian countries. The chili pepper, so often associated with Thai, Chinese and Indian cuisine, hails from Mexico. This spicy member of the pepper family has gained worldwide popularity for the pungent sensations it infuses into the foods we love to eat.

How to Grow Chili Peppers

Growing chili pepper plants is similar to growing bell peppers. All peppers grow best in warm soil when the ambient temperature remains above 50 degrees F. (10 C.). Exposure to cooler temperatures inhibit flower production and impedes proper fruit symmetry.

As many climates don’t afford a sufficient growing season to direct-seed peppers into the garden, starting chili peppers indoors or purchasing seedlings is often recommended. Start chili pepper plants 6 to 8 weeks prior to the last frost date. Sow seeds ¼ inch (6 mm.) deep in a quality seed-starting mix or use soil-based pellets.

Place seedling trays in a warm location. Many varieties of chili peppers sprout within 7 to 10

days, but hot peppers can be more difficult to germinate than bell types. Once germinated, provide plenty of light and keep the soil evenly moist. Old seed and moist, cold soil can cause damping off in chili seedlings.

Chili Pepper Care

When growing chili pepper plants indoors, regular fertilization and repotting can be beneficial in producing larger, healthier transplants. Aphids can also be problematic at this stage. Using an insecticidal spray can keep these pesky insects from damaging young plants.

After danger of frost, transplant chili peppers into a sunny area of the garden. Ideally, chili peppers perform best when nighttime temps remain between 60 and 70 degrees F. (16-21 C.) and daytime temperatures that maintain around 70 to 80 degrees F. (21-27 C.).

Choose a location with organic rich soil and good drainage. Space chili pepper plants 18 to 36 inches (46 to 92 cm.) apart in rows which are 24 to 36 inches (61 to 92 cm.) apart. Placing peppers closer provides more support for neighboring peppers, but requires more available nutrients for good yields. When transplanting, chili pepper plants can be buried to a depth equaling one third of their stem.

When to Pick Chili Peppers

Many varieties of chili peppers take 75 days or more to mature. Hot weather and drier soil can increase the heat of chili peppers. As peppers approach ripeness, allow soil to dry out between watering. For the most heat, be sure to harvest chili peppers at their peak of ripeness. This can be determined by changes in the color of the pepper and is different for each variety.

Additional Tips When Growing Hot Peppers

  • Use row markers when growing hot peppers to identify varieties and distinguish hot from sweet peppers.
  • To help prevent contact or accidental ingestion of hot peppers, avoid growing chili pepper plants near areas where small children and pets play.
  • Use gloves when picking, handling and cutting hot peppers. Avoid touching eyes or sensitive skin with contaminated gloves.

by Abbie Carrier

Ready to grow your own habaneros? Gardeners with a serious love of spice should consider planting and growing habanero peppers. These peppers can measure between 100,000 to 450,000 on the Scoville scale, the scale used to measure capsaicin, the spice in peppers. As one of the hottest chili peppers around, these small red or green peppers can add both some spice and color to any garden.

While habaneros can grow larger than many chili peppers, such as jalapenos and cayenne, they can start off finicky as seedlings. Don’t worry, though—once established, these perennials will continue to produce for years to come. Here’s how to care for habanero pepper plants.

How to Get Habanero Peppers Started

The majority of the United States does not have the adequate climate to grow habaneros all year long. Most plants will need to be started indoors as seeds, but getting an adequate temperature and the right amount of light to these indoor seedlings can be tough, but once the environment for the peppers is right, these peppers will take off.

If starting a seedling indoors, plant the seeds six to 10 weeks before the last frost in your area. Make sure that the growing plants are situated in a place where they will receive a large amount of sunshine. If artificial lighting is being used, the peppers will need at least 16 hours of light a day.

The container the seeds are planted in will need good drainage. Overwatering a habanero plant can change the taste of any peppers the plant produces. Overwatering can lead to overly bitter peppers, so make sure to only water the baby pepper plants when the soil is dry. The seedlings will most likely need to be transplanted a couple times. Once there are six to eight leaves on the plants, they should be separated and put into larger containers.

