Frequently asked questions

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Here are a selection of the most frequently asked questions. Please check here to see if your query can be answered. If not, please feel free to send an email via the "contact us" button above.

1. When should I sow my seeds in (my area)?

It really depends upon your local weather patterns. The hotter seeds do require between 28-32 degrees celsius in order to germinate efficiently. Although we have germinated as low as 20-25, the seeds have taken far longer to sprout. We sow most seeds during Autumn and Winter, but they are sown in propagators with thermostatically controlled heat mats. The seeds often sprout within 5-10 days, and this gives the plant more fruiting time during Summer and Autumn.

If you don't have access to heats mats and propagators, then you can sow them indoors late winter / early spring in the small styrofoam seed cells (usually around 20 cells per container, and avialable at most garden centers). Once sown and watered, pop the tray into a ziplock bag and seal it up. This will retain moisture. Try and keep them as warm as possible, and in the best position for catching as much sun as possible. Check here for pictures

2. Some or all of my seeds won't germinate. What's happening?

You are not the first, or the last person this has happened to. A seed is life, and is very vulnerable to many factors. Unless it is "triggered" then it will not germinate. Triggers are usually a combination of heat and water, plus the right soil type. If a seed doesn't receive the triggers then it self preservates by waiting. This is why very few seeds will germinate until planted. We effectively "trick" the seed embryo into thinking it is the right time to start growing (usually spring time) by providing near constant heat and moist growing medium. You will aslo note that seeds of the same cultivar can be erratic, but this is perfectly natural. We have had seeds germinate after 2 months, and the Tepin, being a wild variety, has occasionally germinated after around 3 months - when all hope of germination was lost. Rule of thumb is to be patient and once you feel enough seeds have germinated, then simply empty the containers outside for the next sowing session. You may be surprised to find the odd plant pops up much later in the season.

3. My Chillies don't seem as hot as they are supposed to be - why?

So, which chillies really are the hottest? You can read up on this on many web sites. Some say the Naga Jolokia's, others say the Bhut and Bih Jolokia's, and others say the Naga Morich's. Each plant differs in heat ratings, and each fruit on each plant can also differ (from personal experience) There are many factors that affect the heat also. Climate, soil and watering to name a few. Even an individual's resistance to capsaicin - the chemical responsible for the burn.

4. What's the best way to ensure strong, healthy plants?

For the soil we advise using the best potting soils possible. They usually have slow releasing nutrients in them, but you can also help by adding agricultural lime around the plant base (a handful per plant) to erradicate calcium deficiencies. we also recommend Seagro organic plant food. A foul smelling brown liquid that plants love. Apply every week or two, via foliar or soil and mix 5ml Seagro to 1L water. Best buy is a 5L bottle.

Growing Tips

Storage of seeds

If you don't intend on sowing your new chilli seeds for a while, they can be stored for up to a couple of years. Keep them in their packaging in a cool, dry and dark place, or even in the top of a fridge. Never store them in a freezer as the sudden temperature drop is likely to kill them!

Sowing seeds

Sow the seeds on top of a good sterile potting or germinating soil. Cover the seeds with a light layer of the soil and press lightly. Keep the soil moist, as this is a common cause of germination failure. Cut down on watering by covering the pot or tray with plastic film, or even seal in a large Ziplock bag. If you have a heated propagator check the optimum germination temperature and set your propagator appropriately. Sow seeds early indoors as some hot peppers can take 120+ days from transplanting to fruiting. Temp should be maintained at the indicated temp. Chilli seeds will germinate at 25C but will take longer. 30C+ is the preferred temp for hot chillies (Jolokia, Morich, Tepin and Habanero's) and they can also be slow and erratic to emerge (allow up to 35+ days for germination) soil should not be too wet to prevent the seeds from rotting. Keep seedlings out of cold draughts


