Introduction: Growing the Carolina Reaper

Picture of Growing the Carolina Reaper

The Carolina Reaper sometimes wrongly known as the Californian reefer is the worlds hottest chilli/pepper and holds the world record for its immense heat. On the scovil rating it is a eye watering 2.2 million. I purchased my very own reaper only a few months ago and was supprised to find no help or guidance on growing them; as such I have made this instructable for all you budding chilli growers. This plant can be difficult to grow so my best advice is do your research :) Thanks

I appologise for my terrible spelling but im sure you know what I mean :)

Step 1: Growing From Seed or Small Sprout??

Now have you bought seeds or have you got a sprouting plant? If you have a sprouting plant skip to step 3

The Carolina reaper needs heat and light when germanating so I would highly suggest starting them in a mini incubator on a window ledge as you will get the most heat and plenty of sun. You could also grow them in a glass permanant green house provided it is hot enough and has plenty of light; however I would NOT recommend trying to grow them from seed in a mini plastic green house as I do not believe they would be ideal. The Reapers will need damp soil (NOT SODDEN), I would suggest using a mist gun when watering.


Prepare your container, makesure there is some drainage in the bottom and sit it a recepticle to catch excess water (especially if on a window sill). Get some compost and fill your container to the relevant level (do not use large pots to start with an incubator tray is the perfect size). Wet the soil through with some water and poor the excess from the receptical away. If you have a single seed try to plant it as centraly as possible, if you have multiple seeds space them evenly. For a standard size incubator use four seeds in one incubator. Place the seeds atop the compost, push them in half way and cover them. If using an incubator place the lid on top and leave in your chosen place; otherwise place in your green house.

Step 2: Maintainance

Your seeds are now getting ready to sprout, keep misting the compost well and keep it in the sun as much as possible. DO NOT FEED YOUR PLANTS AT THIS POINT! Try to resist repeatedly removing the lid as it will reduce the temperature in the incubator, you should remove the lid oocassionaly to allow fresh air inside (only once every two days). If the compost looks dry apply more water but not too much, if the compost looks too wet allow to evaporate. Not too much, not too little is the key.

Step 3: Your Sprouting Plant

So all has gone well so far and the seeds have sprouted. Allow them to get to a largish size before transplanting to a pot. When you have your plants get a small pot and fill it with compost; get your plant from the tray making sure not to damage the root and put it in one hand. Use your other hand to make a hole in your compost and slide the plants roots in. Cover the bottom of the plant and press (or firm) it in with your thumbs so that your compost is lightly compacted, now water your plant plenty and leave it. Put your plant in a green house glass or otherwise; your plant needs to go in one eitherway.

This chilli is damaged by sudden changes in temperature and will wilt. If you are using a pop-up or push together greenhouse then make sure you weight it down and put it somewhere with lots of sun e.g a patio. Apply water when neccesary (every two days or so) but dont allow to go dry or sodden, I personaly recommend buying a green house thermometer as it will help you look after you plant. This chilli likes temperatures around 80 degrees tops and 60 minimum; although the plants wont die below 60 they wont be comfortable and will struggle to grow and fruit. Try to keep it in this temp range as it will aid growing greatly.

Step 4: Growing

Your plants are now growing bigger and bigger, they will need bigger and bigger pots or they will become pot bound. You can generaly tell when it is neccesary to change containers but if you are unsure hang on a bit longer. Keep your growing plant inside the greenhouse and keep watered. It wont be long until your chillis flower and fruit. DO NOT FEED YET!! it is very important not to feed yet as I will explain next.

Step 5: Flowering and Fruiting

Once your plant has flowered it will begin to fruit, ONLY AFTER the plant has flowered should you feed it as it will help to produce a greater healthier yield. Use a fruit and veg feed, tomatoe feed will do fine. Soon you will have some strange looking fruit forming, the fruit will look disgusting when grown but thats just how they look and no you havent grown some mutant killer pepper that will take over the earth. Once red harvest your peppers. If peppers are nearly ripe but not quite take them inside and leave them on some tissue infront of a window with sun and they will self rippen. Your plant will keep producing so make sure you can use them as youll soon have lots.



