The Carolina Reaper Planting Guide: A To Zing

| Last Updated: September 5, 2019 | ,

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None more hot in the garden…

If you’re looking to grow sun-like spiciness, there is nothing more wicked than the Carolina Reaper. This is the hottest pepper in the world, so don’t approach this chili lightly. The oils of this pepper, even when still whole on the vine, can cause major chili burn so approach Carolina Reaper planting with care. Use gloves when caring for your plants, and double-down with kitchen goggles when you’re cooking with this pepper. Still here? Ready for the extreme of extremes? Let’s review what you need to know to successfully grow Carolina Reaper peppers.

Carolina Reaper planting fast facts

Scoville heat units:
The Carolina Reaper’s rating on the Scoville scale ranges from 1,400,000 – 2,200,000 SHU.

PepperScale profile page:

Buy Carolina Reaper seeds:
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Light requirements:
Like most hot peppers, Carolina Reapers require full sun.

Soil requirements:
You will want to plant your Carolina Reapers in well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter.

Space requirements:
Plant the seedlings approximately 4 feet away from neighboring plants.

Water requirements:
Plants should be given at least 2 inches of water per week but take care to avoid overwatering.

Carolina Reaper plants take roughly 90 days to get to the point of sexual maturity, which is when they will be ready to produce fruit.

Plant size:
When planted in the ground or a suitably large container, Carolina Reaper plants grow to be approximately 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide.

Chili size:
Peppers are 1 to 3 inches long and 1 to 3 inches wide.

The Carolina Reaper is a container-friendly plant; you will need a container with at least a three-gallon capacity.

The site and season: Where and when to grow Carolina Reaper

As with most super hot peppers, you are better off starting your Carolina Reapers indoors. Move seedlings outdoors once there is no danger of frost damage and they have grown to a height of at least six inches. You will want to do this only after daytime temperatures average about 70 degrees Fahrenheit and the temperatures at night are no longer dipping below 50 °F. Like most peppers, Carolina Reapers do best in warm weather but have little tolerance for weather above 85 °F. Overly hot weather can cause them to lose blossoms and stop producing fruit.

Carolina Reapers prefer soil with a pH of approximately 6.5.

If you are growing your Carolina Reapers in a container, note that 3 gallons is the minimum container size but is not optimal. Ideally, you will want to place them in a 5-gallon container or they may not be as productive as they can be.

Feeding and watering Carolina Reaper plants: How often and how much

Fish emulsion or 5-10-5 fertilizer is fine for fertilizing your pepper plant. Start fertilizing only after your Carolina Reaper has started showing blossoms. You should also provide your pepper plant with magnesium in the form of Epsom salts. You will want to avoid fertilizing with high-nitrogen fertilizers; these will not be beneficial for fruit production.

Provide the pepper plant with about 2 inches of water weekly but decrease that amount once there is fruit on the plant. Water stress can help to increase the heat of your peppers.

Carolina Reaper harvesting: When to pick

You can pick your Carolina Reapers while they are green, but you will get more heat and flavor from them if you wait for them to ripen. Reapers will turn bright red when they are ripe. Note that these are very hot peppers, so you may need to handle them carefully. Consider wearing disposable latex gloves when harvesting.

Carolina Reaper plant care: What to watch out for

Mosaic is a common disease spread by aphids and whitefly. Pepper mosaic results in narrow, thickened leaves. In plants that are severely affected, the only real remedy is to pull the plants up and dispose of them to prevent healthy plants being infected. To control an aphid problem, you should consider getting ladybugs as these are predators of the aphid. Other control methods include spraying with water to remove them manually from the plant and the use of insecticidal soap.

Matt Bray

Matt Bray

Chief Chilihead at Cindermint
Founder of PepperScale and Cindermint LLC. Sucker for a good scotch bonnet. Spicy food super-fan. Current fiery fascination: Datil hot sauces.


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