Heirloom Expert: How to Grow Really Hot Peppers

Here are some tricks from our very own Doug Oster on how to grow hot peppers!


| Summer 2014



Pepper sprouts

Photo by Fotolia/astrobobo

Is there a trick to growing really hot peppers?

If you grow your plants in compost: yes, eating them! It’s too late to think about seed starting, but they need to be sown early in the season; some won’t sprout for a month and will benefit from a heating mat made especially for seed germination. Since that ship has sailed, get the biggest plants you can find and give them a sunny, hot location.

I’ve got a friend who puts three plants in 8-inch pots and fertilizes them weekly with fish emulsion. It doesn’t make sense — conventional wisdom would say one plant per container. He grows them on his driveway in front of a brick wall and gets more peppers than he can use. Once he watched as a squirrel grabbed a hot pepper and started running. Ten feet later the squirrel spit out the fiery surprise, spun around a couple of times and kept running.

– Doug Oster, contributing editor


Doug is the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Backyard Gardener and co-host of The Organic Gardeners radio program on KDKA.





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