Growing Super Hot Chillies

The Worlds Hottest Chillies


Super Hot Chillies have recently become the in thing. Re-discovered as it were with so many unusual shapes and sizes with such differing heat values. They look beautiful, interesting and some look actually quite scary! Having somewhat of a growing background regarding all things botanical I was infused to have a go at growing these mean looking fiery fruits out of a love for spices and plants and with the recommendation of a good friend of mine.

row of colourful super hot chillies

When I was at University I was educated in Biological Sciences (plant and animal) and have plenty of experience growing a wide variety of edible plants along with ornamental’s but growing the Hottest Chillies in the World and in the tropics was to be no leisurely walk in the park but that is what myself and a good old friend decided to do, bring on the Super Hot Chillies!

What I got out of the venture was a tremendous amount of experience growing in the tropics and good Super Hot Chillies Stock Images to boot!

trinidad scorpion moruga super hot chillies
Trinidad Scorpion Moruga Chili – Previous Guinness World Record 2012 – 2013

 

So the big question is how did we get on?

Success or Failure?

 

Well it was a mixture of both actually, there were numerous obstacles to overcome even though a lot of the Super Hot Chillies originate in places like Trinidad and Tobago where I imagine the climate is similar to that of Kuching in Malaysian Borneo.
My take on it from personal experience is like this.
On paper listing the advantages of growing in a tropical climate we have few but their impact is greater than their number.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Growing in a Tropical Climate

Advantages

  • Growing Period :  Year round
  • Sunshine :             Plenty of it
  • Water :                   Plentiful supply
  • Heat :                     At least 30 degrees by day

Disadvantages

  • Daylight Growing Hours :  12 hours results in early flowering
  • Sunshine :                            Intense (requires serious shading)
  • Water :                                  Torrential rains, plants prone to root rot if not protected
  • Heat :                                    Can be too hot, need cool evening temperatures
  • Aphids :                                Plant pests love heat and multiple quickly
  • Ants :                                    Ants farm aphids which slowly destroy the plant

germinating super hot chillies seedlings
Chili Seedlings – germinating Super Hot Chillies

 

Now let’s go into the disadvantages a bit more deeply
Amount of daylight hours are very limited in the tropics near the equator. As one gets closer to the equator the length of daylight and darkness get closer and closer eg. on the equator we generally have 12 hours daylight and 12 hours darkness compared with the northern hemisphere where day and night hours depending on the time of year differ tremendously. In summer say in northern Europe we have (at the peak) 18 hours daylight and 6 hours darkness which becomes the opposite during the peak of winter 18 hours darkness and a mere 6 hours of daylight. So this factor affects a plants growth, more daylight hours is equivalent to more growth when the plants can happily photosynthesize.

chocolate naga super hot chillies
Chocolate Naga Chillies (Bhut Jolokia) – Guinness World Record 2007 – 2011
 

Normally plants are triggered into flowering in the northern hemisphere with a drop in daylight hours caused by hormone fluctuations within the plant. (it’s like the plants are being told autumn and winter is approaching and they should make haste, flower and produce seeds for the continuation of species survival).

Nearer to the equator where we have roughly a 12/12 hour growing cycle plants can flower year round and fortunately for agriculturalists this means more crops, more veggies, more fruits, although tropical fruits are still somewhat seasonal. Generally speaking there is no break from growing unlike in the northern hemisphere during autumn/winter whereby plants either die or become dormant like perennials or trees after losing their leaves. We must wait until temperatures and daylight hours increase in spring to start growing again.

7 pot yellow chili

7 Pot Yellow Chili – Related to the 7 Pot Infinity Chili, World Record (2011)

So although a tropical climate has its advantages it also brings with it a number of disadvantages. In the southern hemisphere we have the advantages of a tropical climate where plants grow year round and give us a lush green environment due to so much sunlight, high temperatures and water this can also create its own obstacles especially for Chili plants.
 
 
 
Water and Humidity
 
Chili plants don’t like it too humid, extremely high temperatures are not beneficial and too much water especially around the roots (as with other members of the Solanaceae family such as tomatoes and aubergines) is not at all good, constant wet feet as we call it will rot the roots and that will be the death of the plant.
In a place like Borneo where torrential downpours can be frequent, come unexpectedly, incredibly powerful and deposit in a short time huge amounts of water therefore we have to be careful that the plants don’t get flooded. This is very trying at times with such deluges that can occur and if the plants do survive a good flooding, (now and then is OK but regularly water logging will ultimately destroy the plant) adverse effects on growth can be noted such as yellowing of leaves and leaf fall.

It is generally considered good practice to keep the plants neither too wet or too dry, give them a good watering and leave them to drink it and allow them dry out, at which point they will be thirsty for more which in turn will boost growth. It can be a fine line with these Super Hot Chillies.

 
unusual appearance of yellow mushroom chili
Unusual Shaped Yellow Mushroom Chili – Medium Heat

Extreme Sunlight
 
On the opposite end of the scale the dry season creates another problem of not having enough water to keep the plants nourished, too little water and you will see the plants wilting under the heat of the intense sun in the tropics and they can look at times like they are teetering on the edge of existence! Full sun all day long is not a good idea, some form of shading is ideal whereby they receive plenty of sunlight along with recuperation time during shaded times and this will slow down their drinking pattern somewhat. Some kind of canopy cover is essential in such hot climates.
 
brain strain super hot chillies
7 Pot Brain Strain Chili – In the Top Ten of The Worlds Super Hot Chilies
 
7 pot brain strain chili
7 Pot Brain Strain Chili
 
Ants and Aphids
 

Ants were a constant problem as plants are an excellent medium for their farming activities and boy can they farm!
Ants will look for any substrate with which they can farm Aphids (common plant pests which multiple with considerable ease in a hot climate which is of great benefit for the ants as they will take nectar, a source of food from the aphids.