Once they have sprouted, water the chilli seedlings regularly, but don't let them become waterlogged as this encourages rot. Don't let seedlings dry out as they rarely recover at this stage

Larger plants should be watered regularly and allow the top inch or so to dry out in between watering. If they do dry out and droop the chilli plants will usually recover reasonably well, just make sure that the pots are soaked (by way of apology!) and the soil properly re-hydrated. Once the plants are in their final pots and have started to become root-bound you may need to water the plants daily - do this in the morning or late evening. If you are going away, you can stand mature plants in water for a few days without them suffering too much. Another tip is to mix vermiculite into the soil mix, which will help retain moisture. Another tip is to drill a small hole (5mm or so) into the top of a small cool drink bottle and fill the bottle with water. Place the head of the bottle into the soil and the plant will water itself as required!

Potting on your chilli seedlings

When the chillies have produced their first pair of proper leaves they can be potted on into individual 10 or 12cm pots. Use good quality potting compost and use Seagro organic fertiliser weekly by diluting 5ml / litre water and spraying the leaves as well as watering the plant. Before it becomes root-bound (you'll see roots appearing through the holes in the bottom of the small pots) The plant can be further potted to the final size of pot required, which will depend on the variety grown and how big it gets! At this stage it is advisable to give the plant some agricultural lime to ensure the plant does not suffer from Calcium defficiency when fruiting (a sure sign of this is weak fruit walls). Adult chilli plants need lots of light. However, more than 4 hours or so in hot direct sunlight could dry them out quickly.

Planting out chillies

Plant them into rich moist soil. Make sure that plants have been allowed to acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 2-3 weeks before they are moved permanently outside. During this time gradually increase the amount of wind, sunshine and cooler temperatures that the plant experiences. Flowers do not form and fruit will not set if the temperature is much below 17C for most of the day

Germination tips for the hotter chillies

Soak the seeds in water overnight to soften the seed case before planting. You may also want to carefully knick some of the seeds using sandpaper to further loosen the outer casing before soaking as we have found this also reduces germination times. Be careful not to damage the seed embryo. Use a light, loose soil that will not compact, get soggy, or crust over - seed sowing compost is recommended. Lightly cover seed so seeds are 2-4mm below the soil. Put your seed trays in a warm environment where you can keep the temperature in the range of 28-32C (a thermostatic controlled electric propagator is recommended, but expensive!). This is the optimum germination temperature. Keep seeds and seedlings out of draughts. Keep the soil moist but not soggy and do not let it dry out. Germination is usually 2-4 weeks, but can be longer. These seeds are a challenge and can be slow and erratic, but the uniqueness of these hot peppers makes all the effort worth while!

Chilli Facts

Bhut Jolokia

The Bhut Jolokia is an interspecific hybrid from the Assam region of northeastern India and parts of neighbouring Bangladesh.It grows in the Indian states of Assam, Nagaland and Manipur, and the Sylhet region of Bangladesh. It can also be found in rural Sri Lanka where it is known as Nai Mirris (cobra chilli). There was initially some confusion and disagreement about whether the Bhut was a Capsicum frutescens or a Capsicum chinense pepper, but DNA tests showed it to be an interspecies hybrid, mostly C. chinense with some C. frutescens genes.

In 2007, Guinness World Records certified the Bhut Jolokia as the world's hottest chilli pepper, 401.5 times hotter than Tabasco sauce. On December 3, 2010, the Bhut Jolokia was replaced as the hottest known chilli pepper by the Naga Viper pepper, which has an average peak Scoville rating more than 300,000 points higher than an average Bhut Jolokia - but still not higher than the hottest ever recorded Dorset Naga.In February 2011, Guinness World Records awarded the title of "World's Hottest Chilli" to the Infinity chilli grown in Grantham, England. This chilli rates at 1,067,286 units on the Scoville scale. Later the same month, on February 25, 2011, the title returned to the Naga Viper pepper with a rating of 1,382,118 Scoville Heat Units (SHU). Currently these figures are highly controversial among the pepper growing community and tests with more rigorous scientific standards are yet to be conducted on the many various peppers vying for "world's hottest" status.


