Chili pepper, sweet pepper, cayenne pepper
Fruits and Vegetables, Herbs
Start inside 3 months before last frost, with soil and air temperatures of 70-85F/21-31C to germinate, 80s better. Bottom heat quite helpful. Keep at same temperatures for optimum growth, until the third set of true leaves appear, then allow several weeks with night temperatures down to about 55-60F/12-15C, before returning to some 70F/21C. Provide excellent light, high humidity and deep rich well-drained soil at all stages; soil should be kept both warm and moist.
The ideal seedling has buds, but no open flowers, at the time of moving it out into the garden, though even fruiting specimens may be transplanted. Transplant at least 2 weeks after last frost. Nights must be warm; harden plants off gradually. Set 2" deeper than before, spacing 12" apart. Soil should contain adequate phosphorus and calcium, but hold back on nitrogen; provide ample water on at least a weekly basis. Stresses, especially dry spells, will produce hotter fruits, if fewer.
Note that peppers are perennials, though frost tender. They may be moved indoors before the first fall frost to continue producing, and can even be overwintered and moved back out in spring, though I prefer to restart from seed. Various hot peppers previously referred to as Capsicum frutescens.
Christmas pepper, cherry pepper (Capsicum annuum)
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