Once the threat of a frost has passed, a seedling will need time to get used to being outdoors before it is moved there permanently. The plants should be placed in direct sunlight for only one hour on their first day outdoors. Slowly increase the amount of time the plants spend outside every day.

Once the plants are spending a majority of the time outside, they can be planted into an area with strong morning sun and slightly acidic oil. The transplanted peppers should be placed 18 inches apart, and holes should be cut in black plastic mulch to fit around the plant. This will help keep competing weeds away while keeping the soil around the plant warm.

If the plants are purchased already grown instead of cultivated from seedlings, the procedure for getting them settled in garden beds is similar. It is important that the habanero plants, no matter their origin, are planted outside only after there is no chance of frost. An underdeveloped habanero plant that has not been given time to root will be killed immediately once frost temperatures hit. These plants love a warm climate.

How to Keep a Habanero Plant Healthy

The most important care tip for habaneros is to make sure they do not get too much water. Overwatering can lead to blossom end rot and other fungal diseases. Make sure to water the plants infrequently but deeply. Wait to water habaneros until the soil around them is completely dry.

If the ends of the peppers start to rot, the plant is suffering from blossom end rot. This disease is caused by a calcium deficiency and can be treated by limiting the amount of overhead watering you give the plant. To counteract the rot, water deeply—not from overhead—during the blossoming period. Its best to avoid overhead watering to begin with, no matter the circumstances. While habaneros are not especially susceptible to fungal infections, they can fall prey to them, so avoiding overhead watering can help your plants avoid fungus.

While these plants do enjoy warmth and sunshine, like all peppers, they can suffer from sunscald. If the peppers start to split, that’s is a sign of sunscald. Usually, a plant’s foliage will protect it from the direct sunlight that can cause this problem, but habaneros are still vulnerable. The cracking of the fruit can allow bacteria or fungi into the pepper. If this happens, remove them before they become soft, and they should still be okay to use. If you have concerns, do not hesitate to throw any questionable peppers away.

Habanero plants don’t usually have any problems producing a bountiful yield, so a lack of harvest should not be a major concern. If your peppers are falling prey to sunscald, row covers will help keep the sun at a more manageable level for the plant.

There are not any pests that are known to infest habaneros, but gardeners should still watch for insect problems. If an insect looks like it might be problematic, a good blast from a hose is usually all that is needed to remove them. A mild insecticidal soup can also be applied if you are especially concerned about pests.

Habaneros should start getting fertilizer at six weeks old. One fourth of a cup of nitrogen per plant every two weeks should be about all the fertilizer these plants need. Start about six inches away from the plants, and slowly work the fertilizer into the soil.

What to Do With a Producing Habanero Plant

Habanero peppers can really be picked at any time, regardless of color. When the fruits are green, they are not as spicy. Waiting until later in the growing season, when the plants are red or orange, will guarantee a spicier pepper. Allowing the peppers to mature allows to them to gain spice. The fruit is good no matter what color it is when picked, but make sure that all peppers are removed from the plants before cooler temperatures arrive.

These peppers can be stored in a cool dry place for up to three weeks, but you may choose to halve and dry them. Alternatively, you can roast and freeze or pickle them. Habaneros are a versatile pepper that can be used in any way a gardener or chef can think of in the kitchen.

While habanero pepper plants can be finicky to get started, the payoff is incredible. These high-producing plants are easy to care for, yet they can add a pop of color to any garden. They don’t easily fall prey to insects and pests, though they can be susceptible to easily corrected issues, such as blossom end rot or sunscalding. If you have any doubts about growing habaneros in your area, a local nursery or garden center will be able to answer any questions this article hasn’t addressed.

Want to learn more about growing habanero pepper plants?

