Carolina Reaper Pepper

Do you dare to grow the world’s hottest pepper? Get your milk-chaser ready, because Carolina Reaper packs a punch! With an off-the-chart Scoville rating of 1,569,300, these devilish red fruits aren’t for wimps. Easy to grow, the infamous pepper possesses a fruity and sweet aroma, with an undertone of chocolate and cherry flavors. It may be hot, but it’s packed with flavor, too. A little goes a long way—use part of a pod to flavor an entire pot of chili, or dehydrate and grind the peppers to make ultra-hot pepper powder. Just be sure to wear gloves when handling and add a mask when processing.

Light                           Full sun

Fruit size                    2 to 3 inches long

Matures                     70 to 75 days

Spacing                     24 to 36 inches apart

Plant size                  4 to 5 feet tall

Scoville rating           1,569,300

Some Bonnie Plants varieties may not be available in your local area, due to different variables in certain regions. Also, if any variety is a limited, regional variety it will be noted on the pertinent variety page.

At a glance

Light requirements: Full sun.

Planting: Space 12 to 48 inches apart, depending on type. (See information above for specific recommendations.)

Soil requirements: Peppers need well-drained, nutrient-rich soil. Amend soil with 3 to 5 inches of compost or other organic matter prior to planting. Soil pH should be 6.2 to 7.0.

Water requirements: Keep soil consistently moist throughout the growing season. Mulch soil to reduce water evaporation.

Frost-fighting plan: Pepper is a hot-weather crop. A light frost will damage plants (28º F to 32º F), and temps below 55º F slow growth and cause leaves to look yellowish. If a surprise late spring frost is in the forecast, protect newly planted seedlings with a frost blanket.

Common issues: Plants drop flowers when daytime temps soar above 90º F. Few pests bother peppers, but keep an eye out for aphids, slugs, pill bugs, and leafminers. Humid weather (especially in gardens with heavy soil that doesn’t drain well) can invite fungal diseases like leafspot.

Harvesting: Check image on plant tag (or at the top of this page) to learn what your pepper looks like when mature. Some peppers turn red, yellow, or other colors at maturity. Others are ready in the green stage, but will turn red if left on plants. Use pruning shears or a sharp knife to cut peppers with a short stub of stem attached. Pulling peppers by hand can cause entire branches to break off. Fruits store longer for fresh use if you don’t remove the stem, which can create an open wound that’s ripe for spoiling.

Storage: Store unwashed (or washed and dried) peppers in the refrigerator in a loosely closed plastic bag. Moisture is a pepper’s enemy and hastens spoiling. For peak flavor and nutrition, use within a week.

For more information, visit the Peppers page in our How to Grow section.