Growing the Habanero Plant

habanero pepper plant

Anyone who loves hot sauces or salsas may think of growing the habanero plant. If you can grow tomatoes, you can also grow habanero peppers because their requirements are similar.


The habanero chile pepper is one of the hottest chile peppers in the Capsicum family.

The unripe fruit is green, though the mature peppers may be red, orange, pink, white or brown. A mature habanero is around 3 to 6 cm long.

Thought to have originated in Cuba, the habaneros are indispensable components in the Yucatán peninsular cuisine. Each year at least 1,500 tons of peppers are harvested there.

Other regions that they are known to grow in include Costa Rica and Belize, as well as US states like California, Texas and Idaho. No matter their origins, you can grow these peppers in your own location.



Optimum Growing Conditions

Though habaneros prefer hot weather, too much sun exposure can cause damage to these nightshade family members.

When growing habanero peppers, it is important to understand that they thrive well under a good morning sun with a soil having ideal pH of 5 or 6.

Water the habanero plants only when dry because too much watering can cause the peppers to taste bitter or even die out.

Habanero bushes may be sown directly in the ground, or can be grown in containers and live for several years in pots.

The habanero, a perennial plant, can produce flowers and fruits for several years if cared for properly. In temperate climates, it is considered an annual plant, which grows dormant each winter and is replaced the following spring.

In tropical as well as sub-tropical regions, this plant produces fruit year round as long as the growing conditions are favorable.

Scoville Rating

The habanero chile pepper is around 100 times hotter than the jalapeno.

The red savina habanero pepper, a cultivar of habanero pepper and once certified as the “World’s hottest spice,” is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Habaneros usually rate between 100,000 to 350,000 Scoville units. When growing the habanero plant, attempts have been made by many to breed habanero peppers selectively and produce heavier, hotter and larger chillies.


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  • Josie

    This was really helpful. I grew some great peppers.

    • tyler

      Hi am new at planting haberos but I don’t got no flowers or anything and its been a month since I planted it

      • Hi Tyler,

        Sometimes it takes a couple of months to get the flowers. Also, if it’s extremely hot (90 F or more) or too cold flowers won’t grow. Just continue to care for your plant and trim back any dead leaves so that the plant’s energy goes into making peppers.

        Hope this helps!

  • laylaa

    I love these peppers!

  • Fredrick L. Mayes

    I have about 6 Habanero pepper Plants growing this year and the peppers are coming in fantastic. They are actually getting pretty big and cannot wait for them to fully mature so My Wife can make me some Homemade Habanero Salsa. I love these peppers!

  • Micheal

    Hey all! I got 4 plants growing and they are pretty big! About a foot tall and a foot or two wide. Tons of peppers on each one. Some are finally turning orange. Gonna make hot sause and salsa. Then dry some and make some spices. I like it hot!!

  • Michael

    It work’s Got 53 tree’s!!!

  • Sam

    My plant is about a foot tall and has only one small pepper, lots of leaves and flowers, can any one tell me why there a not more peppers growing?

    • Hi Sam, are you using any fertilizer? If so, I would check the NPK rating because too much nitrogen is known to produce mostly leaves without the fruit.

    • Louise

      My plant is about 18ins tall & covered in buds which then produce flowers that then just drop off. Does anyone know what I am doing wrong ?

      • Hi Louise, several factors can cause flower drop in pepper plants. Really hot or really cold temperatures (below 60 degrees Fahrenheit or 80 degrees Fahrenheit or more) can make buds drop. Excessive nitrogen in your fertilizer can also do this because the nitrogen can make the chile plant put all its energy into leafy growth rather than buds or chili pods. Lack of fertilization from bees is another possibility. With my plants, the first flower buds of the growing season usually fall off (don’t know why), but then future flowers stick around and produce lots of chillies.

        Hope this helps!

        • Ive had tons of buds but not a single pepper. The plant is about 12-13 inches and around 3 months old, looks healthy. It has been over 100° a few times. Pollination was my first thought, do I need a second plant ?

