Figuring out how to grow Carolina Reaper Peppers from seed is a relatively straightforward process. Whether you’re doing it from seeds you have saved, or seeds you’ve bought, with the right preparation you should achieve success. It just requires a degree of patience as the Carolina Reaper seeds can be notoriously slow to germinate. It’s usually best to start germination of the seeds indoors as you have greater control over temperature and humidity.
Options for germination:
- Using a disposable plastic cup
- Mini Greenhouse
- Germination in a ziplock bag with moist paper
Always wear gloves when handling the seeds when sowing, picking fruit or any other direct contact.
I’m currently testing the three methods of germination for Carolina Reaper seeds. I’m looking to discover which is the most successfull in terms of reliability and speed of germination for the seeds.
Sow the seeds a maximum of 5mm deep. This is to prevent the plants from dying before making it through the surface of the soil. In order to get a more accurate sowing depth, you can pre-water the soil this will force it to compact and settle such that future waterings will not disturb the soil as much and displace the seed.
Reapers can be transplanted once they reach a size of around 6 inches.
Need to use a minimum size of 20L or 5 gallons for pot sizes. Don’t go below this because it will affect the size and bounty of your chilli harvest. You will find the plant becomes much more prolific as you increase the pot size and let the roots expand.
If sowing in the ground then the plants enjoy a till and furrow planting configuration whereby you have a series of ridges and valleys. Sow the plant in the ridge, the valley provides good drainage. Anecdotal reports have suggested that growing in the ground also provides chillis with more flavour than their pot ridden counterparts, but this is entirely subjective.
According to one source, the best fertalizer for Carolina Reapers is a 5-10-5 or 10-10-10 fertaliser, with an aged manuer being the best fertaliser around (go for horse manure).
Carolina Reapers can be picked from a green colour to a deep red. If you’re looking for that fully developed flavour and heat intensity, then it is ideal to let them fully develop into the red colour and back off watering during fruiting – this will increase the capsaicin content, but also result in smaller pods. Up to you!
No signs of germination. It’s still early days. Mini greenhouse measures soil temp of 30 degrees Celsius and air temp of 28 degrees Celsius, humidity is at 99%. Ambient house temperature is stable around 23 degrees Celsius.
The first Carolina Reaper has sprouted from the mini greenhouse. Still no sign from either the ziplock bag or the plastic cup approach.
Still only the single Carolina Reaper in the greenhouse has germinated. The seeds in the ziplock bag started to go mouldy. I’ve removed these and given up on this method. I’m wondering if the other seeds have been sown too deep and were not able to break through the surface. There has been consistent control over temperature and humidity, so these aren’t likely to be issues. I will wait for another 2 – 3 weeks before taking a look at what the seeds are doing. There’s also a chance that some were not viable.
For a fantastic resource check out Peppers By Mail.
I’ve given each of the methods another go (I was heading into winter so plenty of time to play around) and have found that the ziplock bag was the best method. I think the seeds didn’t grow the first time round because they were either unviable or they were just too dry.
I still made mistakes this time around though – transplanting the seeds from the moist paper into a container is very tricky. It’s easy to damage the tiny roots and I’ve noticed it seems to put a halt to the plants growth for some time. With some TLC and proper care the plants recover. What I’m thinking is the best option is to make small squares of tissue and place the seeds inside these. Once the roots have appeared, then transplant the tissue and seed directly into the pot without trying to remove the seed. This will save you from damaging the root system and should hopefully get the plant growing bigger quicker.
My strongest Carolina Reaper has a couple of leaves now and is looking healthy with dark green. I’ll add a couple pictures in the coming weeks.