Looking to grow super-hot ghost peppers (Bhut jolokia) and other hot peppers indoors? The super hot, perennial ghost pepper originally came from northern Indian and only started to be spread recently in the year 2000.
Can ghost peppers be grown indoors year after year?
Absolutely! To start, fill the bottom of a pot with soil that has been mixed with compost or fertilizers. Plant two to three seedlings in each container. Place an artificial light source nearby. Keep humidity high and temperatures in the 70-80s F. Finally, check the soil daily and water as needed. Then sit back and wait for them to grow!
With some soil, light, water, and simple tools you can be growing this mysterious Indian pepper indoors today using the instructions and videos below.
9 Steps to Grow Ghost Peppers Indoors
1. Get Seeds or Plants – Obtain seeds online or from a local nursery. Do not grow your ghost peppers from peppers you purchased. The seeds may have hybridized into a new variety that’s not as hot or even hotter. For consistency, it’s best to get seeds from a supplier.
2. Choose Containers – You’ll want an 8-inch diameter pot per pepper plant. To get there you’ll need to transplant from the smaller pot you bought your plant in. If you started from seed on a seed tray you’ll first want to transfer to a mini-3 inch pot then transplant again into the 8-inch plant.
If you are growing in grow tents and can control soil temperatures better you can start your seeds in an 8-inch pot. To transplant or not is really up to you and how much work you want to do for how high of a success rate.
It’s easier to warm up a seedling mat then transfer to small pots to keep those warm then transfer to the final pot. Success will be higher but more work is required.
Make sure your containers have enough drainage holes and are set up in a way for water to flow through freely without getting blocked. Deep trays are highly recommended.
3. Adding Lighting – Choose if the primary goal of your plants is for decoration or a bountiful harvest. If you want more peppers get a grow tent and add grow lights. Grow tents allow you to fully control the lighting, temperature, and humidity. Plus with the reflectiveness of grow tent’s inner walls, you get more lighting for the buck.
4. Add Potting Soil – Buy a good potting soil with fertilizer included from the garden supply store. Store-bought potting soil is sterile so you won’t have to compete with fungus and infections, the last bane of indoor gardeners.
5. Water Daily – Water daily. Check the feel of the soil before you water. Generally, you should add water till it drains from the bottom. This assumes your container has good drainage holes that aren’t blocked.
Check the drain tray before watering as well. Does it still have water in it from yesterday (and the bottom of the plants can sit in it and wick up water)? Then go light on the water today.
Easy watering is why we’re fans of earth boxes or DIY designs for self-watering containers.
6. Keep at Ideal Temperatures – Keep your peppers warm at air temperatures between 75 – 85 Degrees F. Get a thermometer and keep it at the level of the soil containers (or somewhere you can see it). Aquarium stickers on the soil containers to show you the temperature of the soil will also help. Both the plant and soil need to be warm.
The only time indoor temperatures are an issue is if you set the plant by a window and it gets overheated during the day or it gets too cold a night. Again, solve this problem by growing only during the same months you’d grow this outside or by using an insulated grow tent (or make your own DIY tent).
7. Check Humidity – Keep the humidity moderate – 50 – 75%. Too much and you can get fungus and disease. Too little and the plants dry out and use water faster, potentially giving you smaller peppers.
8. Pollinating – Pollinate your ghost peppers by hand when the flowers appear. Use any small paintbrush. Bristled devices work better than tissues (think how well the hairy legs of bees carry pollen from plant to plant).
9. Harvesting Peppers – Most hot peppers take 100 – 150 days to grow from seed. If you’ve grown sweet peppers get prepared to wait longer. Harvest your peppers when they are 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 ” long. Wear latex or nitrile gloves while harvesting and toss out the gloves after touching your ghost peppers. If the pepper skin is damaged it could release capsaicin which could burn your skin or could get in your eyes later.
Quick video on growing ghost peppers indoors using incandescent lights to provide heat and LEDs as grow lights with a foil back reflector:
Ghost Pepper Growing Tips
1. Be Patient – Hot peppers grow slow! – Hot peppers take longer than sweet peppers to grow and mature. Be prepared to wait 100 – 150 days for those tasty peppers.