        • Hi,

          Yes, sounds like pollination is an issue. And no, you don’t need a second plant. What you might want to do is take a paintbrush, or even use using the tip of your finger, and brush the inside of each flower. You can also gently shake the plant each day to help speed things up.

        • Brandon


          I planted my Habanero plant about 6 weeks ago. I used a 5 gallon bucket with holes drilled in it and Miracle Grow Garden soil. The plant gets afternoon sun for about 6 hours. I usually water every night unless it rains. The temp here In Kentucky has been 80-90 degrees. The plant is the exact same size as when I bought it. It looks healthy but will not grow at all. It is about 6 inches tall. What could be wrong?????

        • Hi Brandon,

          I don’t think there’s anything wrong. In my experience, Chinense varieties like the Habanero often take more time to grow then other peppers. Keep taking care of your plant and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

  • Rodney

    Greetings all,
    When attempting to dry my habanaros, they eventually turn black and exude a great deal of moisture. Can they be dried ? If not, how to store.
    Thanks heaps,

    • Hi Rodney, yep, they can be dried. You have the option to string them up on a clothesline and put them in a cool, dry area like an attic, use a food dehydrator or put them on a metal rack and place them outside and in the sun on a dry day. I’ve even heard of people using their home ovens, but I haven’t personally tried that so I don’t know how well that works.

      As for storage, here’s a comment I wrote on the Jalapeno Pepper Basics: Growing Jalapenos 101 page, which works for habs too:

      As for preserving, there are numerous ways to this. One quick and easy solution is to freeze your jalapenos. After washing and drying them first, lay the peppers on a flat surface and stick them in your freezer until they are frozen. Double bag your frozen chillies in freezer bags and they will stay good for approximately 9 to 12 months.

      Good luck!

  • Oliver

    Hi Guys – I’ve got a very decent looking plant that is covered in peppers (dozens and dozens of them) which are orange already (still lots of green ones too). It’s the end of June and the pepers themselves are still very small. Is it a case of waiting for them get bigger? I ask because the plant had big orange peppers when I bought it last year so I’m wondering if I’ve done something that means the peppers will stay very small (if that’s possible).

    Many thanks for any tips.

    • Hi Oliver, thanks for your question. I suggest picking off all of your orange peppers and possibly some of your green ones too since it’s still early in the growing season. A chile plant only has so much energy to produce and grow fruit to full size, so possibly the large amount of peppers on the plant is keeping the chile size small. Congratulations on your plant producing so many peppers though… you’re definitely doing something right!

      Hope this helps.

  • Brent

    Buenos Dias… I am an American living in Ensenada, B.C., Mexico trying to grow habaneros. For years, I have had little flies buzzing around the plants and laying their small eggs underneath the leaves. Right now the plants are inside, in the kitchen garden window. They are about 2 inches tall and I am worried that they will end up like all of the past years. Ladden with the eggs and slowly but surely wither. I’ve only produced 3, yes three, peppers in the last ten years. How can I get rid of the flies? Please help me… Thank You

    • Hi Brent, I feel your pain… I’m dealing with little flying bugs myself! I recommend using Neem oil–a natural pesticide–to maintain a bug-free environment. A typical mixture is 1tbsp neem to a gallon of water. Pour the mixture in a sprayer and coat the tops and undersides of the leaves. I hope this helps and I wish you great harvest!

    • user

      Spray them wit chillli water just boil chillies in water then spray plant when cool kills the infection but doesnt bar your plant

  • Oliver

    Hi – many thanks for the tip. I will do as recommended ASAP. Your remark got me wondering, though, so I counted the peppers (how sad is that!). 86 actual peppers with probably half as many flowers in bloom too (approximately :-).


  • Mike

    Cooked with habaneros and can’t seem to get it off of my fingers. Ideas?

    • Hi Mike, try washing your hands in an oil-cutting dish detergent and then soak your hands in a bowl of fatty milk or yogurt. The dairy has an enzyme that can help break down the capsaicin. Leave your hands in the bowl for about 15 minutes, or until the burn stops, and then wash your hands again.

      Hope this helps!

