If you're growing habanero peppers, hopefully you love a lot of spice in your food. The brightly colored hot peppers are one of the hottest peppers widely available in supermarkets. Habaneros, like many peppers, take a long time to ripen, but they're worth the wait if you are eager to make fiery salsas and hot sauce. Just remember to use care when handling the flesh of these peppers.
Habaneros are one of the hottest chili peppers and are best reserved for experienced heat-seekers. Although much hotter peppers exist, habaneros are near the top of the list and are more well-known. Habaneros have measured Scoville units of 350,000 to 550,000. They are a rich source of Vitamin C as well as capsaicin, the substance in hot peppers that is believed to exhibit antimicrobial properties. The bell-shaped peppers often appear in hues of orange or red.
Germinate habenero seeds in soil with temperatures between 80 and 85 Fahrenheit. They love heat and will not tolerate frost, so wait until air is warm before planting in the garden. If starting indoors, a heating mat can accelerate germination. It takes a long time for habanero peppers to mature into edible fruits -- from 100 to 120 days after transplanting. The peppers grow somewhat slowly but warm temperatures will ensure growth is adequate. If temperatures get too hot, pod production will suffer.
How to Boost Growth
Remove extra blossoms that appear before transplanting, and continue to remove small, early flowers and fruit until the plant is more established. Add black plastic mulch to retain soil moisture and control weeds, which will help speed up growth. To avoid overheating the plants, place them in a location with moderate shade and hose down plants on hot days. Use cages or trellises to support stems and boost fruit production.
Habaneros are ready for picking 100 days after transplanting but may take as long as 120 days to ripen. Peppers will initially appear green and turn red or orange as they ripen. Redder peppers tend to be hotter. Add fresh habanero to spice up sauces and dishes, or lay them to dry and store for later use. Chili peppers such as this one should be treated with respect. Always wash hands thoroughly after handling the peppers and avoid contact with eyes.