The exact origins of the pepper are unknown, but some speculate that it originated in South America and migrated north to Mexico and the Caribbean via Colombia; an intact fruit of a small domesticated Habanero was found in Pre-ceramic levels in Guitarrero Cave in the Peruvian highlands and was dated to 6500 B.C..

Upon its discovery by Spaniards, it was rapidly disseminated to other adequate climate areas of the world, to the point that 18th-century taxonomists mistook China for its place of origin and called it "Capsicum chinense"—the Chinese pepper.

The Scotch bonnet is often compared to the habanero since they are two varieties of the same species but have different pod types. Both the Scotch bonnet and the habanero have the characteristic thin, waxy flesh. They have a similar heat level and flavor. Although both varieties average around the same level of heat, the actual degree of "heat" varies greatly with genetics, growing methods, climate, and plant stress.

The habanero's heat, its fruity, citrus-like flavor, and its floral aroma have made it a popular ingredient in hot sauces and spicy foods. In some cases, particularly in Mexico, habaneros are placed in tequila or mezcal bottles for a period ranging from several days, to several weeks, to make a spiced version of the drink.

Habaneros thrive in hot weather. As with all peppers, the habanero does well in an area with good morning sun and in soil with a pH level around 5 to 6 (slightly acidic). The habanero should be watered only when dry. Overly moist soil and roots will produce bitter-tasting peppers.

The habanero is a perennial flowering plant, meaning that with proper care and growing conditions, it can produce flowers (and thus fruit) for many years. Habanero bushes are good candidates for a container garden. However, in temperate climates it is treated as an annual, dying each winter and being replaced the next spring. In tropical and sub-tropical regions, the habanero, like other chiles, will produce year round. As long as conditions are favorable, the plant will set fruit continuously.

Black habanero is an alternative name often used to describe the dark brown variety of habanero chilis. Seeds have been found that are thought to be over 7000 years old. It has an exotic and unusual taste. Small slivers used in cooking can have a dramatic effect on the overall dish. Gourmets delight in its fiery heat and unusual flavor. Black habaneros take considerably longer to grow than other Habanero chili varieties. In a dried form they can be preserved for long periods of time, and can be reconstituted in water then added to sauce mixes. Previously known as habanero negra, or by their Nahuatl name, they were translated into English by spice traders in the 19th century as "black habanero". The word "chocolate" was derived from the Nahuatl word, "xocolatl", and was used in the description as well, but it proved to be unpronounceable to the British traders, so it was simply named "black habanero"


Chillis are loaded with vitamin A, a potent antioxidant and boost to the immune system. As the pods mature and darken, high quantities of vitamin C are gradually replaced with beta carotene and the capsaicin levels are at their highest. Due to these capsaicin levels, some believe that eating chillis may have an extra thermic affect, temporarily speeding up the metabolic rate, hence burning off calories at a faster rate. Whatever, you certainly do sweat and actually cool down in hot climates as sweat evaporates. Your nose runs, your head clears ... you can breath! And with that extra flow of saliva, the gastric juices also flow. The alkaloids from the capsaicin stimulate the action of stomach and intestine improving the whole digestion process!

Beyond soothing gastric wonders and taste delights, the very nature of fiery capsaicin has been medicinally beneficial down through the ages and put to use for some chronic health woes. These same heat inducing properties have a cumulative effect and over time are believed to alleviate pain when used in transdermal treatments for arthritis, nerve disorders (neuralgia), shingles and severe burns... even cluster headaches. The mucus thinning properties promote coughing and can act as an expectorant for asthmatic conditions. Other claims are boosts to the immune system due to the antioxidants, lowering cholesterol, and blood thinning properties beneficial for the heart and blood vessels


Is the active component of chili peppers, which are plants belonging to the genus Capsicum. It is an irritant for mammals, including humans, and produces a sensation of burning in any tissue with which it comes into contact.

