If you are into spicy foods, then you will have heard of Habanero peppers before. Habanero peppers are used to make a variety of Mexican dishes, and hot, spicy recipes. The Habanero pepper is a fiery, hot chili pepper that was named after the Cuban city La Habana.
The typical Habanero measures between 100,000 and 350,000 Scoville Heat Units and has a fruity, citrusy aroma with a hot and spicy flavor. If you want to use these hot chilis in your cooking, then why not grow your own? With this guide, you can follow our step by step instructions to grow Habanero peppers.
What Are Habaneros?
A Habanero pepper is a very hot and spicy type of chili pepper. These peppers look green when unripe, but turn bright orange and red when ready to eat. Habaneros are used in lots of spicy and flavorful recipes, or are used to make delicious hot sauces.
Habaneros are peppers that are part of the Chinense family of Hot chili peppers. Habanero pepper plants tend to grow much larger than other chilli plants such as Jalapenos or Cayenne peppers. These types of pepper plants need a lot of warm temperatures, bright suns and well draining soil to grow as big as they do, and are native to South America.
The good news for spicy food lovers is that you can grow your own hot Habaneros to use in your homemade recipes! All you need to do is follow our simple guide and instructions to have your own chilis growing in the backyard!
How To Grow Habaneros - The Quick Guide
If you want a quick guide of the Habanero growing process, then you are in luck. You can grow Habanero peppers in just 8 steps, found below. Read on for an in depth guide and instructions on how to grow the perfect Habanero peppers!
- Buy Habanero seeds
- Choose the right soil
- Choose the best fertilizer
- Start off with the seeds indoors
- Prune the Habanero plant
- Transplant outdoors
- Fertilize and water
How To Grow Habaneros - The Easy Guide & Instructions
When you are ready to start growing some spicy Habanero peppers, you will have to follow this step by step guide and our instructions for the best results!
Purchase Habanero Pepper Seeds
The first step in growing your own Habanero peppers is to purchase Habanero pepper seeds. This sounds simple, but there are actually many different varieties that you can choose from, and all will yield different results.
For instance you can try the Burpee Habanero Red Pepper seeds:
Or, mix it up and plant a variety of seeds:
The fun part of growing your own Habanero peppers is that you can play around with it, and plant different seeds, different types of Habaneros and enjoy watching them change colors and shape as they grow and thrive!
If you are new to gardening or growing your own vegetables, then maybe start off with one variety, and see how you go. The good news is that whichever type of Habanero seeds you plant, the growing process will be pretty much the same! Therefore, you can use our guide for any types of Habanero seeds that you pick.
Get The Right Soil
The next step is to pick the right soil. Having the right soil for your plants is vital to their survival, and should not be overlooked! If you are a novice plant gardener, then you will probably want to use a typical potting mixture of soil that you can purchase. Think Miracle-Gro or branded soils that you can purchase anywhere.
However, we do not recommend this. It is best to use two different soils when growing your Habanero peppers from the seed. This is largely due to the fact that one soil is best for starting the seeds off inside, and then when you need to transplant the seeds into pots, you will need a different type of soil.
When changing the plants from an inside environment to an outside environment, they will need different nutrients, which they will have to get from the soil in which they are planted. Luckily, both types of soil that you require are relatively easy to find in stores or online.
During the period where you are starting the seeds, you will want to use a fertilizer free seed starting mix. You will be able to find this at stores such as Home Depot, or you can order some online, such as:
or a Potting Mix like:
The best types of seed starting mixes will have ingredients such as vermiculite, perlite, coco coir, or sphagnum peat moss. These will work in conjunction with each other to create a moisture retaining soil that is highly aerated, which is the perfect environment for growing new seeds. This is because the soil mixture remains moist most of the time, allowing new growths to spout and young root systems to develop.
Although this soil makes it quick and easier for young seedlings to start growing, you will need to keep in mind that you have to start fertilizing as soon as you see seedlings. You should only be using this type of soil for the first three or four weeks of the Habanero growing process. After this period has passed, you will need to move onto a different type of soil if you want your plants to thrive.
When you are growing your Habanero peppers, you will need to switch to soil that is suitable for a more mature growth stage. For this stage, you are better off using an organic all purpose soil, with a sandy texture such as:
In addition to this, you may want to add in some compost. This will create the optimal environment for your Habanero peppers, so adding organic matter and compost into the soil will really make them thrive.
Although soil is important, try not to stress out picking the right one too much! As long as you use soil that is a potting mix suitable for vegetables, you should be fine.