ASHYR (author)2017-10-04

Good job writing this

JasonReeder (author)2017-09-16

As promised .. picture of the so called Ghost Chilli (Tell me what you think .. Ghost or not) ...

The others are Scorpion and Black Pearls. (App 4 - 6 weeks old)

Hopefully soon I will have pics of Reapers growing happily under the Queensland sun :)

JasonReeder (author)2017-09-16

Hi everyone .. I know this is rather an old topic now .. but it certainly has a TON of really good quality information from a lot of knowledgeable people.

Anyways, I am going to start a sort of mini blog you could say, within this forum, following the progress, from start to finish, of some 80 plus Reaper seeds.

First off, the seeds have come from an Australian based EBAY member.
Problem with that is its very hard to confirm if they are actual Reaper seeds as Ebay's time frames on buyer feedback don't allow enough time for someone to actually grow a plant to fruition. Much less enough time to grow a seed to the point where it could be accurately identified.

I currently have Scorpion, Scotch Bonnet, Black Pearl and Habanero seedlings growing, all are around 3-4 inches high now growing outside quite happily.

I have one Ghost chilli plant that started flowering really early due to a period of unusually warm weather in the middle of winter here. However the fruit on it do not look like ghost chillis. Long slender pods and the plant leaves are quite small. Bought a few seeds from a vendor of "Hot Chilli Chocolate" at a Brisbane market. Fairly certain they were just ebay seeds being resold. Will put a picture up later for possible confirmation of me being "HAD" :)

So just a quick over view:

Location - Brisbane Australia.
Temp - Fluctuates between highs of 30 F to lows of around 15 F overnight. But these will only increase as we have just started spring.

Will try germination methods including store bought seed raising mix mixed with a little Coco Coir to help moisture retention. Will also try soaking some seeds first, and will also try germination using damp paper towels/cotton wool etc.

Red_Jacket (author)2016-05-22

My pepper's flowers keep popping off!? I don't know what's going wrong, I put them in buckets, put them outside on a calm day to soak up the sun but the flowers keep dying a popping off. Help me boba, you're my only hope <----- Starwars reference.... ;3 But really, what's going on?

Boba Jett (author)Red_Jacket2016-05-22

Hello again!! Hahahahaha I apprieciate any star wars reference. That's is strange, when I first grew reapers I had the same problem however with mine the problem solved itself before I got to troubleshooting. How often do you feed and water the plants? If the plant is lacking either then the plant will activate its survival response and stop production. I hope this helps and look forward to your reply!!!!! Happy Growing!!!!!

Red_Jacket (author)Boba Jett2016-05-23

I fertilize them about every week and water every time the top of the soil gets dry, I try to keep the soil moist.... Also, now leaves are falling off!?!

Boba Jett (author)Red_Jacket2016-05-24

Hello and thank you for comment!!! Did you put any holes in the bottom of your buckets? If not your plants maybe saturated in the bottoms and could be the cause. I hope this helps!!! Happy Growing!!!!

Red_Jacket (author)Boba Jett2016-05-24

I stabbed a couple of holes in the buckets, are these big enough? The buckets seemed to pour quite a bit of water when I did...

JasonReeder (author)Red_Jacket2017-09-15

"Thats not a knife ..... This is a knife !"

Crocodile Dundee quote :)

But seriously ... you could certianly kill alot of buckets with that thing :)

Red_Jacket (author)JasonReeder2017-09-16

No bucket escapes my nif >:)

Red_Jacket (author)Red_Jacket2016-05-24

Btw, thank you for being so helpful! You've saved my peppers!

Boba Jett (author)Red_Jacket2016-05-27

Hello again!!! Its great to hear that it has worked!! Enjoy your peppers!!! Happy growing!!!!