  • Elaine


    I have a plant that growing in a pot. It has about 10-15 habaneros but they are all green. The size is not small (about right) but I live in the Northeast and with the not-too-hot-weather … I am not sure when my habaneros will turn orange. What should I do? Should I pick it now? Or wait until it turn color? Also is my pot too small? Do I need to switch to a bigger pot to have more habaneros?

    Thanks for the help!

    • Hi Elaine,

      Thanks for your questions. As long as the weather doesn’t dip below 50 F your habaneros should be fine. Don’t pick the chillies until they turn orange. As for your pot, what size are you using? Generally, mature habanero plants grow well in 5-gallon containers.

      Hope this helps!

  • Bear

    @ Mike, I had the same problem when I first grew Habanero’s. The best way is to wear vinyl or latex gloves when preparing the hotter varieties of pepper

  • James

    I gave these peppers a try in my garden this year with no luck at all. I planted four plants and two died within a week. The other two plants finally started blooming after about 4 weeks, but produced only one pepper per plant. I was told to pick those peppers and then the plants would bloom like crazy. Well, they did exactly that and I had dozens of tiny peppers on my plants. One week later and all of those little peppers were dried up and dead. 🙁 I’m guessing it’s a soil issue in my garden. Everything I plant grows great except pepper plants. My green bell peppers don’t do all to great either.

    • Hi James,

      I’m sorry to hear about your habanero plants! Yes, the soil can definitely be a factor. Peppers prefer a warm, well-drained soil with a pH between 6 to 6.8. You can buy a soil test kit, or contact your local cooperative extension office for help with this. Also, you said you planted four plants; were these plants ones you raised from seed? If so, they would need a hardening-off process before planting in the garden so as to not go into shock.

      Hope this helps.

  • Jerralynn

    Is it normal for the flowers to fall off before producing peppers? Currently have two plants, first time grower, and the bigger one has dropped a couple of the flowers that it had. Still has a lot of flowers and a lot more coming.


    • Hi Jerralynn,

      Yes, it’s very common for flower drop off, especially if your having lots of hot weather. This isn’t something to worry about and the future buds should start producing chillies.

      Good luck!

  • James

    Hey, Im growing Big Peppers as big as a Ok in your Hand, But They are Green and There Pointy, I Had the Plant for three years now and never had the prob, I grow 40 peppers per every 5 months, aprox, and Another Q. How Many gallons Do i need to water it, i water it every week?

    • Hey, Im growing Big Peppers as big as a Ok in your Hand, But They are Green and There Pointy, I Had the Plant for three years now and never had the prob, I grow 40 peppers per every 5 months, aprox, and Another Q. How Many gallons Do i need to water it, i water it every week?

      Hi James,

      Congrats on such a healthy pepper plant. It’s hard to say how many gallons of water you need. It totally depends on the size of container you are using and what the weather is like in your area. From what you wrote, it sounds like you’re hydrating your chillies properly. I have a lot of pepper plants in 5-gallon containers and I water them every 1 to 2 weeks, depending on the heat.

  • Leah

    Hi pepper lovers…

    I love Habaneros myself and I decided to plant seeds from one of the best tasting Habanero peppers I bought at the store. The seeds sprouted within a couple of weeks. I was so happy to see that 10 of the 12 seeds I plantes sprouted just fine and I kept them indoors.

    It has been 6 months since, and now I’m down to 2 little plants. I decided to place the pots outside 10 days ago because these are not growing. It seems like the plants love being outdoors, I see they have grown some.

    My question; how long does it usually take from the moment a seed sprouts for it to bear fruit? I know I have to wait to see the little white flowers forming but how long do I have to wait before I see the little white flowers?

    Look forward to your reply-
    Happy Salsa Creations to you,

    • Hi pepper lovers…

      I love Habaneros myself and I decided to plant seeds from one of the best tasting Habanero peppers I bought at the store. The seeds sprouted within a couple of weeks. I was so happy to see that 10 of the 12 seeds I plantes sprouted just fine and I kept them indoors.

      It has been 6 months since, and now I’m down to 2 little plants. I decided to place the pots outside 10 days ago because these are not growing. It seems like the plants love being outdoors, I see they have grown some.

