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How To Grow Carolina Reaper Pepper From Seed

How To Grow Carolina Reaper Pepper From Seed

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:

  1. Using a disposable plastic cup
  2. Mini Greenhouse
  3. Germination in a ziplock bag with moist paper

Handling Instructions

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 thisĀ 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).

Picking Fruit

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!

My experiment:


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.

DAY 20

The first Carolina Reaper has sprouted from the mini greenhouse. Still no sign from either the ziplock bag or the plastic cup approach.

DAY 35

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.

DAY 155

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.


5 thoughts on “How To Grow Carolina Reaper Pepper From Seed”

  • I have very good (and fast) germination rates of Carolina Reaper seeds by soaking them in a solution of 50ppm of GA3 for 12 to 16 hours. Then I either use the baggie method, or plant in soiless seed starter in peat pots. The seeds will normally germinate in 5 to 7 days at a temperature of 80 to 90 degrees. At night, I let the temp fall to 70 degrees.

  • I have gotten great results reusing 9 slot seedling trays. I use a 1/3 perlite/peat moss/ potting soil mix. Usually 6-7 seedlings per nine seeds planted. I then transplant once they are 4-5 inches tall. I had no luck using the paper towel method, every sprout died upon transplant, so I stick with the formula above.

  • Hey Jimmy, I came across your blog while searching germination rate percentages for Carolina Reaper. I know that everyone has their “special” way of doing things, but I would like to share my own personal success.
    Fortunately, I have the privilege of living in Hawaii, specifically Big Island. Because of this, our mean temperature has a range of maybe 2-3 degrees during the day with temperatures plummeting to low of about 65-70!!! I know, super freezing!
    Because of this, I started off with all kinds of soil changes, soil temperatures to match those in India, moisture control, humidity, you name it. And what did I find out? The success rate of seed to germination, because that’s really the highest factor in determining seedling success, fluctuated tremendously. I gave up on trying to be all “scientificky” (can’t believe that shows up as not a word) and went to the local Walmart, bought about 300 of the pre-made seedling starts. I forgot the name of mine, they were on sale for $2 for 40.
    I already have quite a few of the little plastic greenhouses made for the seed starters so didn’t need to buy more.
    I did follow one planting method that I think is very specific to any chili or any seedling in a tropical soil growth, i.e. high moisture soil, and I also do plant at a maximum of 5mm.
    I water to where the water remains at the lower 1/4 height of the seedling starter pods after being FULLY hydrated, then place the cover on and set out on a window ledge facing the rising to mid-day sun, sitting in shade during the setting sun phase. My house phases West so, in this configuration, my greenhouses maintain a solid temperature rate throughout the day.
    Success rate: 60-80%!!! Now, I do disqualify seedling-germination success rates that fall below 10%. This is usually caused by factors affecting that grower’s seedlings such as, old seeds, fungus growth and just flat out a bad pepper for seedlings.
    So, all said and done, I am on year 4 and have successfully germinated well over 700 Carolina Reapers. I also germinate Ghosts, Butch T’s, Heinkelhatz, Hawaiian chilis (ALOT OF HAWAIIAN CHILIS!!!), Tortuga Scorpions, Habanero’s red and orange, Devil’s tongue, cayenne and even the little guys, Jalapeno’s, Serranos and rainbow bell peppers.
    All of them have started from the method I described above, except two Peach Ghosts and a Tortuga Reaper. I bought those pot-ready and use them as viable seed sources. My suggestion, to cut back on buying on-line. Take 4 peppers from each cycle, peel them, letting the seeds stay on the stamen, and germinate those seeds using your own preferred method. This is what I have done over 3 years and I now have roughly 300 plants of each of the types listed above. Not a bad days work nowadays!!!

  • Hi Jimmy,

    I am growing Reapers for the second time this year. I planted 11 days ago using some degradable pods with Peet coir. I live in Durban, South Africa and to be honest I planted a little late. I made a propagator from a plastic container and 2 cheap CFL globes, the temperature is almost constant on 26 ‘C. I planted 3 seeds in each of 20 pods and today (day 11) I am blessed with 50 reapers out of the 60 seeds.

    I am still convinced that jiffy pellets are the best and next time I will only plant 2 seeds in each so the culling is not so rough. I plan to leave only one plant in each pod but will only snip the weaker ones in 2-3 weeks.

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