DockomockoP (author)Red_Jacket2016-06-02

how are they doing now? Being 11 days ago when you posted this. I am curious, my 1st carolina reaper grow, I dont know what to expect

Red_Jacket (author)DockomockoP2016-06-12

They've produced peppers :D!!!!!

BevT3 (author)Red_Jacket2016-06-01

Hi, iv'e just come across your post and have the answer :)

I bet you are growing them indoors? I had the same problem when i started to grow chillies too (in the greenhouse). Just after my flowers were finishing they were dropping off just as the bud of the would be chilli was starting to form. It's because they need to be pollinated for the fruiting to happen successfully. Outside bees etc can do this for you but indoors there's nothing to help. You will need a cotton bud. Gently dust from inside each flower going to the next and the next after that with this same cotton bud. In essence you are pollinating as if you were a bee. You should notice your flowers staying on the plant after that and should yield a nice little crop. I did some research into all of it when I was having the same problem and after hand pollinating all was well. Good luck!

Red_Jacket (author)BevT32016-06-09

Wow, that's amazingly helpful... Thank you!

Pepperchop (author)2016-08-16

Grew these in a wallmounted greenhouse in Copenhagen, Denmark. Are the red ones ready to harvest, or do I need to leave them on for some time?

Pepperchop (author)Pepperchop2016-09-01

Never mind. Tried one. They where ready... ..

JasonReeder (author)Pepperchop2017-09-15

Had a good laugh over that comment ... :)

Boba Jett (author)Pepperchop2016-09-18

Hello and thank you for your comment!! Sorry for the late reply. Hope you are happy with your reapers and well done with your growing success!!! Happy Growing Boba

Pepperchop (author)Boba Jett2016-09-18

I am very happy with them. Got 60 reapers out of it. Have made powder and tabasco out of it. Tried one whole and I am never going to do that again :)

swamidoc (author)2016-07-24

Glad to find this site! I have reapers growing in 5 gallon drained buckets outside in Pensacola, FL. I used a mix of miracle grow potting soil, manure and garden soil (bags). They grew from seeds and now are about 20"-24" tall, but are dropping flowers and a couple are looking a bit pale and don't have the lush leaves like photos I've seen. I did cut the top off one to have it bush out (it worked) and it is still growing without buds. It can get pretty hot here (high 80s this week, up to 96 last week, but other peppers are fruiting & developing well (cayenne, jalapeno). It has also been raining fairly often. I came across another site that suggested magnesium (Epsom salts) and calcium to supplement nutrients lost from excessive watering. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

Boba Jett (author)swamidoc2016-08-15

Hello and thank you for your comment!!!! How often do you water your reaper? Also do you grow indoors? Awaiting your reply, Boba

swamidoc (author)Boba Jett2016-08-27

Thanks very much for getting back to me! Flowers are still dropping (I also have Trinidad Scorpions-same thing)... They are outside and I was watering daily until I read about letting the top inch or so dry out thoroughly, so I'm now doing that. However, Pensacola has been getting heavy rains 3-6 times weekly. And, about 2 weeks after I wrote my first note, we had a 10 day monsoon that stopped about 10 days ago. I've wondered if all the rain has depleted the nutrients in the soil (combination of Miracle gro potting soil, bagged garden soil and bagged manure). The leaves seem a bit greener from the bit of epsom salts I added.

Boba Jett (author)swamidoc2016-09-18

Hello and sorry for my very late reply its been very busy over in the UK. That could be possible, how s the plant doing now? And what is the weather like? Boba

swamidoc (author)Boba Jett2016-09-21

Hi again, I responded above ("No problem at all) but the site put it on top.. Now I have another confusion. Some of my pepper babies are getting some brown on them (please see photo) . Still wondering about fertilizer/nutrients. Thanks again!