      My question; how long does it usually take from the moment a seed sprouts for it to bear fruit? I know I have to wait to see the little white flowers forming but how long do I have to wait before I see the little white flowers?

      Look forward to your reply-
      Happy Salsa Creations to you,

      Hi Leah, habaneros typically take 75 days to produce mature fruit. Each pepper variety is different, but the Capsicum chinense variety, which includes some of the hottest peppers like Bhut Jolokia, is known for taking a longer time to produce.

  • Leah

    For those that want to dry peppers… The easiest way and it works (I’ve tried it many times) Wash the peppers thoroughly and dry them with a cloth or paper towel till there is no moisture. Set several layers of paper towels (around 4-5) in front of a window that gets plenty of sun and within a few weeks you will see the great results. Of course, you may also hang them on a string but I find the paper towel method much simpler.

  • Leah

    Follow up on drying peppers- Make sure to spread the peppers you want to dry over the 4-5 layers of paper towels. Very important; don’t over-lap the peppers. Otherwise, these will grow mold-

  • Sofia

    I planted habanero seeds in April and the plants grew throughout the summer. I live in Texas and the summer temp was often between 95-100 degrees. When they finally produced fruit in August they were 1-inch or smaller, green, smooth, very hard, round balls. They do not increase in size. I had another plant with more shade time and it also has produced small round fruit. I used seeds from habaneros purchased at my local grocery store. My jalapenos also started with short, squiggly, round fruit but, since the temp dropped to below 85 degrees the fruit is now normal shaped. What’s the problem with my habaneros? Are they not finished growing or is there something wrong with them?

    • Hi Sofia, it sounds like the temperature was too high for your habaneros. Most peppers have a hard time thriving in temps above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Definitely give them some shade when it gets that hot. Try hanging a shade cloth during the hottest hours (for example, noon to 5pm) so that your chillies get the 8 to 10 hours of sunlight they need, but don’t fry in the heat. Hope this helps!

  • Vaughan

    Hey guys, I make pepernochino with my fresh habaneros. You gotta try it! Chop up 10-12 garlics & simmer them in EVOO. Add finely chopped parsley stalks, habaneros and salt. While thats simmering cook up some spagetti with a teaspoon of salt for 5mins 30 seconds. Add the spag to the garlic/chilli and mix in well, then add some of the salty water you cooked the spag in. Throw in the parsely leaves and quickly stir. Eat then relax on your couch with a big smile. It’ll take you a few trys to get the salt level perfected but man its worth it.

  • Lacey

    When do I plant Habaneros? Id like to start all my fruits/vegs in starter kits in the house. I live in Iowa, so I wont be able to place in the ground until say … may? Thanks! I green Green Bell Peppers last year & was very excited I had dozens but not very large in size. Im looking to do grow everything for home made salsa this year?! 🙂 Any help would be grealy appreciated. I am a working mom with 3 boys ages of 4,3, & 5 months. I dont really have time to nurse plants a whole lot. Thanks! Lac

  • Jenn

    We started a plant from seeds that a friend gave us her tree is awesome. But ours is still small I wanted to know more or less when do they start producing the peppers? ours is in a container because we live in an apartment does that make a difference if there in a conatiner vs in the ground?

  • Tawab

    I have couple of Habanero plants growing in my yard. The problem I have is that some thing keeps eating the leaves, Im not sure if its snail or anything else. I have tried several sprays and products nothing seems to be solving the problem. Anyone has been going through this situation? If so what did you use to kill it?

    • Bruce

      I found grasshoppers eating my plants leaves. We like organic, so no chemicals are used. Just caught them and killed them.

  • diane

    I got carried away and planted over a 100 habanero plants in my green house ,when is a good time to transplant it is now close to the end of April. Also i have seeds when do you plant them ,I live in eastern Ontario

  • john j

    Am growing 2 pepper pots in 12′ by 8′ pots.From seeds taken from one red pepper and one orange one- both bought at a grocery store. How can I determine which is a Habanero, and which is a Scotch Bonnet”? In understand each type could be either color. Thank You!

