Naga jolokia peppers, also known as Bhut jolokia peppers and ghost peppers, are one of the hottest peppers in the world. Registering over 1 million Scoville units of heat, the bhut jolokia are extremely hard to grow and must be handled with proper care. A finicky plant with a very long growing season, bhut jolokia -- an interspecies hybrid of mostly Capiscum chinense (Habanera) and some Capiscum frutescens (Tabasco) -- should only be harvested with gloves, glasses and are not to be messed with. Performing best when grown indoors, bjut jolokia needs to grow in a specific temperature and requires a patient grower.
Needing more than five months of growth in hot temperatures before harvest, jolokia peppers are most comfortable in climates reminiscent of the hot and humid conditions of northern India. For that reason, growing in cooler climes than U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 11 is probably inadvisable.
Planting Jolokia Peppers
Jolokia pepper seeds must first be germinated, which begins with soaking each seed in water overnight. These peppers should be planted in a peat-based soil that drains well and is always between 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The soil should be routinely watered and never dry. While germination may happen within seven to 21 days, it may take roughly 40 days before the peppers begin to sprout. It is important the plants are not exposed to cool evening temperatures, as this can hinder their growth or even kill them.
Tips For Growing
It is a good idea to begin the indoor growing process for jolokia peppers roughly 10 to 14 weeks before the cooler temperatures settle into your area. Recreating a hot, humid environment and planting the peppers in raised beds or large containers are best for these plants because it encourages the soil to remain warm. If available, grow lights are a great tool for growing jolokia peppers. Water the plants at their base twice per week in order to keep the soil damp but not muddy.
Jolokia peppers start out green in color and slowly transform over the 140-plus days it takes them to mature to orange and then bright red. It is imperative to wear gloves when picking these peppers and avoid all contact with the eyes or face. Using garden clippers or your gloved hands, pick the peppers off the vine. Jolokia peppers can be enjoyed either fresh or dried, however it should be noted that they are more potent once dried.
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