Capsaicin is present in large quantities in the placental tissue (which holds the seeds), the internal membranes and, to a lesser extent, the other fleshy parts of the fruits of plants in the genus Capsicum. The seeds themselves do not produce any capsaicin, although the highest concentration of capsaicin can be found in the white pith of the inner wall, where the seeds are attached.


(approximates only. Source data from various websites)



Naga Morich, Bhut Jolokia, Bih Jolokia, Trinidad Scorpion, Naga Viper, Infinity Chilli 1,000,000 +
Red Savina Habanero 580,000
Caribbean Red Habanero 450,000 +
Scotch Bonnet Habanero 200,000 - 325,000
Habanero 100,000 - 325,000
Thai Dragon, Jamaica Gold, Santake', Jamaica Red 75,000 - 150,000
Pico de Pajaro, Chile Piquin, Charleston Hot 70,000 - 100,000
Chipotle, Diablo Grande', China Express 60,000 - 100,000
Ring of Fire, Golden Cayenne 70,000 - 85,000
White Fire 40,000 - 70,000
Cayenne, Chile Grande' 35,000 - 55,000
Tabasco, Aji Amarillo 30,000 - 50,000
Super Cayenne, Super Cayenne II, Tears of Fire Hybrid, Varingata 25,000 - 55,000
Super Chilli Hybrid, Cayenne Large Red-(Thick), Cayenne Long Slim 20,000 - 40,000
Chile de Arbol, Japones 15,000 - 30,000
Serrano 10,000 - 25,000
Yellow Wax/Hungarian Wax, Puya 5,000 - 15,000
Kung Pao Hybrid, Costeno Rojo 7,000 - 12,000
Louisiana Hot, Biker Billy Jalapeno, Pasilla de Oaxaca 4,000 - 10,000
Pretty Purple Pepper, Giant Thai Hot, Mitla, Jalapa, Hybrid #7, Grande', Pecos F-1, Tula F1 4,000 - 8,000
Jalapeno, Chilcostle 3,500 - 5,000
Miasol, Saber Hybrid, Anaheim TMR-23, Onza Rojo, Ole' Pup, Volcano, Cherry Bomb, Inferno, Serrano Tampinqueno, Red Cherry, Huasteco 2,500 - 5,000
Garden Salsa Hybrid, Jalapa Hybrid, Guajillo, Mesilla, Serrano chilli-(Mild), Hungarian Heat, Garden Salsa F-1, MexiBell Imp. 2,000 - 4,500
Sandia', Cascabel 1500 - 2500
Ancho, Poblano, Crimson Hot, Poinsettia, Cascabel 1250 - 2500
Tam Mild Jalapeno, Szentesi Semi-Hot, Chihuacle Negro, Costeno Amarillo 1,250 - 2,000
Pasilla, Espanola, Prairie Fire, Ancho Gigantia 1,000 - 1,500
NuMex Big Jim, Floral Gem 1,000 - 1,400
Mulato Isleno, Negro/Pasilla, NuMex Joe E. Parker 900 - 1,500
Anaheim, New Mexico, Aji Mirasol, NuMex Twilight, Ancho Vila, Romanian Hot Hybrid 800 - 1,400
Aji Panca, NuMex Sunburst, NuMex Sunglow, Ancho Ranchero, Jalepe' Mild Hybrid 500 - 1000
Cowhorn 350 - 500
Senorita Jalapeno, False Alarm Hybrid, Salsa Delight, Marbles 250 - 500
Delicias, Trinadad 200 - 500
Cherry Pepper, Mexi-Bells 100 - 500
Pasilla Bajio, Anaheim-(Mild) 100 - 250
Mild Bell Pepper, Sweet Banana, Pimento 0