Top Tips for Growing Habaneros and other Capsicum chinense
Chillies have somewhat of a reputation of being hard to grow, and the Habanero is no exception. However, this difficult reputation is largely undeserved, and by following a few simple guidelines, you will be able to cultivate your very own delicious Habaneros to enjoy at home!
General tips for growing are as follows: Chillies in general are used to hot climates, and the Habanero is no exception. Because of this, your Habaneros will require either a long hot summer, or the warmth and security of a greenhouse, poly tunnel or hot conservatory. As long hot summers tend to be in short supply in the UK, you are unlikely to have much success if you do not provide your Habaneros with one of the these environments, even if only for the germination process.
Start your seeds off as with any other pepper or sweet chilli plants. DON'T rush to pot them on before they ready – they don't like this at all! After germination, a warm windowsill can also be a good place to grow on your new plants. Try to keep your Habaneros moist but not waterlogged. Spraying plants can help encourage flower heads, and don't forget to feed once a week, perhaps increasing to twice a week as they get larger.
All Habanero chillies are extremely hot, but there is some variation between different varieties. Some strains are also easier to grow than others. If you are just starting out with your chilli cultivation, the Orange Habanero is probably the easiest to begin with. It is the most commonly grown variety because of the relative ease of growth, and also due to its prolific cropping ability. The fruit size is usually around 2.5cm by 4cm, produced by a shrubby bush which usually reaches 70cm in height and 70cm wide.
The most stunning variety available is the Hot Chocolate Habanero. As per their name, they are similar in appearance to other varieties except for their rich brown colouration. These are incredibly hot (up to 600,00 units), and can be tricky to grow, but for the ultimate chilli head they are well worth it!
Article by Rebecca Berridge.