Bhut Jolokia the hottest pepper in the world was, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, officially replaced as the hottest pepper in the world in June 2011 by Trinidad Scorpion Butch T. Bhut Jolokia has a Scoville Heat Unit rating of 1,001,304 Scoville Heat Units. Trinidad Scorpion Butch T outscored that to win the distinction of world’s hottest pepper with an SHU rating of 1,463,700. Because of the tremendous role that growing conditions and genetics can play in the eventual heat of a pepper, plus the subjectivity of testing methods, there is still much legitimate debate as to which pepper would be the hottest, given the same growing conditions and testing.
Bhut Jolokia peppers and Trinidad Scorpion peppers are beautiful plants and can be considered as ornamentals to add to your edible landscape or to display in containers or pots. The fruit is fun to watch change colors, and often one fruit will display two or more vivid colors at a time.
It is highly unlikely that you will find Bhut Jolokia plants or seeds at your local nursery, so you will probably need to mail order them. Seeds will store in the freezer for five years with good germination, but purchased seeds should be less than 2 to 3 years old. To assure that you get what you ordered, purchase from a reputable source. Strains of Bhut Jolokia include Yellow Bhut Jolokia, Chocolate Bhut Jolokia, Naga Jolokia and Naga Morich. Trinidad Scorpion cultivars include Trinidad Scorpion Butch T, Trinidad Scorpion 7 Pot Yellow Moruga, Trinidad Scorpion 7 Pot Barrackapor, Trinidad Scorpion 7 Pot Yellow, Trinidad Scorpion 7 Pot Cardi, Trinidad Scorpion 7 Pot Jonah, and Trinidad Scorpion 7 Pot Douglah.
How to Grow Bhut Jolokia and Trinidad Scorpion Peppers
Bhut Jolokia peppers, unlike other peppers, are difficult to grow. They require much time and carefully monitored conditions to produce a crop. Pepper plants are perennials, and can live and produce fruit for as long as 10 years in frost free areas. Pepper plants will die if subjected to frost.
Hot peppers perform best in soil that is somewhat nutrient rich, drains well, and maintains moisture. When feeding plants, avoid excess nitrogen, which will stimulate vegetative growth at the expense of pepper set. Plants will benefit from being fed every 2 to 4 weeks. Feedings should consist of potassium, phosphorous, and calcium, plus other minerals.
Start pepper seeds inside under bright lights and/or in a sunny window eight weeks before your last frost. Sow seeds 1/4 inch deep and keep the seed beds warm, between 80 and 85°F. You may need a seed propagation mat to maintain such warm soil. Do not allow seeds to dry out, and do not allow them to stay soggy, since either will kill the embryo. Germination can take 36 days to begin, and may take up to 80 days, so be patient.
Transplant outside 2 to 3 weeks after your last frost date, when soil is at least 50°F and temperatures have steadied. To warm soil and keep it warm, black plastic mulch is beneficial. If you get a heavy fruit set, stake plants in order to avoid stem breakage. Avoid planting peppers in soil where Solonaceae plants such as tomatoes, egg plants, and tobacco have grown in the last 2 to 3 years.
Bhut Jolokia peppers require a very long, warm growing season, as much as 160 days, before the first pepper will be ready to harvest. It is not uncommon for the plants to drop their first set of blossoms, thus not set any pods until the second set of blooms. Being exposed to cool night temperatures, generally lower than 55°F, will cause blossoms to drop. Covering them during these periods and then promptly removing covers when it warms up, especially on a sunny day, can help to avoid this.
Bhut Jolokia peppers are a naturally occurring cross between Capsicum chinense and Capsicum frutescens, which makes it difficult for them to self pollinate. If grown inside or in a greenhouse, the blossoms will need to be hand pollinated. When grown outside, pod set is best when grown next to a habanero pepper plant.
Hot peppers can be grown in containers or pots. The pot should be at least 12 inches wide and 12 inches deep with drainage holes. Containers will need to be checked daily, more often during hot and/or windy periods, and watered when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch. Most peppers only grow to, at most, 3 feet tall.
How to Save Bhut Jolokia Seeds
Peppers will readily interbreed with any other pepper in the vicinity, including sweet bell peppers. So if you plan on saving seeds, only grow one variety or isolate them. Different varieties must be grown at least 25 feet, but preferably 50 feet apart to maintain consistent genetics. Interbreeding will not affect the flavor of the peppers of the current year, but the seeds will not come true to their variety for the next crop.
To separate seeds, wear rubber gloves and consider wearing face protection. Allow seeds to air dry for several days in a warm location out of the sun until they are thoroughly dry. Store seeds in an airtight container in a dark, cool place or in your freezer.
Source for seeds, plants, and information:
New Mexico State University’s Chile Pepper Institute, whose staff discovered the Bhut Jolokia pepper: chilepepperinstitute.org
Source for seeds, plants, and information:
Refining Fire Chiles: myorganicseeds.auctivacommerce.com