Gardening Know How covers Growing Habanero PeppersGardening Know How covers Pepper SunscaldHabanero Madness covers Growing Habanero PeppersHabanero Madness covers Growing Habanero Peppers from SeedHort Zone covers Growing Habanero Peppers in ContainersPepper Scale covers Growing Habanero Peppers: A Steady Supply Of Homegrown HeatPepper Joe covers How to Grow Habanero Peppers

So you must be into spicy food. You’re going to fit in just fine here at PepperGeek. We love hot peppers more than (almost) anything! In this article, I’m going to share our guide on how to grow Habaneros. We will cover lots of tips and secrets we’ve learned to make sure you get the most peppers off of every plant, and the highest heat level possible!

PepperGeek participates in various affiliate programs. This means that links contained in this article may provide us a commission should you decide to make a purchase on the linked website.

Habaneros are prolific pepper producing plants, often growing dozens of peppers per plant. They are also some of the spiciest peppers that most people can tolerate and enjoy, with lots of flavor. You’re going to love having fresh-picked Habanero peppers at home. Let’s get started growing Habaneros!

Skip Ahead:

  • Buying Seeds
  • Choosing Soil
  • Choosing Fertilizer
  • Starting Seeds Indoors
  • Pruning Plants
  • Transplanting Outdoors
  • Fertilizing & Watering
  • Harvesting

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1. Buy Habanero Pepper Seeds

If you already have seeds you can skip to the next step. If not, consider the options before you pick your pepper variety. Different plants will yield very different results!

Try Different Habanero Peppers Types

  • Looking for the classic Habanero? Grow these bad boys
  • Looking for more heat? Grow the Red Savina Habanero
  • Looking for an interesting color? Try growing the Chocolate Habanero
  • Looking for something weird? Check out the huge Habanero selection at

The main takeaway here should be that there are a lot of different types of Habanero peppers. It can be fun to experiment with different varieties and watch them change colors and shape as they grow. If you’re like us, you’ll grow as many as you can fit in the garden! Or, perhaps more sensibly, you’ll try 2 or 3 types.

Either way, the growing process will be identical. So rest assured, regardless of which seed type you buy, this growing guide for Habaneros will work perfectly!

2. Choose The Right Soil

Most growers will need to purchase two types of soil. One for starting the seeds inside, and another for the outdoors. These two types of soil differ in both nutrient content and texture/aeration qualities. Both are also abundantly available at home gardening stores.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Soil For Starting Seeds

When starting seeds, you need a fertilizer-free soil. These are marketed as ‘seed starter’ soil mixes and are available at Lowes or Home Depot. You can also order some online for pretty cheap at Amazon.

Soil For Mature Growth Stage

This is more of a mixed bag (no pun intended). There are lots and lots of gardening soils to choose from. We recommend using organic soil like this one, with a loamy texture and makeup. We will be using our own fertilizer, so the soil itself does not need to have slow-release fertilizer pellets like Miracle-Gro. However, if you already have some of this soil, it will work just fine.

Don’t stress too much about this! While soil is a critical component of gardening success, if you buy soil at Home Depot and it says “Suitable For Vegetables” on it, you’re going to be okay.

3. Get The Right Fertilizer

Fertilizer is another daunting topic. There are many all-purpose fertilizers made to grow any and all vegetables. These will work fine to grow healthy-looking plants, but we want to make sure we actually get peppers!

To ensure our plants grow lots of peppers, we want a fertilizer that doesn’t have too much nitrogen. This is especially important once the flowers have begun sprouting.

We use two fertilizers throughout the growing season. During early plant growth, we use a 3-4-4 mix fertilizer for strong leafy growth. Later, we switch to a lower nitrogen, fish-based fertilizer to allow the Habanero pepper pods to form.

The timing of this is slightly subjective, but we typically start fertilizing around mid-March and then switch to the lower-nitrogen fertilizer around mid-June.

See our early growth fertilizer suggestion:

See our later growth fertilizer suggestion:

If you want to keep it to one fertilizer, use the early growth, 3-4-4 (or a 5-5-5) all season and lower the frequency of fertilizing around mid-June by half. This will allow the plants to focus more energy on pod production instead of producing more leaves.

4. Start Seeds Indoors

Starting seeds early allows your Habaneros, which grow naturally near the equator, to have a longer growing season. Waiting until April or May to start pepper seeds would result in underdeveloped plants, lower yields, and unripe peppers come harvest time.

