Growing The Bhut Jolokia
The world’s hottest pepper at one time. Over one million Scoville Units of heat.
Handle with caution! We recommend wearing gloves and a dust or pollen mask when working with or around these plants.
Bhut Jolokia peppers are very hard to grow but well worth the wait.
Bhut seeds require soil temperatures to be between 75°F and 90°F for proper germination.
The use of a growing mat may be necessary.
Keep soil moderately moist, never allow it to completely dry out and never allow the soil to become soggy. This will destroy the embryo in the seed and they will not germinate.
Bhut seed can take as long as 35-40 days to germinate and the growing season to harvest can be as long as 4 months.
Patience is a key word with Bhut peppers.
Starting your seeds:
Start your Bhut seeds 8-10 weeks, sowing them ¼ inch deep, indoors, before it is safe to plant in the garden.
DO NOT transplant until you can be certain the soil temperature will remain above 70-75 degrees F.
Also—don’t start your seeds too early because they can become root bound or start to grow out like a tree instead of a bush.
Using a larger starting pot than normal can help overcome the plant getting root-bound. We suggest at least a deep 2 inch pot for starters.
Bhut plants are somewhat delicate due to their brittle branches so you need to be careful when handling the plants at any time.
Seed quality is a great factor in growing the Bhut.
At Valley Seed Co. we obtain all our Bhut seed directly through the NMSU chili program.
Seeds 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.
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 an hour or two of exposure to the outdoors at first, then increase time slowly until you are leaving them outdoors day and night.
It’s a good idea to place a protective container with the bottom cut out around the new transplant. A one gallon milk jug works great. This will discourage crawling pests as well as protect the new seedling from the wind. Bhut peppers don’t like too much wind. In addition, the container helps keep a constant soil temperature during initial transplant.
Pollination and Isolation:
Peppers are inbreeding plants and usually 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. It works like this. If a sweet pepper is grown next to a hot pepper, the sweet pepper will develop hot characteristics in the next generation—this is a result of cross-pollination.
Isolation is required to ensure seed purity. It’s suggested that 500 feet between plants should be maintained. If you do not have this much space, chances are that you are going to get some cross-pollination.
Placing a paper bag around the seed flowers can be used to prevent crossing.
From The Chili Pepper Institute regarding the hottest pepper in the world.
Questions About the Official World’s Hottest Chile Pepper
Mark Twain famously said “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” The same can be said about the world’s hottest chile pepper, it has been greatly exaggerated. The Chile Pepper Institute has had many inquiries about the Naga Viper and other chile peppers that claim to be the world’s hottest chile pepper. The Chile Pepper Institute cannot confirm that the Naga Viper or any other chile pepper is the world’s hottest, until unbiased, scientific replicated experiments have been done.
The Chile Pepper Institute is research based, and we base all of our information on this principal. What the Chile Pepper Institute can state is that the only extremely hot, commercially available chile pepper is the Bhut Jolokia. The Bhut Jolokia AVERAGED in replicated plots, 1,001,304 Scoville Heat Units. The Naga Viper was a single plant, and is not commercially available, nor has it been tested in replicated trials. To our knowledge, the heat of the Naga Viper was tested from a single plant; it has not been tested in replicated trials. Furthermore, seed of this plant is not commercially available.
Currently, the Bhut Jolokia pepper remains the hottest pepper that is commercially available. The Chile Pepper Institute will keep our members apprised of future developments.