2. Check the soil and drip tray before you water. Already super wet? Water in the tray? Go light on the watering this time.
3. Wear gloves when harvesting. Ghost peppers are the hottest pepper on earth (for now). If you get pepper juice on your hands while harvesting and get it in your eyes there will be a pain to pay.
4. Control conditions for a bigger harvest. When growing indoors you can maximize harvest by controlling conditions using a grow tent (or making your own tent with reflective insulating bags). Inside the grow tent you can more easily set the temperature, humidity, and light levels.
Plus it blocks light and noise from the rest of the room making it easier to grow peppers in any room of the house.
Read the complete guide above and watch the videos for more tips and tricks when growing peppers.
Ghost Pepper Fertilizer
If you use new potting soil you won’t need to add fertilizer before the first harvest. If you plan to reuse the same soil next year keep a few things in mind:
- You should sterilize or pasteurize the soil to kill any fungus or diseases
- You’ll need to add organic or conventional fertilizer/compost
To keep things easy, consider using new potting soil that you purchased from a garden supply store for each harvest (seed germination to ripe peppers). Choose organic or conventional potting soil based on your preference. Both are pretty cheap for small, indoor growing gardeners.
When you are ready you can learn about making your own compost, DIY fertilizer, and how to blend and sterilize your own potting soil.
Ghost Pepper Recipes
There are a ton of ghost pepper recipes on the web. This post aims to teach you how to grow fresh ghost peppers indoors so it’s a bit out of our scope to cover all recipes.
However, we can’t help share a few that we recommend you check out.
Growing Ghost Peppers Indoors Hydroponically in Grow Tents
Check out this quick video on growing ghost chilis hydroponically in just a few months using grow tents.
Grow tents are great since they let you grow in any room without the grow lights bothering you. Plus they allow you to control the humidity and temperature much better for different plants.
Skip 5 minutes in to see his explanation of the hydroponic setup. It’s a super basic one without any complicated hydroponic equipment.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How Long Do Ghost Pepper Plants Live?
Ghost pepper plants can live for several years in temperature-controlled environments (i.e. where it doesn’t freeze in the winter). If you grow them indoors they should live for 5 years or more and produce new fruits each season. You will have to add fertilizer with each new growing season. Water and care for them as you would any houseplant.
Are Ghost Pepper Plants Perennials?
Yes, ghost peppers are perennial plants. They are native to the subcontinent of India, not South America. Being from the northeastern area of Indian where temperatures remain above freezing year-round, the ghost pepper lives year-round without fear of death by freezing.
The most common peppers are native to Mexico, Central America, and northern South America. These areas do not suffer from freezing conditions during the winter that would kill most pepper plants. Grown indoors, your pepper plant can be expected to live over 5 years and produce new crops of peppers during each growing season (or possibly more if you carefully control lighting conditions to mimic Central American day length patterns through the year).
Where Do Ghost Peppers Grow?
Ghost peppers (Bhut jolokia) originally come from Northern India and Nepal (source). Temperatures in the region ranging from an average low of 61 Degrees F in the winter to an average high of 82 Degrees F in the summer (source).
Due to temperatures remaining above freezing, the ghost pepper is a perennial plant that grows indoors for 5 years or more producing new crops every year.
How Often Do You Water Ghost Peppers?
Ghost peppers grown indoors should be watered daily. Add water until it drains from the bottom of each container. Use drip trays to capture drained water. Feel the soil before watering to check for dryness or moisture. If it’s too wet, water less.
During the growing season, outdoor ghost peppers should also be watered daily. As when growing indoors check the soil moisture by hand first to see how much water is needed. Water till moist but not soaked.
Are Ghost Pepper Plants Self Pollinating?
Yes, ghost peppers are self-pollinating. You do not need to use a paintbrush to pollinate them when growing indoors.
You may get more or larger peppers if you cross-pollinate your ghost chili plants with another plant like habanero. If you choose to do that remember, that the seeds you pull from your peppers will be a cross between both plants and grows something new.