Look For The Right Fertilizer
The next step is fertilizer. This is also very important if you want to see the growth of healthy Habanero peppers. Whilst you may be able to grow a Habanero plant without it, you may not see any actual peppers, so fertilizer is key.
Luckily, we have a simple fertilizer routine for you to follow. The important thing to remember is that Habanero plants need nitrogen, as this will help them grow much larger, healthier and bigger. Keep in mind that once you see that your plant is flowering, you do not need as much nitrogen, and you can switch it to a low nitrogen fertilizer so that the fruits of the plant can thrive.
Similar to the soil section, for fertilizer, you are going to need to utilize two different types. For the early plant growing process, it is best to use an organic mix fertilizer so that you can really get that initial growth. We recommend using something like:
as it is a 11-3-8 organic feed perfect for nurturing your vegetables.
Then, once you get to the point where your peppers are flowering, you can switch to a fish based fertilizer with lower nitrogen to give the Habanero peppers the best chance of forming.
For this stage, we recommend:
When planting your Habanero peppers, it is best to use the first fertilizer for early growth and throughout all seasons, but when it gets to flowering and pod production, you will want to switch to the lower strength fertilizer around mid June.
Start Seed Growth Indoors
To give your Habaneros pepper plants the best chance of survival, you will have to start them off indoors. This means allowing the seeds to start off and grow naturally indoors for a better growing season. It is recommended that you start growing early for a longer growing season. If you start in April or May, by the time your plant yields the peppers may be unripe or underdeveloped.
When to start growing pepper seeds indoors
You can use online applications that will tell you when the best time to start growing plants is in your area. Use this one by entering your location, to find out when you should be planting vegetables.
For the most part, you should be planting your Habaneros peppers indoors about 8 weeks before you are planning on moving them outside. This means that those in the Northern Hemisphere should be planting their Habanero pepper seeds inside around early March time. This gives them plenty of time to become established before transplanting them outside.
If you are in a very warm climate, then it can be much easier and safer to move your pepper plants outside sooner rather than later, as they love warm temperatures.
How to sow pepper seeds indoors
To start your pepper seeds indoors, you will need to follow our steps to give yourself the best chance of success.
First, use a fertilizer free soil as Habanero seeds have enough nutrients and minerals inside of them in order to grow and germinate to about 2 inches tall. Make sure you are using a seed starter soil mix.
With your soil, you should then moisten and mix the soil by hand before planting the seeds. The mix should be sticky enough that it stays together when squeezed, but not wet enough that it is dripping water.
Then, we recommend using bottom-water trays with a small reservoir underneath to keep the soil moist when planting. Look for ones such as these:
to help keep the soil moist and perfect for seedlings! Just remember never to soak the soil or leave it really wet and saturated. You need to only water when it feels dry, and keep it moist, not wet.
Top tips for seed growing indoors
You will want to plant at the depth of about an ⅛ of an inch for the best germination results. If you decide to plant much deeper than this, then you may find that the seeds will never surface.
If you want to grow a few Habanero plants, then you will need to ensure that you plant about 2 seeds per container. This will increase the likelihood of germination. If both end up sprouting, then simply pluck one when they have both reached about an inch tall.
However, you do not have to plant two seeds per container, simply use one in each section if you have a limited number of seeds!
It is vital that you ensure the soil is warm during this process. Habaneros are used to warm climates, and so they will thrive in warmer soil temperatures. It is recommended that you keep the soil temperature at about 80 degrees fahrenheit to 90 degrees fahrenheit during germination. This will help initiate the growing process.
To ensure that all needs are met, try using a heated propagation mat such as:
as this will help keep the growing conditions at the optimal level and consistent for germination.
Habanero seed germination time
It is hard to give an overall germination time, as all seeds can be different. However, Habanero peppers typically germinate within 7-10 days of planting if the environment and conditions are just right. You have to keep them in moist soil, and at 80 degrees fahrenheit for the fastest and most efficient germination.
Utilize Grow Lights
The next step in your Habanero pepper growing journey is to buy a grow light. The best tip we can give you for seed starting is to invest in a good grow light. These are amazing at encouraging seedlings to grow indoors. Sometimes, if a pepper plant does not have enough good lighting, it can become weak, leggy, or it will not flower.
Sometimes, you can try absolutely everything, but if your plants are not getting enough light, they just won’t thrive. Some seedlings simply cannot get enough light from the window, and in the earliest stages of growth, light is essential.