When To Start Habaneros Indoors

Use this planting tool to determine when you should be planting pepper seeds indoors. This tool allows you to provide a postal code to determine the approximate date that you should sow seeds indoors. For Northern hemisphere gardeners, early to mid-February is typically the time of year to start planting Habanero pepper seeds inside. This will depend mostly on your exact latitude, but you’ll most likely want to start in February. If you live in a warmer climate, you may move your plants outside earlier.

How To Sow Pepper Seeds Indoors

Planting seeds is pretty simple. However, there are a few steps that should be taken to give the seeds the best possibility of success.

Seed Starting Tips:

  1. Use fertilizer-free soil.

    Seeds contain enough nutrients to germinate and grow to about 1-2 inch tall plants. The soil you use for planting seeds should be ‘seed starter mix’ of some sort. Here is our recommendation on Amazon.

  2. Pre-moisten soil.

    Before planting, thoroughly moisten and mix your seed starter soil by hand. This will enhance the soil’s ability to absorb water in the future.

  3. Use bottom-water trays.

    The best method to water seedlings is to bottom-water. This means that you are filling a reservoir in which the seed trays are submerged. The water is then absorbed from the bottom through holes in the containers, keeping the soil moist. These trays are cheap and re-usable. We use these exact trays from Amazon – they are sturdy and compact and come with raised humidity lids for easy seed starting. Highly recommended!
    Watering frequency will depend on the humidity of your environment. Check the surface moisture of your seed trays and water if the soil feels dry. Keep the soil moist, not soaked!

  4. Plant 2 seeds per container.

    If you’re just growing a few plants, you want to make sure that your seeds sprout. By planting 2 seeds per container, you increase the chances of successful germination. If both seeds sprout, you simply pluck away one of them when they reach 1 inch in height.
    Tip: If you have limited seed quantity and want to conserve seeds, you can ignore this step. Just plant one seed per container to avoid wasting seeds.

  5. Keep the soil warm.

    During germination, the soil temperature should be at 80-90F degrees during the day and around 70-75F degrees at night. Peppers come from very warm climates, and the heat significantly helps initiate germination. Using a heated propagation mat and a thermometer is ideal to keep conditions consistent. However, if your indoor temperatures already satisfy these ranges, no need to worry!
    Note: This is especially useful when growing stubborn seeds, or older seeds that have been dormant longer. Most Habanero seeds germinate without issue.

  6. Consider lighting.

    While window light is good, to get the most out of your plants, you’ll want some sort of lighting setup. This can be as simple as a clip-on plant light for less than $20.

Use Grow Lights If Possible!

We highly recommend using a grow light of some kind to start pepper seedlings indoors. Without adequate lighting, young pepper plants may become tall and lanky, with weak and leggy stems. Our habaneros live the first 3.5 months of their lives indoors, and window sunlight alone would not be enough. This stage of growth is critical for determining the hardiness of your plant throughout the whole growing season.

By introducing some artificial light, you can ensure the young seedlings photosynthesize as much as possible. You will notice considerably healthier-looking plants when using a grow light vs using natural window light.

For an affordable option, try one of these clip-on lights from Amazon.

For a more robust light, we like this unit on Amazon.

For the most efficient light with no noise, spring for one of these on Amazon.

If you choose one of these lights, keep the light very close to your plants when they are on, about 4-6 inches away from the leaves. If you use a stronger light that emits more heat, you may need to keep it farther from your pepper seedlings to avoid burning. This will ensure maximum photosynthesis without damaging the plants.

5. Prune To Help Increase Yield

We wrote a dedicated article all about pruning here. Check it out for a complete guide.

Pruning is basically snipping off portions of your plant to influence its shape and sturdiness. Pruning should usually be done when pepper plants are young, around 6 inches tall. It is not necessary, but can often help plants develop much stronger stems and a bushier, fuller shape.

