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Capsicum annuum, C. frutescens, C. chinense, C. pubescens, C. baccatum

Sustainable Ewe favourites:

Bhut Jolokia, Thai Super, Cayenne

Quick Reference

Optimum Soil Temperature 20-25
Days to Germination 8-20
Days to Harvest 80 days from transplant
Direct Sow or Transplant Transplant
Distance Apart 60cm
Soil pH 6.0-6.5
Annual/Biennial /Perennial  Perennial though grown as an Annual


Chillies have been eaten since 7500 BCE.  They were domesticated in Mexico, some 6000 years ago.   Incas, Mayans, Aztecs used the humble chilli as a form of currency.

Introduced to the rest of the world by Christopher Columbus.  It was then that they became known as ‘peppers’ as due to their spicy flavour similar to black pepper.

For the first 100 years after they were introduced in Japan in the 1600’s they were not eaten.  Instead they would put chillies in their socks to keep their toes warm.

Capsicum annum:  bell, wax, cayenne, jalapenos, chiltepin

Capsicum frutescens:  malagueta, tabassco, Thai, piri piri, Malawian Kambuzi

Capsicum chinense: naga, habanero, Datil, scotch bonnet

Capsicum pubescens:  rocoto

Capsicum baccatum:  aji peppers


Chillies prefer a rich fertile soil.  They grow best in hot humid conditions so keeping the soil moist (but not soaked) is a must.  Frost tender, so wait until the last frosts before planting in spring.

As they are quite shallow rooted they are ideal for container growing.

Staking is recommended.

Storing harvested Chilli:  Can be frozen for up to 3 months (fair taste), Canning will last 12 months (good taste), Dried provides excellent taste and will last 12 months.  Pickling will provide the longest shelf life and flavour.

Seed Saving:   Self pollinating though insects will pollinate.  Isolation distance between varieties of 30m. 10 plants are required for genetic diversity.

Seed Life:  Four years


Keep weed free.

When harvesting ALWAYS cut the fruit off the plants.  Never pull.

Fun Facts

Click to enlarge

The Scoville scale was designed in 1912 by Wilbur L Scoville, a pharmacist and is a measurement of the pungency (spicy heat) of chilli peppers, or other spicy foods, as reported in Scoville heat units (SHU), a function of capsaicin concentration.  Capsaicin and related compounds capsaicinoids are what gives chilli it’s heat.  There is a higher concentration of capsaicin in the pith near the top of the fruit.

Notable hot chillies:  Pepper X (3.18 SHU), Dragons Breath (2.4 SHU), Carolina Reaper (2.2 SHU), Bhut jolokia (1.58 SHU)

Technically, chilli is a berry

Water stressed peppers usually produce stronger pods as the concentration of capsaicin increases.

A jalapeno with visible stripes on he outside it will be hotter.

Birds do not have the same sensitivity to capsacin, only mammals.  In fact chilli is often planted as a buffer crop to keep elephants out of crops.  As elephants have a large and highly sensitive olfactory system the smell of chilli causes them discomfort.

Good source of B6.  Red chillies are high in Vitamin C, A and K

Said to reduce blood pressure and prevent cardiovascular disease.  Clears nasal congestion.  Boosts immunity.

There are only 40 calories in 100 grams of chilli

They aid in burning calories by raising the bodies core temperature during digestion.   And produce endorphins and dopamine as the brain interprets the burn as pain.

There are more than 400 varieties in the world.   Peru is considered to have the highest cultivated chilli diversity.

China is the largest producer of green chilli

International Chilli Day is the 4th Thursday of February

Chilli Roulette:  Japanese Shishito Pepper and Spaish Padron Pepper are both mild tasting peppers, however one in ten of these will be jalapeno hot.

The Longest Chilli was grown in 2018 by Jürg Wiesli in Switzerland.  It was a Joe Long Cayenne and measured 50.5cm

The heaviest chilli was grown by Dale Toten in the UK in 2018.  It weighed in at 420 grams

Mike Jack in Canada holds the record (2019) for the most Bhut jolokia eaten in one minute:  97 grams.

According to the Guiness book of records the hottest chilli is from the aptly named Puckerbutt Pepper Company in the USA.  It is Smokin’ Ed’s Carolina Reaper (1641183 SHU)


Aphids – plant wilts, leaves puckered and distorted. Insects under leaves or on new growth. Water regularly in dry weather..

Companion Planting

Basil, Carrot, Eggplant, Onion, Parsley, Tomato

NEVER Fennel, Kohlrabi