The Ghost Pepper: Taste All the Colors of the Rainbow

If you love the ghost pepper (Bhut Jolokia), this will definitely interest you.

Let’s talk colors!

You might be surprised to find that the red ghost pepper is just one version of the Bhut Jolokia. This super hot chile comes in so many different shades.

I mean you can always grow the traditional red, but why not add more variety?

You have the option to grow ghost peppers in peach, purple and even white. And that’s just the start.

You’ll find each variety has other differences, such as heat level and taste, that may sway you towards one over another.​

By the way… if you need help growing ghost peppers or any other kinds of chillies, be sure to check out The Pepper Seed Starting Guide. This ebook steps you through all of the processes of starting seeds inside and growing them into strong plants that are ready for the outdoors.

Red Bhut Jolokia

The red ghost pepper is definitely the most widely-known ghost. Other names for this variety include Naga Jolokia and Bih Jolokia.

(By the way, you can see how the Carolina Reaper vs Ghost Pepper compare and check out a Ghost Pepper Scoville Scale chart on the hottest peppers in the world page.)

Topping the Scoville scale at 1,041,427 SHUs, this chile typically grows between 2.5 to 3.5 inches long.

The red ghost pepper grows long pendant-shaped pods with a bumpy texture.​ They start off green before officially turning red.

The flavor is somewhat smokey with a slightly fruity aftertaste. This pepper is one of the hottest bhuts.

red ghost pepper, red bhut jolokia
Photo credit: PepperParadise (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Yellow Bhut Jolokia

The yellow ghost pepper is an organic relative of the red variety.

In fact, here’s an interesting tidbit… the yellow variation was discovered as a natural variant in the US. It’s not a hybrid!

As far as taste, it’s similar to the red. And pods ripen from green to yellow.

Some say the yellow ghost pepper is not as hot as the red. Despite this, you’ll find it’s hotter than other spicy chillies like the fatalii.

yellow ghost pepper, yellow bhut jolokia
Photo credit: PepperParadise (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Peach Bhut Jolokia

The peach bhut jolokia is another natural mutation of the red ghost pepper.

This plant grows longer pendant pods than other bhuts. The average length is usually around 4 inches, and the largest gets to be about 6 inches.

Pods start off green and then end up a beautiful pinkish, peach color. If you leave them on the vine, they have the potential to turn orange.

And while peach ghost peppers are just as hot as the red ghost, you’ll discover they tend to have a balanced, fruity aftertaste.

peach ghost pepper, peach bhut jolokia
Photo credit: PepperParadise (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Purple Bhut Jolokia

The purple ghost pepper grows smaller pods than other bhut jolokia varieties.

Some chillies may start off as a deep purple and eventually turn red if left on the vine. Others may start off green and then turn purple before going red.

Here’s a couple of things to note about the purple color:

  • The pods have to be exposed to direct sun to turn purple.
  • Some pods may never be purple. They’ll start off green and turn red like a traditional, red ghost pepper.

Although these peppers carry the same flavor profile associated with bhuts, they are not as hot. The purple ghost is said to be comparable to the heat of an orange habanero.

ghost pepper purple, purple bhut jolokia
Photo credit: PepperParadise (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Chocolate Bhut Jolokia

The chocolate (brown) ghost pepper is another organic offspring of the red ghost pepper.

This variety has a notoriously long germination time (in some instances 6 weeks), but it’s worth it due to it’s delicious, smoky flavor. They are also very aromatic!

You’ll find the chocolate has the same heat as red ghost, but it has a distinctively sweet aftertaste.

chocolate ghost pepper, chocolate bhut jolokia
Photo credit: PepperParadise (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Orange Bhut Jolokia

Of all the ghost peppers out there, the orange ghost pepper is the most prolific.

This particular variety is great for container growing because the plant tends to grow smaller.

Another distinctive feature is that these bhuts produce smoother pods. In fact, they tend to have the appearance of long habaneros.

The orange ghost pepper is a very popular variety for making hot sauce.

orange ghost pepper, orange bhut jolokia
Photo credit: Richard Elzey [https://www.flickr.com/photos/elzey/22232840445], Flickr Creative Commons

White Bhut Jolokia

​This intriguing white variety is another prolific producer.

The white ghost pepper ripens to an ​off-white color, and the pods are smooth without the usual bumps on the skin.

These plants ​have the potential to grow over 3 feet tall.

Despite its hints of citrus, it contains the same heat and flavor profile you’ve come to expect with bhuts.

This is another highly-sought after variety for making white hot sauce.

And depending on where you get your seeds, some pods go from creamy white to red, while others will stay white.

white ghost pepper
Photo credit: Aedan Denny

​Growing the Ghost Pepper

When you’re ready to start growing the bhut variety of your choice, I’d recommend that you have supplies ready (e.g., propagator, heat mat, indoor plant lights).

(We have a specific page on growing ghost pepper plants that has more information.​)

And don’t forget patience!

Ghost peppers have some of the longest germination times. When you get them to grow, you’ll find these plants are strong and prolific.

If you need help finding seeds for these colorful ghost peppers, be sure to check out Etsy. This online marketplace is one of my favorite resources for hard-to-find seeds.

When To Pick Ghost Peppers

A common question when growing ghost chillies is when to harvest them. You can wait for them to turn the color they are supposed to be when mature and then pick them.

You can use time as another factor in when to pick. Ghost peppers generally take anywhere from 4 to 6 months to fully mature.

Another way to decide is by looking at the size of the pods. In general, chillies measure 2.5 to 3.5 inches long and 1 to 2 inches wide at maturity.

Red Ghost Peppers
Mature Ghost Peppers

A Word of Caution

As with all popular hot peppers, be sure to purchase your seeds from a reputable seller. People trying to make a quick buck like to peddle the more “exotic” chillies and basically lie about the seed varieties they’re selling.

Who has time to grow out seeds only to find out they didn’t get what they paid for?

Good luck and happy growing!​


​​More Posts On The World’s Hottest Peppers:


The Ghost Pepper: Taste All the Colors of the Rainbow

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