To prune, simply snip the central shoot or shoots at the base of the node. This technique is also called ‘topping’ the plant because you are taking the top of the plant off. Discard the cutting and watch as the habanero plant grows new shoots within just a few days! This process encourages the plant to grow outward rather than tall and lanky.

Note: Use sharp scissors when pruning (like these precise pruning sheers), not your fingers. You want to get a clean slice across the stem without crushing it.

6. Transplant Habaneros Outdoors

Transplanting is when the plant is moved from a smaller container to a larger container. This usually takes place twice during growth, but can also be done just once if the seedlings are started in larger containers (like Solo cups or small garden pots).

To transplant, prepare the new pot with plenty of moistened potting soil, dig out a trench deep enough to fit your plant’s entire root system, and carefully move the entire plant to the new pot. Then, cover the root system with fresh soil and compact gently. Water immediately to ensure the roots have plenty of moisture.

When To Transplant Outdoors

Move your plants outdoors as soon as the risk of frost is gone for the season. For us in the Northeast US, this means around May 1st. Use this tool to find out the last frost date for your location.

Once you are ready to transition, be sure you harden your plants off before moving outdoors 100%. This is the process of gradually getting your plants used to the outdoor climate (wind, direct sunlight, etc.). Learn more about hardening off plants in our guide here.

7. Fertilize & Water Regularly

Watering Habaneros

This is one of the most common causes of plant problems. Over-watering or under-watering can cause significant stress to habanero plants.

Watering Tips:

  • Use pots or a garden plot with plenty of drainage
  • Watch for dry or hot weather and water more often
  • Don’t water if the soil is already damp at the surface

Under-watering can cause yellowing leaves

Soil wants to be moist, but not soaked. A simple check with your finger will be enough to test moisture levels. As you grow more plants, you will develop a keen eye for a dried-out plant, and for one that doesn’t need watering.

Tip: Allowing your Habanero plants to become dry between watering will actually produce hotter peppers. This is called ‘stressing’ the plants and is used by professional growers! But be careful not to over-stress them and cause damage.

Fertilizing & Keeping Nitrogen In Check

Once your plants are 4 or 5 inches tall, fertilizing can begin. Younger plants may require less fertilizer, but we typically follow the instructions on our fertilizer.

Too much Nitrogen can be a bad thing for Habanero plants. Once flowers begin to develop, Nitrogen levels should be brought down to ensure the plants can produce lots of healthy peppers. Too much, and the flowers may begin to fall off! Growing Habaneros is all about growing peppers, not about growing a bush.

As mentioned before, we recommend starting with this fertilizer, and switching to this fertilizer when the plants begin to flower. If you don’t want to use two, just stick with the first one all season and reduce to half-strength when the plants begin flowering.

8. Harvest & Prune Again

Harvesting Habaneros is easy. The clearest sign of a ripe Habanero is the bright orange color. They turn from green to orange in most cases, but if you grow any of the other varieties of Habanero, you may be looking for a different color.

How long until Habaneros are ripe?

The typical grow time from seedling to harvest for Habaneros is around 90 days or longer. The hotter the pepper, the longer the growing season typically takes. It’s no wonder the Habanero takes so long to grow, given its 250,000+ SHU Scoville rating!

Tip: When the risk of frost is approaching at the end of the season, you can prune away any unnecessary branches to encourage ripening of any remaining peppers.

9. Get Ready For Next Year!

Success! With your fiery hot peppers ready for picking, all that is left to do is use them!

  • Try our methods of preserving peppers here
  • Learn how to save your Habanero seeds for planting next year here

I hope you have a bountiful harvest of fresh Habaneros this year. Good luck, and feel free to share any tips or suggestions on how to grow Habaneros in the comments below!


One of the original PepperGeeks! When Calvin isn’t gardening or learning more about peppers, he might be traveling new places or playing some music.


With about five times the heat of jalapenos, habanero peppers pack a punch when you add them to salsa, relishes or other recipes. The Joy of Cooking recommends wearing plastic gloves when you work with fresh habanero peppers to protect your hands from the fiery capsaicin inside the peppers and seeds. Cut a habanero pepper carefully and use as much or as little as you desire in your recipe to create eye-opening taste.

