How to Grow Bhut Jolokia Seeds

 

SPECIAL BHUT JOLOKIA TIPS

  • Please read the how to start your seeds provided very carefully and closely follow the directions.
  • Bhut Jolokia requires soil temperatures to be between 75°F and 90°F for proper germination. You may need to supply bottom heat with the aid of a propagation mat.
  • Soil must be kept moderately moist, never being allowed to completely dry out and never allowed to become soggy. This will destroy the embryo in the seed and they will not germinate.
  • The Bhut Jolokia can take up to 35 days just to germinate. They also have a very long growing period, up to 160 days before harvest.
  • The Bhut Jolokia is extremely hard to grow and we want you to succeed, so keep the faith!

HOW TO START YOUR SEEDS

Sow your Bhut seeds for 8-10 weeks indoors before it is safe to plant in the garden. Avoid starting too early as plants may become root-bound or leggy. Use a shallow flat or a recycled egg tray and a sterilized organic soil mix without fertilizer. You can sterilize your soil by pouring boiling water through it but please be careful if you do it this way. Optimal soil temperature for Bhut germination is between 80 and 85 degrees. Sew seeds 1/4 of an inch into soil. Bhut seeds take 2-4 weeks to germinate, but I have seen them show their first green leaf in 8-10 days in Hawaii. BUT, they can also take up to 35 days depending on soil temperature, and seed quality.

Seed themselves do not require light to germinate, however once the seeds have germinated you need to provide adequate light for the seedlings. The light that plants receive on a windowsill is often insufficient and may lead to leggy growth because plants stretch for the sunlight. A bright south facing window is usually sufficient, resulting in a more compact, healthier transplant to set out in the garden. Do not over water germinating seeds as this could lead to a fungal disease which could kill the young Bhuts.. Soil should be moist at planting time, but allowed to dry out somewhat on top before re-watering. Drain off water collected at the bottom of the planting tray so that seedlings are not sitting in water. In order to reduce transplanting shock, seedlings should be gradually conditioned to the outdoors for about a week before being set into the garden. Start off with just an hour or two of exposure to the outdoors at first, then increase time slowly until you are leaving them outdoors day and night. I ALWAYS put a protective container with the bottom cut out around the new transplant. A one gallon potting container works great. This will discourage crawling pests as well as protect the new seedling from the wind. Bhuts do not like too much wind or salty air.

PEPPERS

Peppers have been around for many centuries. Originally they were cultivated in Central and South America. Peppers flourish in hot climates, but quickly decay in cold climates. Gardeners who live in cold areas usually keep their pepper plants in a greenhouse for the winter. Most pepper plants go through color changes, from their immature to their mature stage. At the ripe state, peppers turn yellow, orange, red, purple or black. However, in the United States peppers are often harvested green and eaten green, and this practice is unique to this country.

POLLINATION, CROSSING AND ISOLATION

  • Peppers are inbreeding plants and can self-pollinate.
  • Insect cross pollination is common; a study in New Mexico showed up to 80% crossing in some populations.
  • The pungent gene is dominant in hot peppers. For example, if a sweet pepper is grown next to a hot pepper, the sweet pepper will develop hot characteristics in the next generation.
  • Isolation is required and in some instances caging to ensure seed purity. We suggest 500 between plants. If you do not have this much space, keep your fingers crossed!
  • Pepper bagging can also be used to prevent crossing

SEED PRODUCTION, HARVEST, AND PROCESSING

Seed harvest is ready when the fruit is mature. Only use peppers that are ripe, fully colored and show no signs of disease. When cleaning large peppers, try to cut it in a way you don't damage the internal core. The stem should be left attached to the core as a handle.

You can also clean peppers in a blender or food processor but only if the flesh will not be eaten. Cut the stems off and blend at low speed until cores disintegrate and are free of seeds. Stir the mixture, add water, blend it again, pour off debris, and repeat until clean. OR, you can put the seeds in a bucket and cover them with water. Use 2-3 times as much water relative to the volume of seeds and pulp. Stir the water aggressively for a few minutes. Poor quality seeds will have a tendency to float whereas the good seeds will sink because of their density. Discard the floaters and repeat this process until you have cleaned all of the seeds away from the pulp. After this, put the seeds in a tight knit strainer and wash under running water. Remember that the Bhut Jolokia is very, very hot and it is important to use rubber gloves and work in a well-ventilated area. The fumes of any hot pepper can cause respiratory pain.

You will then need to put the seeds on a non-stick surface to dry. I suggest a window screen, a ceramic dish, or a cookie sheet. Spread them out and do not allow the temperature to get above 95° Fahrenheit or damage to the seeds can occur. Do not use paper towels or similar or you will have difficulty removing the seeds after they are dry and could damage the seeds. You must dry the seeds in a timely manner as delays could lead to moldy seeds or seeds that germinate. You can use a window sill or the top of the refrigerator to place that screen or non-stick surface. Stir the seeds several times per day and as often as once per hour at first.

You can also use a dehydrator to dry your seeds. The best dehydrator is one that has an adjustable temperature control. Do not dry in a dehydrator that has temperatures in excess of 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

SEED STATISTICS

  • Peppers seeds retain 50% germination for 3 years if stored in a cool, dry, dark area.
  • Our germination rate is greater than 90% here at TWBCPC (in Hawaii under ideal conditions).
  • Approx. 3,920 seeds per ounce

GROWING PEPPERS FROM SEED

  • Pepper seeds should be covered .25" deep
  • They germinate at around 75-95° F (takes from 7-10 days to germinate in greenhouse conditions) Optimum temperature for the Bhut is 85° F.
  • Use sterilized soil or peat mixes to limit contamination
  • Seedlings usually transplant 2-3 times before being set out in the garden
  • Do not set out peppers until weather is stable and soil is warm
  • If hot climate, set out in shade and acclimate plants over a period of 10-14 days allowing more exposure to the sun each day
  • Plants should be at least 24" apart and in tropical areas at least 36" apart

REGIONAL GROWING RECOMMENDATIONS

Region Start in Green House To garden Recommendation
Hawaii Dec. 1- April 30 Dec. 15- June 15 Full sun, avg water, protected from wind, no salt air
Northeast April 20 June 1 Full sun, avg. water
Mid-Atlantic March 1-April 15 April 15-
June 1
Full sun, avg. water
Southeast/Gulf Coast March 1 April 15-30 Full sun, avg. water, require mulching in early summer
Upper Midwest April 1 May 20 Full sun, avg. water. Use floating row covers to prevent crossing
Southwest n/a March 15-
May 5
Full/partial sun, avg. water
Central West Coast Feb 1 April 1 Full sun, avg. water