JasonReeder (author)swamidoc2017-09-15

Over Watering ?? Maybe ??

swamidoc (author)Boba Jett2016-09-18

Hi Boba,
No problem at all. I too have been so busy I've nearly neglected the plants other than moving them to get good sun. So, most plants now have multiple peppers that look just the way they should. I am VERY excited. The weather has become cooler. High 80s to low 90s F day and low to mid 70s F at night. I did add a bit of Epsom salts to each a month ago but nothing else. Still raining regularly, no need to water, but somewhat less intensely. Would still like your thoughts on fertilizers/nutrients to replace nutrient loss to maximize both Scoville value and production. Thanks for getting back to me.

TacomaRodeo made it! (author)2017-09-05

My First Reaper plant has about 30 pods so far. Nice haul.

JennY8 made it! (author)2017-07-22

Hi, I got my plant from a greenhouse and have been trying to grow it but not having much luck. I feed it miracle grow and think i may have ruined it now. But i gave that to my other hot peppers plants from the caribbean plants and they are growing just fine. They are budding and fruiting but not my reaper. I was thinking i may have to move it to a bigger pot then the one i transferred it to once i got them home. Would someone please let me know what i did wrong and what i can do to fix it since i really want this pepper? Thank you

Its the one to the far left in image

NathanM233 (author)2017-07-10

WHY are all the buds falling off my plants?? Bought 3 plants a little over a month ago from a farmers market. They were still in the small black seeding trays so I replanted them as soon as I got home. Started to notice the leaves were being eaten by something so I dusted them and I am now finding dead beetles in the pot so that worked. But now I have noticed the buds starting to appear but they are falling off, most of them before they are even opening. Any ideas on why this might be happening? Thanks for any help

Diclark (author)2017-06-28

I've found two practices that help: I collect rain water to mist them with and I have a tube LED light about 3 feet above them. They do not like direct sunlight so I only put them in the sun for a couple hours in the late afternoon. With the LED light and sun they lean toward the light. The rainwater really seems to perk them up, too.

AlasdairH3 (author)2017-06-26

Hi, I have a healthy plant of about 90 days, maybe more. I have noticed small buds growing but it seems the plant is simply growing more shoots and leaves than developing the buds so they will flower then fruit. Is there a point where I need to clip the leaves so the plant will focus its energy on budding-flowering-fruiting?

lifer7870 (author)2017-06-25

My plant looked amazing until yesterday. It was healthy and starting to show blooms. Then yesterday it looked wilted and today it is losing leaves. We live in a dry hot climate. What did I do wrong?

CR Products (author)2017-05-29


I just got 6 fresh Reaper pods from a mate. I would like to grow them, but not sure how to prep the seeds. 3 of the six I have removed the meat and 3 pods are still intact. See pic added. Can I germinate the fresh seeds or do they have to be dried first?



you need to fully dry the seed before you try to germinate them. This applies to all types of seed. The Carolina Reaper is at least a 200 day plant regardless of the claims made by many sellers of so called reaper seed. Save you dried seed for next year and then plant it in January or no later than February 2018. In the meantime you can purchase quality reaper plants on EBay or Amozon. I have reaper plants listed at both sources which were planted in January and will soon be blooming.

Jtiverson made it! (author)2017-03-31

this is my 2nd time trying to grow these. I'm in Minnesota so I started about5 weeks ago. I have 10 plants that are about 2-3" tall. I have them inside and temp is 75-80 degrees. I have good drainage and I'm using a timed release fertilizer for vegetables. I'm using a floresent light on a timer. They're getting 9 hours of light, 13 hours of darkness. Last years plant didn't make it and I would love to get some peppers out of this batch. Any advice will be greatly appreciated. Everyone's plants look awesome!!

redthatsme (author)Jtiverson2017-05-03

Unfortunately 9 hours of light (and fluorescent to boot) is probably not going to cut it. You're going to need specific grow lights and give at least 12-14 hours a day light for these bad boys! There are some good led grow lights on Amazon, the red and purple square ones work great for peppers!

