By Jennifer Poindexter
Would you like to grow a classic around your garden? If so, the chiltepin pepper could be right for you.
When we think of hot peppers, this variety rarely comes to mind. Yet, this is what most consider “the original” hot pepper.
These peppers look different from other varieties, but they’re easy enough to grow. If you’re interested in adding this variety to your garden, make sure you understand the process before gardening season begins.
If you need to know how to grow chiltepin peppers (Capsicum annuum var. glabriusculum), here’s everything you should know for this gardening journey:
Growing Conditions for Chiltepin Peppers
Chiltepin peppers need an adequate growing location to encourage healthy, thriving plants.
Unlike many pepper varieties, chiltepin prefers to grow in partial sunlight. Yet, they still require well-draining soil as peppers don’t thrive in areas of oversaturation.
Expect chiltepin peppers (also known as tepin peppers) to serve as perennials in higher planting zones. If you live in an area with no freezing temperatures, these peppers will turn into shrubs.
Even more impressively, these shrubs have been known to live for over thirty-five years!
Another thing to consider when selecting a growing location for these plants is their size. Chiltepin peppers can grow as tall as three feet.
However, if you select a growing location with enough room, adequately draining soil, and enough light, they should do well while growing in your care.
How to Plant Chiltepin Peppers
Though chiltepin peppers are an older variety of pepper, it doesn’t mean that it’s common. You shouldn’t be surprised if you don’t find them as seedlings at your local nursery.
You’ll probably have to start your plants from seed at home. Since these peppers are slow to produce, it’s also recommended that you start the seeds indoors to get a jump on the growing season.
When you grow chiltepin peppers, begin the seed growing process eight weeks before the final frost. Fill a growing tray with seed starting mix. Place two seeds per cell in the tray as a germination insurance policy. They should be planted ¼ inch deep in the soil.
In case one of the seeds doesn’t germinate, you’ll have a back-up. If they both germinate, choose the stronger plant and cut the other off at the soil.
After the seeds are planted, mist the soil lightly with water to keep it damp without oversaturating it. Too much water in your soil can lead the seeds to rotting prior to germination.
Place the seed starting tray in a warm location. The seeds need temperatures around 80-degrees Fahrenheit to encourage germination.
The seeds can take up to three weeks to germinate. After they’ve sprouted, move them to a warm location where they’ll receive bright, indirect sunlight.
Continue watering the plants. Wait for true leaves to form and the final frost to pass before you begin hardening them off.
Once hardened off, you may transplant the seedlings in their permanent outdoor growing location. You may grow the plants in the ground or in a container.
Make sure the planter is at least five gallons if growing these peppers in a container garden. Also, you should only grow one pepper plant per container.
Whether planting in the ground or in a pot, dig a hole deep enough to support the plant’s root system. Place the plant in the hole, backfill with soil, and press firmly around its base.
If planting in the ground, leave three feet of space between each plant. This completes the planting process when growing chiltepin peppers in your garden.
Once this is accomplished, you’re ready to learn how to care for these plants to ensure they thrive.
Caring for Chiltepin Peppers
Chiltepin peppers are low-maintenance crops. This shouldn’t be surprising because most peppers are relatively low-maintenance as well.
All these peppers need are water, fertilizer, and weed control. You should amend the soil prior to planting your peppers to ensure they have a base of nutrients to draw from while becoming established.
From there, you can fertilize your plants on a consistent basis using either a water-soluble or granular based fertilizer.
Follow the instructions provided on the package to know how to apply the fertilizer and the frequency it should be applied.
Chiltepin peppers also need water. It’s wise to water the plants deeply as it lightens your workload since you’ll water the plants for longer periods, fewer days of the week.
This method also encourages deeper root systems. In turn, this creates healthier plants.
The last thing you’ll need to do is apply a layer of mulch around your plants. This will help keep weeds down and moisture in around them.
You don’t want weeds in your garden as they provide a home for pests and diseases. Plus, they’ll compete for nutrients with your plants.
If you can provide these few things for your chiltepin peppers, they should do well in your garden or landscape.
Garden Pests and Diseases Which Impact Chiltepin Peppers
There’s great news when it comes to growing chiltepin peppers. These plants are relatively disease free because they serve as a deterrent to many common bacterial and fungal issues.
However, you do have to remain alert to some pests as aphids, spider mites, thrips, and flea beetles do commonly feast upon these plants.
Should you notice a problem with pests, be sure to treat them immediately with an insecticide to avoid large amounts of damage to your peppers.
These are the only things you should be aware of in your garden when growing chiltepin peppers.
Harvesting Chiltepin Peppers
The last thing to discuss about growing chiltepin peppers is how to harvest them. You harvest these peppers a little differently because they’re so different from other pepper varieties.
Chiltepin peppers take around 120 days to produce a harvest. When they produce, they won’t look like normal peppers.
Instead, these peppers will be small, circular, and look more like a berry. Don’t let the cute shape and size fool you.
These peppers have a 50,000-100,000 rating in scoville heat units. This means they’re over forty times hotter than a jalapeno!
You may be wondering what you can do with such hot peppers. Many people enjoy them fresh, some dry them, and you may also pickle them.
You’ll harvest the peppers by plucking them from the plant. Store them in your fridge, and they should last for one to two weeks.
These are the basic things you should know when growing chiltepin peppers. You’re now well-versed in what these plants need in a growing location, how to plant them, care for them, protect them, and even harvest them.
If you’re into super hot peppers and want to taste the OG variety, then attempt growing chiltepin peppers. It may be an experience you never forget and hopefully one you thoroughly enjoy.
Chiltepin Peppers Quick Reference Growing Chart
|Height||Up to 3 feet tall|
|Planting||Start seeds indoors 8 weeks before last frost; transplant after hardening off and last frost|
|Spacing||3 feet apart|
|Container||At least 5-gallon pot (1 plant per container)|
|Watering||Water deeply and consistently|
|Fertilizing||Amend soil before planting; fertilize regularly|
|Mulching||Apply mulch for moisture retention and weed suppression|
|Pests||Aphids, spider mites, thrips, flea beetles|
|Harvest Time||Around 120 days|
|Scoville Heat||50,000-100,000 units (hotter than jalapeños)|
- Chiltepin peppers prefer partial sunlight and well-draining soil.
- Start the seeds indoors 8 weeks before the final frost, as they are slow to produce.
- Chiltepin peppers are low-maintenance and need water, fertilizer, and weed control.
- These peppers are relatively disease-free but may be susceptible to aphids, spider mites, thrips, and flea beetles.
- Harvest chiltepin peppers when they turn small, circular, and berry-like. They can be stored in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.
More About Chiltepin Peppers
Don DuFaux says
You say “Harvest chiltepin peppers when they turn small, circular, and berry-like. They can be stored in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.” I have been growing chiltepines for a few years, and I typically just put them in a shallow dish near a sunny window and let them dry. I then keep them in an open jar on a kitchen shelf and seem to be able to use them (crushed and sprinkled, as a condiment) for at least a year or more?