Put plastic gloves on your hands before touching the habanero peppers, and wear them until you finish working with the peppers.

Place habanero peppers into colander. Wash the peppers under cool running water. Transfer peppers to cutting board.

Cut tops off habanero peppers with chef’s knife and discard stems. Cut peppers in half lengthwise.

Remove the seeds if you want to weaken some of the heat, and discard. Leave the seeds intact if you want intense heat.

Cut the pepper halves into 1/4-inch-wide strips. Cut each strip into tiny pieces to finish chopping the peppers.

Transfer the chopped peppers to the bowl and add them to your recipe.

Place the knife and the cutting board into the sink. Wash with dishwashing soap, using dishcloth to scrub all surfaces well. Rinse items in warm water.


Perform all cleanup work before removing the gloves because your cooking items have residual capsaicin oils on them. Do not remove the gloves until you finish all cleanup tasks.

Cooking With Habanero Peppers: 5 Must-Follow Rules


Habanero peppers are growing fast in popularity. You can now often find them right across from jalapeño peppers on grocery store shelves. But handling a wickedly hot habanero is a totally different experience than handling a barely medium-heat jalapeño. If you don’t follow some simple rules when cooking with habanero peppers, you could be in for a world of unexpected pain. Here are our 5 must-follow rules to keep you happy and pain-free in the kitchen.

Wear food handling gloves when cooking with habanero peppers.

This is true, really, for handling any hot peppers, but especially those at the top end of the pepper scale. Their level of capsaicin, the compound behind chili peppers that acts as an irritant, is much higher than jalapeños. If you work with these chilies gloveless, it’s a guarantee that you’re in for a nasty case of chili burn, both on your fingers and anywhere you rub.

Careful what you touch even when wearing gloves.

The gloves are going to protect your fingers, but touching any part of your body with the gloves after you’ve handled habaneros can again lead to severe chili burn. Most especially – resist any urge to rub your eyes, even with what you think is a clean part of your gloved hand. Wait until you’ve removed your gloves and washed your hands thoroughly.

Know how to treat chili burn before you start cooking with habanero peppers.

Believe us, you don’t want to be scrambling for the antidote after the fact. The pain of chili burn can feel pretty severe, and the last thing you want to do is be scrambling for your mobile device to find the answer, contaminating everything with habanero oils in the process. Read our article on how to stop chili burn, it gives you lots of ways to stop the irritation. Spoiler: Milk is good to have at hand.

A little goes a long way. Don’t over-use.

This is a huge difference between mild and medium hot peppers and the hots and super-hots of the Scoville scale. In the world of the jalapeño, it’s common to use handfuls of these chilies to flavor a dish. You don’t need that in the world of the habanero. A single chili – in fact even slivers of the chili – may be enough heat for your dish. The best plan is to under-use and then add to taste. Otherwise, the dish may be so scorching that it’s near impossible to eat except for extreme food lovers.

Know how to reduce habanero heat for when the spiciness is too much.

Much of the heat contained in chili peppers is found in the interior membrane and seeds. Sure the pepper’s skin and walls contain a wallop as well, but not nearly as much as the pepper’s insides. If you’re finding that habanero peppers are just too much for you, clear out the interior of the pepper completely and cook with only the shell. You’ll still get the pepper’s delicious flavors, but a lot less of the pepper’s intensity.

10 Ways to Use a Large Habanero Pepper Harvest

If you have an explosion of habanero peppers this year, here are several ways to use up as many of those habaneros as possible.

I receive a lot of emails asking what chili pepper growers can do with an abundance of very specific chili peppers. One in particular is the wonderful habanero pepper. Habanero pepper plants are typically very productive, and a single plant can inundate some people with a huge harvest.

I think this is great thing! The issue with habaneros, though, is that they can be pretty HOT for some people. They can find it difficult to use up as many as they receive.

Here are some ideas to help you use up that abundant habanero pepper harvest this year, including some techniques and recipes that I love.