SissyG4 (author)2016-09-22

A friend gave me a Seedling and I have been babying it to the point it is now. I don't usually have much luck growing plants so I'm very proud of myself! The Kansas summer has proven to be a perfect environment. I put it outside after the last threats of freezing were past. It has gotten wilty over the summer from time to time but a good watering always pops it back up. 8 to 10 are forming now and there are dozens of buds that are turning into pods. I just repotted it last week and it seems to be thriving. The Roots were extraordinary! Do you have any tips or suggestions for storing the peppers? Can they be frozen etc?

sum_jazz (author)SissyG42017-01-01

I like to dehydrate them and grind to a fine powder. Then cook with the powder as a spice.

grazy666 (author)2016-12-31

i germinate my seeds by putting them in damp tissue folded then in a chinese takeaway tuppeeware box in a dark drawer. never had a seed not germinate. some do within a week or so and others take up to 2 or 3 weeks so dont throw them away

MauricioA47 (author)2016-12-28

hello to all. maybe someone can help me on this
I bought from AMazon, Saavy Seeds, some carolina reaper seeds
I did manage that 1 of the seeds germinated, but it doesnt look like a Carolina reaper, can you please help me identify this pepper ?

MarkGardener (author)2016-09-15

I'm in Brisbane. Back in late January/early February I planted about half a dozen seeds. Long story short, only one made it. By the time the remaining small seedling had become established we were heading into autumn and winter, so growth was slow......but steady. Now, in early spring, I have a healthy flourishing plant ready for a warm season growth spurt. I also have about another half-dozen seeds I didn't use, so I'll be planting them shortly. I have a question though. Can someone tell me at what point it's likely to start fruiting?

Boba Jett (author)MarkGardener2016-09-18

Hello and thank you for your comment!!! With reapers I like to start planting in the early part of the year using small indoor incubators and natural sun light. Then the reapers are ready to do some serious growing in the summer when it is brightest and warmest. I would expect your plant to flower soon if you still have light and warmth, otherwise it could be when you get warmer weather. By the way how long has that plant been in the same pot? Hope this helps and happy growing!!!

MarkGardener (author)Boba Jett2016-12-04

I've just today taken the first couple of chilies from it. It's been in the same pot for most of its life. Why do you ask? Lately the new leaves have been coming out kind of crinkled. The people at the local nursery said it's due to mites, so I've just sprayed it for that. I have three new seedlings growing. If I extract seeds from the fruit will they grow reapers ( I read somewhere that seeds from hybrids won't grow true to parent plant)?

Hydrolady13 (author)2016-09-01

I am growing in Hydroponic Ebb and flow system indoors how long until i peppers i have flowers.

LarryT45 (author)Hydrolady132016-10-11

I grow my reapers in a DWC setup. Been growing about 5 months under Vipaspectra 300w LEDS. Plant is beginning to produce pods, however small at the bottom of the plant and larger towards the top

Boba Jett (author)Hydrolady132016-09-18

Hello and thank you for your comment!! I am very sorry for my late reply. I have never used hydroponics before so I am not entirely sure how the plants will react and I am not sure how old your plant is. At an estimated guess I would say after initial growth and once the plant has thickened up, peppers will develop in a couple of weeks. I hope this helps and happy growing!!

marcoG100 (author)2016-09-25

Hi there,

I've started 3 weeks ago my first experience of growing reapers. I've started a little late but as I live in Portugal, weather is very good in Southern Europe. From the 10 seeds, 6 have sprouted already. Besides autumm started already, temperature here is still at 28ºC (82.4F)

Abrori made it! (author)2016-09-24

hi! im from indonesia, this is the second time i've been trying to grow
my own carolina reaper indoor (been about 14 days now), my first time
seeding fail. so i use cotton instead of soil this time, i just put the
seed in cotton surface and it grow like in picture below (sorry for the
blurry image) so im wondering is this the right time to transplant these
pepper to a bigger pot?

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