  • john j

    I’m not an expert at this, just trying to grow couple of habaneros for the first time in several
    years. bought local plans in the past but this time started from seeds and trying to learn
    from websites like this. I just sprayed with the epsom sol. like Joe recommends but also
    added a few drops of off-brand hot sauce. Another source says THAT will help keep bugs away,
    but I don’t know yet…don’t see how it could hurt.

  • diane

    why are their black seeds in some habanero ? this seems to happen only to the red ones,
    if picked green will they ripen ?

  • I’m growing a habanero for the first time this year and its just starting to flower now! I’m really excited waiting to get my first taste! Its great to know the plant can live for several years, I thought it was just an annual. So hopefully I will have my little hab for a long time to come – unless I kill it out of frustration after the first taste!!

  • Katherine

    I am considering stringing my peppers to dry. Do you have an idea if stringing them to dry in the sun is ok?

    • Hi Katherine,

      You can definitely dry peppers in the sun as long as they stay dry. I haven’t used this technique myself, but my understanding is that it should take 3 to 4 weeks.

  • Jay T

    It is now November and I reside in California…my habaneros are just turning orange now. It is going to get into the 40’s this week, you think my peppers will be okay???? This is my first time growing them and I am elated!!! So beautiful. I pray the rest of the peppers turn orange soon, as not to die. Hope you can help, even thought I see no one has written since last year.

    • Hi Jay, personally, I would pick those peppers before that cold weather hits. I’ve lost beautiful plants — particularly habaneros — to those cold temps and it’s always heartbreaking. The good news is that if you pick those chiles and leave then on the counter for about a week, they will turn orange.

      If you don’t want to pick them, put those plants in garage or some other enclosed shelter, or place frost blankets on top at night.

      Hope this helps and good luck!

    • Scott Golden

      yes. Mine in Alabama produce even after our first freeze, which when that weather comes down here has wide intervals appearing again. Your Habs will be fine

  • steve

    this is my first attempt at growing habanero peppers the plant is starting to produce peppers but the leaves are curling up, the leaves do not feel dry like not enough water they have been fertilized with 8-4-4 fertilizer could this be from to much sun? or maybe to much water? it has been over 90 for over a week any help would be great thanks!!

    • Hi Steve,

      Wrinkly leaves could be too much sun, but it might also be that the plant needs calcium. Try applying a calcium source like CalMag or bonemeal and see how your plant does.

  • when is a habanero hotter, when it is green or orange when mature?

    • Hi Steve,

      In my experience, the orange ones are hotter but there are always exceptions.

    • Scott Golden

      right before it begins to show color. Once color is shown means it has ripened and ripening converts the capsaicin into sugars to make them sweeter.

  • Sean

    I live in Florida and my Habs produced two rounds of good peppers. This last one, however, all the peppers are about the size of a penny or smaller. What causes this?

  • Carlos Tobar

    This is going to be my first time growing habaneros. Wish me luck

  • Johnny Reb

    I have 16 plants that were started last April, these have the oddest shape peppers from what I have ever seen. Others are long and fat, almost egg-shaped. Has anybody else seen something similar?

  • jtxl

    what is safe to get rid of whiteflies on habenero plants with peppers? I know the insecticide soap is good for the larve but what will safely kill the adults? I see pepper spray for other plants so if I make a spray with ground habeneros to spray the plants, will this get rid of the whiteflies and not hurt the plant?

    • Mr. Omar

      I like using Neem oil for white flies as well as aphids. Its organic and can be used up to harvest.

  • MR

    I’m growing a habanero plant indoors, and the plant is growing very well with dozens of flowers on it, but it won’t fruit. Could you please give me advice on how to produce peppers from the flowers?

    • Crissy

      Often times while indoors you have no bees or other good insects to pollunate the flowers. Try gently tapping the flowers with your thumb from flower to flower to pollunate them.

      • GrammarPolice


  • Connie

    The weather is getting cold, my habaneros are not yet ready, what can I do so I don’t loose them, can I pick them and bring them inside to finish or what?

  • rusted ego

    I’m from the Philippines I’m planning to grow habaneros indoor. Can you give me some tips, this is my first time

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