1. Freeze Your Habanero Peppers

Freezing your habanero peppers is the easiest way to preserve them. Clean, dry and wrap them in sealable baggies or vacuum seal them if you plan to keep them longer. Pluck them from the freezer when you’re ready to cook with them.

See How to Freeze Chili Peppers

2. Pickle Your Habanero Peppers

Pickling a load of sliced habanero peppers will keep them for a long time. You can do the refrigerator pickled peppers method, or you can process them and jar them for longer keeping. I like to keep them in the fridge and pluck some out to top pretty much anything for a bit of spiciness.

See How to Pickle Chili Peppers

3. Dehydration – Drying Your Habanero Peppers

The Spicy Dehydrator Cookbook

I use a dehydrator to make powders every year, but you can use the oven method. I even wrote a cookbook that details the subject – “The Spicy Dehydrator Cookbook“. Once you dehydrate them, you can crush them into powders and make your own rubs or seasonings out of them. They last a long time this way.

Check out how to dehydrate chili peppers or my Spicy Dehydrator Cookbook.

4. Chili Paste

Habanero Chili Paste

Chili pastes are simple to make and can be incorporated into various sauces or other recipes to liven things up. They can also be used as simple spreads over toasts or as toppings to various dishes. A basic paste consists of peppers, oil, garlic, seasonings and herbs that are processed into a thick paste-like consistency.

Here is one superhot one that you can use as a springboard: Habanero Chili Paste Recipe.

See how to make fresh chili paste.

5. Habanero Hot Sauce

Garlic-Habanero Hot Sauce Recipe

This hot sauce is super easy to make and you can drizzle it over anything. A spicy hot sauce recipe made with fiery roasted habanero peppers and plenty of garlic, ideal for dousing many of your favorite foods.

Check out my Garlic-Habanero Hot Sauce Recipe.

7. Mango-Habanero Hot Sauce

Caribbean-Style Mango-Habanero Hot Sauce – Recipe

This Caribbean style hot sauce brings mango into the mix for a fruity, spicy hot sauce you can drizzle over many dishes. It goes particularly well with fish or grilled chicken.

Get the Caribbean Style Mango-Habanero Hot Sauce Recipe. Or try this alternative Mango-Habanero Hot Sauce Recipe.

7. Habanero Salsa

Habanero Salsa Recipe

This homemade habanero salsa recipe is fiery in all the right ways, made with habanero peppers, tomatoes, onion, garlic, red wine vinegar, a bit of lime juice, and a few select seasonings. Break out the chips for some habanero heaven.

Get the Habanero Salsa Recipe here.

8. Xni-Pec – Yucatan Habanero Salsa

Xni-Pec (Dog’s Nose) – Habanero Salsa – Recipe

Xni-Pec is a Yucatan salsa made with fresh habanero peppers, tomato, onion, sour orange juice and more. It packs some heat, and as the name implies, might make you sweat like a dog’s nose.

Get my recipe here for Xni-Pec – Yucatan Habanero Salsa Recipe here.

9. Habanero Pepper Jam

Habanero Pepper Jam – Recipe

A recipe for sweet and spicy habanero pepper jam made with plenty of habanero peppers. Use it as you would use any other jelly or jam, by spreading it over cream cheese on toast, over bread for sweeter sandwiches, but it is also great over fish. I like to serve it over salmon or white fish. Spoon it when the fish is hot and it will melt over a bit. No need for a sauce. It also makes for a great gift.

Get my Habanero Pepper Jam Recipe here.

10. Give some away

What better way to make friends than giving them the gift of habanero peppers? If you don’t want to simply hand out your habanero peppers, give out salsas or fun sauces. Everyone will love you.

Resources and Related Links

  • The Spicy Dehydrator Cookbook – Written by Mike Hultquist
  • 10 Ways to Use a Huge Jalapeno Harvest
  • Learn More about the Habanero Pepper
  • How Hot is a Habanero Pepper?
  • Jalapeno Vs. Habanero
  • Habanero Pepper Recipes and More

Feel free to contact me for other ideas. Always happy to help! Enjoy your habanero peppers!


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