Growing and Seeding Carolina Reaper
Carolina Reaper Facts
Carolina Reapers are some of the hottest peppers in the world! Believe me I tried one and it was a very rough 3 hours for me(consume with cation!). Their spiciness ranges from 1.5 million to 2.2 million scoville units. For those of you not familiar with Scoville Units, that is the pepper heat ranking system. What the Scoville scale measure is the the concentration of capsaicin which is the chemical in peppers that make them spicy. To give you an idea of how spicy they are, Carolina Reapers are rough between 30 to 50 times hotter than a Cayenne Pepper. That is blazing! Despite their spiciness they have a pleasant fruity flavor prior to wreaking havoc on you insides. For that reason I am growing some plants of my own for uses in dishes, sauces, and powders. For those of you that don’t fear the reaper and want to grow them too keep reading to learn more.
Carolina Reaper Seeds and Seed Starting
Since I got my seeds from a pepper that my neighbor gave me I didn’t actually have to order them. For many of you I am guessing you don’t have neighbors growing Carolina Reaper plants so you will need to go to the online ordering route. For that I would suggest using Pepper Joe’s.(affiliate link!). They had a low number of reviews but all were five star. They also send you a dried seed pod so you can try a pepper. Again use caution when consuming, I have a decently good tolerance for spicy and a small piece of a fresh reaper and I threw up from the heat and was on fire for 3 hours! These things are no joke. I would also suggest handling them and their seeds with some form of plastic or latex gloves. You really don’t want their level of heat on your hands.
To start your seeds I would place them in a seed starter, a pot, or your favorite method to start seeds. You can use heat mats to help with the germination if you would like. According to the Pucker Butt Pepper Company Website it is good to start by placing your seeds in the fridge 3 days prior to planting and to soak them for 30 minutes. I did not do those things. The various things I have read state that having soil temperatures of 80-85 degrees for the best results. I just put them in a pot with coco coir and would water them a little periodically when the soil dried some but not completely.
I did have them in an indoor grow tent so the environment was more hospitable than outside. One thing I want to mention is that these seeds take forever to germinate! I was to the point where I was going to throw them away and then they peaked through the coir. It took 5-6 weeks for them to start actually sprout out of the soil! I would give them roughly that much time and maybe a week or two more before throwing in the towel if they are not sprouting.
Carolina Reaper Care and Specifications
All of the research I have done points to the fact that these peppers take a while to grow. So the key thing is to be patient when growing them. Carolina Reapers need at least 4 feet in between each plant and can grow 5-6 feet in size. They need damp but not soaking wet soil. I am growing them via deep water culture so I am using river rocks for my peppers. Something to note that I did unfortunately was over feed them as seedlings with growing solution. It caused some leaf burn and some of the plants started to die. Rookie mistake but a good lesson, I backed down my solution concentration from the package recommended amount to one forth that quantity. The change has worked well and I am seeing a nice increase in growth.
The word to the wise is be careful initially about how much you are feeding them. They will become heavy feeders when they are full grow and fruiting but start slow.