How does it work?

The ants drive the aphids up the plant stem to the growing tips, the fresh young growth where new leaves and flowers sprout from. This is a supply of food for the aphids, their waste or secretions are a nectar which is a source of food for the ants. The disadvantages to the plant are many, the over abundance of aphids which feed on the plant juices by eating away at the leaves stunt plant growth in a big way, new leaves if they can sprout will be mutated and as a result fruits from the flowers will also be mutated, small and oddly shaped being unable to fulfill their potential.
This is a classic example of an infestation of mealy bug annihilating one of the Super Hot Chillies, if left unchecked, a Chocolate Habanero pepper plant.

 
mealy bug infects leaves of super hot chillies
Infested Chocolate Habanero Plant
 
Chocolate Habanero Plant before Infestation
 
Daylight Growing Hours
 
Now to the 12 hour daylight and 12 hour darkness part of the growing cycle. As mentioned before in temperate northern hemisphere climates the main growing season is spring through summer where plants have 12-18 hours of light a day which is great for the vegetation period. The plant uses this to grow big and strong sending out many branches which will in turn be able to support many flowers and therefore fruits. Flowering is triggered with most plants after a certain period of time or alternatively when there is a decrease in hours of daylight. Normally the period from germination to fruit or flowering if we are talking about a  standard flowering plant is around 3 months.The Super Hot Chilies, the real hardcore Chili plants can take up to 4 months from germination to fruit.
This being said and from my experience due to the 12/12 light and dark cycle in Borneo the Chili plants seemed to flower very quickly, after a few weeks even when they were still small which was undesirable because once they start to flower they put all their energy into that and less into putting out new branches and growth. Ideally we want lots of growth, a big plant with many branches will give a higher yield and be strong enough to support the weight of the crop. So we can say this is one of the disadvantages of growing this particular crop near the equator but if we are growing year round but the yield is less I’d say that probably balances things out. In the northern hemisphere you would be lucky to get a decent crop of the Superhots anyway due to the short growing season, spring through summer  and lower temperatures, unless you are using grow lights.
 
plantation of super hot chillies
Super Hot Chillies at Different Stages of Growth
 
super hot chilies supported by bamboo
Just a Few of the Chili Plants Staked and Nailed to Bamboo Supports
 
Strong Winds and Thunderstorms
 
Another occurrence in Kuching was the heavy thunder and lightning storms which before they struck brought with them terrible hurricane like winds with disastrous effects. The winds would wreak havoc on the canopy cover, reinforced transparent mesh supported plastic sheeting, ripping it from its awnings and throwing it about like a dog with a rag doll. The plants would topple like domino’s as they were growing in the Asian style polythene pot like containers so these needed to be attached to something to prevent being bowled over which normally resulted in broken branches and plant stems.
rare Pimenta De Neyde chili
Another Unusual Chili – the Pimenta De Neyde – In situ and typical growth on the plant
 
Temperature
Most plants love heat but only to a certain degree quite literally!
In Asian tropical climates the heat can be a little too much at times and just as humans suffer when it gets extremely hot so do plants. Chili plants grow best in temperatures ranging from mid 20’s to 30 degrees centigrade. Anything above 30 degrees can drastically reduce plant yields. Going above that puts added stress on the plants and also means night time temperatures are also going to be high. Ideally Chili plants like a nice drop in temperature in the dark part of the growing cycle but not too much extreme between the two. If there is a big difference in day and night temperatures this can cause flowers to fall off before fruit has begun to grow as can extremely hot daytime temperatures.
 
Crop of Raja Mirch, 7 Pot Yellow, Red Naga & Caribbean Red Hot Chilies
 
fruit crop of super hot chillies
Some of the Super Hot Chillies- Hottest Chilies in the World
 
We actually grew about 40 different Chili varieties a portion of which can be seen in the image above, from the top ten hottest in the world down to the much less intense Jalapeno‘s and Royal Black Chillies, an odd small round ball shaped Chili similar in shape to the Chiltepin Chili (which we also grew) but of a Black colour when fully mature.
 
royal black chilies
Royal Black Chili
 
Scoville Scale – Heat rating of moderate to Super Hot Chillies
 
The heat of a Chili is measured by the Scoville Scale, named after Wilbur Scoville an American Pharmacist who devised the test way back in 1912 to test the ‘hotness’ of a Chili or anything derived from Chillies such as pure Capsaicin oil or even Hot Chili Sauces.
visual table of scoville scale chili heat ratings
The Scoville Scale courtesy of The Hot Sauce Kiosk
 
At Present the Carolina Reaper as of 2013 is the Guinness World Record holder for being the Hottest Chili in the World but doesn’t seem to have made it yet on most Scoville Scale depictions, it really is ‘off the scale’!

 

So to wrap things up where did all this lead to?

Why grow all these different types of Super Hot Chillies and to what end?
 
Well, quite simply it was all about making Chili Sauces and using the many different varieties to create absurdly hot sauces which differed in taste but nevertheless tasted great but that’s another story!!!!
 
 
Result – Big Nosed Monkey Chili Sauce

For many more Super Hot Chillies please see the link below to go to the Collection of Images and if you wish to use any of the images for whatever purpose you can download them. Blog or Web Size Images are Extremely Cheap.
 

Location of Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia
 

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