This is why a grow light will be so valuable and useful for the growing process. We recommend trying out clip-on lights. These are easy to use and just clip onto any surface. You can then adjust the lamp itself so that it showers your seedlings in artificial lights.
Our favorites are the:
With these artificial grow lights, it is best to keep them very close to the seedlings, at about 4-6 inches away from the leaves for the best results. However, keep in mind that you should check the instructions on the particular grow light that you purchase, as some can cause burns and will need to be used further away from the foliage.
With a grow light, you can guarantee photosynthesis and help your Habanero plants grow much quicker, without damaging or hurting the peppers.
Prune Your Peppers
Once you start to see some growth, you can start pruning the pepper plants! This basically just means that you have to cut off some bits of the plant in order to shape it, define it and increase its sturdiness. Pruning acts as a guide for how you want your pepper plants to grow!
You should start pruning your pepper plants once they begin to grow about 6 inches tall, as this will help them develop in shape, size and strength.
To prune your pepper plants, simply snip at the central shoot at the base of the node. Then, discard the bit that you cut off, and your pepper plant will recover and grow again in just a few days.
The best way to prune your plants is with sharp pruning shears, so that you get a clean slice. Never use your hands to pull off bits from the plant. We recommend using these pruning shears:
for the best results.
The process of pruning tends to bring better results, and grow healthier plants. This is because some plants are prone to becoming spindly or growing tall and lanky. When you prune your plants, they are more likely to grow outwards rather than upwards, and you will have a stronger, less spindly plant.
Transplant Peppers Outdoors
Once you have pruned your plants, you are ready to move onto the next step: moving them outdoors. This process is called transplanting. This is where you take your Habanero pepper plants, and remove them from the small initial container, and plant them outdoors instead of indoors.
In order to transplant your Habanero pepper plants, you will need to first prepare the new pot in which they are going to reside. Prepare this pot by adding it into pre-moistened potting soil (like the ones we mentioned earlier in the guide) and dig a trench in the soil, large enough for your pepper plant’s whole root system.
Then, carefully place the plant in the new pot, and cover the roots with fresh soil very gently. Make sure that you water the plant as soon as it is in, so the roots have enough moisture to start growing accustomed to their new environment.
When to transplant Habaneros outdoors
For the best results with your Habaneros pepper plants, you will want to move them outdoors as soon as there is no longer a risk of frost for the season. For people in the Northeast of the US, this is usually by the middle of May, but it depends on where you live and your current climate.
However, you should keep in mind that you will need to harden the plants a little before you move them outdoors permanently. Hardening the plants just means that they become a little more acclimatized to the outdoors. Therefore, you will need to expose them to a little wind and direct sunlight before just throwing them in the deep end and planting them outside.
Planting Habaneros in pots
If you choose to transplant your Habaneros peppers into a plant, then make sure that it is big enough and will allow them to grow and flower. For the best yield, you will need to have at least 3 gallons of space so that good, normal sized Habaneros peppers can grow.
Fertilize & Care For Your Plants
Now comes the tricky part. If you do not care for your plants at this stage, all of your hard work can be undone! One of the biggest causes of pepper planting failure is overwatering and underwatering. You really have to hit that sweet spot that will really help the pepper plants thrive and grow.
For the best results, it is better to keep an eye on your Habanero pepper plants, and ensure that they are properly watered during hot weather. However, you should not be watering your pepper plants if the soil is still damp or moist, as this can leave the plants far too wet to survive.
As a tip, you are better off using pots with drainage holes to ensure that you are not drowning your plants in water! The soil should always be moist, but never wet or soaking. All you need to do is stick your finger in the soil to see whether it needs watering or not. If the soil sticks to your finger, then it is still moist. If it doesn’t, then the soil is dry.
After your Habaneros have begun sprouting, you can start fertilizing. The younger the plant is, the less fertilizer it needs, to make sure that you start with a lower strength fertilizer at first. Once your plant reaches about 4-6 inches tall, you can start using normal fertilizer.
The same goes for nitrogen, so once your plant starts flowering, cut back on the nitrogen, and you should be able to grow good peppers. As previously mentioned in the fertilizer section, you will need to switch the fertilizer as the plant flowers if you want to grow peppers.
Harvest Your Habaneros
Finally, once your Habaneros have begun growing and flowering, all you have to do then is harvest them! A Habanero pepper begins as a green color, but once it is ready to be harvested, it will be bright orange in color!
The average growth time of Habaneros from the transplanting stage to the harvesting stage is usually about 90 days, so be prepared to put in the work and be patient whilst your favorite hot and spicy peppers grow!