Introduction: 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.



NathanM233 made it!(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 made it!(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 made it!(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 made it!(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+ made it!(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?



terrilandcolleen made it!(author)2017-06-03

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 made it!(author)2017-05-03

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 made it!(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 made it!(author)2017-01-01

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

grazy666 made it!(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 made it!(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 made it!(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 made it!(author)2016-09-18

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 made it!(author)2016-12-04

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 made it!(author)2016-09-01

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

LarryT45 made it!(author)2016-10-11

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 made it!(author)2016-09-18

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 made it!(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?

swamidoc made it!(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 made it!(author)2016-08-15

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

swamidoc made it!(author)2016-08-27

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 made it!(author)2016-09-18

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 made it!(author)2016-09-21

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!

swamidoc made it!(author)2016-09-18

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.

koh139 made it!(author)2016-09-20

Hey Boba,

Thanks for putting this together. Great insight. I live in a New York City apartment with mostly west facing windows. A friend recently gave me fresh batch of reapers and I'd like to try to grow some plants. Seeing as we're about to go into winter, how would you suggest handling the seeds. Should I plant now or keep them in a cool spot until spring?

Thanks in advance!

Mountain+Jew made it!(author)2016-09-18

Hi, long time chilli enthusiast, first time grower of anything. Just had a couple questions, is it absolutely necessary to have a greenhouse? I love in Melbourne, au and we are just coming out of winter and into summer so there should be plenty of heat, but I don't really want to screw anything up especially as I'll be going to the UK for October and leaving the seeds in someone's care

Pepperchop made it!(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 made it!(author)2016-09-01

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

Boba+Jett made it!(author)2016-09-18

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 made it!(author)2016-09-18

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 :)

Anexcellentusername made it!(author)2016-09-17

Here's my Carolina Reaper that has been growing in the often damp Scottish climate. Just waiting for some flowers to set. Any tips for keeping over winter?

Boba+Jett made it!(author)2016-09-18

Hello and thank you for your comment!!! Your reaper is looking very well. I personally like to either bring my plants in doors over winter (if I only have a few) or if I have a lot I put them in the green house with a paraffin heater for when it is cold. I hope this helps and happy growing!!!

MichaelD409 made it!(author)2016-07-16

Just thought I would share this with the community. My first one!!!

MichaelD409 made it!(author)2016-08-05

Just thought I would give a little update from damp and dreary UK. I now have at least a dozen of these fiery freaks on my main plant. A plant that is almost 4 feet tall and starting to take over my tiny greenhouse. The one pictured above has now reddened up nicely but remained that size and shape. All the other peppers are like the ones pictured in this blog and one or two are almost the size of my thumb - will add a pic later in the week.

My other 3 plants which are about half the height are only just starting to produce peppers.

I could use some advice for over wintering in a greenhouse, from any UK growers, and later in the year.

Boba+Jett made it!(author)2016-08-15

Hello again!! Its good to hear all is well, I personally heat my green house with heater. In the UK its usually quite hard to hold on so if I have some basic cayenne's I will harvest the seeds and give the plant away and then use the extra space for the rest of my reapers. Hope this helps!!! Boba

MichaelD409 made it!(author)2016-09-07

I need to ask something.

I just cut up one of my ripe Reapers, and there is little black bits in there. They do not appear to be seeds, but i could be wrong. Any ideas?

Also, is it just me or do these bad boys smell really sweet, and not at all spicy?

Boba+Jett made it!(author)2016-09-18

Hello and thank you for your comment!!! I am very sorry for my late reply. I have never come across small black bits in my plants, if anyone else has and knows what these are please comment. I`ve found I usually get a bit of sweet and a bit of spicy with each batch. I hope this helps and happy growing!!!

DanielM658 made it!(author)2016-08-14

This pepper is the reaper seeds i got does it look a reaper?

JeremiahT18 made it!(author)2016-08-30

This is most certainly a bell pepper. The top image shows what they should look like, but you can also tell by the leaves. Reaper leaves become enormous in comparison once they mature. The stem is also a bit thinner on a reaper. Of course the biggest and best tell is the shape. The scorpion and reaper peppers are very odd shaped... roundish with a point at the bottom.

DanielM658 made it!(author)2016-08-30

Yea i guess i didnt label good
I finallt got my reapers

duner1 made it!(author)2016-08-25

I agree it doesn't look lanything like a reaper, it look more like an egg plant to be honest

Boba+Jett made it!(author)2016-08-15

Hello and thank you for your comment!!! To my eye no, reapers start green and move to red. Also they are very oddly shaped like the photo on the top of the instructable, I believe it is a Capsicum annuum. A bell pepper/chilli pepper, quite unusual. Definitely not a reaper though, sorry.


DanielM658 made it!(author)2016-08-15

Thank you
I was sure they were my reaper seeds but I thought they looked wrong
Guess I need to label better

Crankyshotgun made it!(author)2016-08-25

I'm leaving in a tropical climate country where high temperatures and high humidity throughout the year. Daytime temperatures rise above 30°C (86°F) year-round and night-time temperatures rarely drop below 24°C (75°F).

Just bought some Carolina Reaper seeds all the way from New York and was wondering if any of you guys can be so kind to guide me in getting started?

sromes1 made it!(author)2016-08-19

most of my peppers don't develop the stinger end at the bottom of the pepper. I have noticed that the only ones to do so are ones where the pollen tube remains attached to the imature fruit after the rest of te flower falls...anyone notice the same thing? the pollen develops into the stinger. img2374 is a poor pic of the pollen tube a few weeks after setting fruit the end is blunt but gradually tapers to the stinger....thx steve

ChrisW400 made it!(author)2016-08-18

Hello everyone, can anyone help me. I planted my Reapers outside in the ground and would like to bring in for the winter. Can you dig them up and place in a pot or bucket with good drainage? Or will it kill the plant? Thanks for your time and help

festerbut made it!(author)2016-08-16

I have nice plants growing an with a lot of flowers trouble is after the flower opens it and the stem falls off an i have no fruit growing my plants seem healthy other than that any help

RandyR50 made it!(author)2016-08-12

my reapers are turning black/brown vs. red. what's wrong??