Chili peppers belong to the Solanaceae family, they’re native to South America, where they have been cultivated since ancient times (back as far as the fifth century BC), and from where they reached us after the discovery of the New World (brought to Europe in 1493 by Christopher Columbus, returning from his second journey).
There are countless varieties, which are grouped into 5 main species: Capsicum annuum (which includes sweet peppers), C. frutescens (this group includes the tabasco pepper), C. chinense (the best-known variety is the famous Habanero), C. baccatum (amongst the cultivars of this group is the Bishop’s Crown) and C. pubescens (for example the Rocoto variety).
They’re perennials that do not like cold climates, and for this reason need to be protected during the colder parts of the year.
Chili peppers are a fairly hardy species, which prefers soils that are rich in organic matter and well drained; they need to be grown in full sunlight and require an adequate supply of water.
They grow as a bush, with an erect branched stem, reaching 1 metre in height. The bright green leaves are heart-shaped or lanceolate. The flowers are single and white, they have 5 or 7 petals and pale yellow stamen. The fruits are berries, of various colours and shapes: they can be green, yellow or red and long, round, oval or cylindrical/conical in shape.
The plants have a taproot with numerous secondary roots that grow in the upper layers of the soil.
In the kitchen they are used to give a hot taste to various dishes.
|Recommended Seeding||In Pots|
|Number of seeds||1|
|Sowing Depth||0.30 cm|
|Distance between rows||75 cm / 85 cm|
|Distance between rows||35 cm / 45 cm|
|Estimated number of plants/sqm||6.00|
|Average growing time||165 gg / 195 gg|
|Average sprouting time||8 gg / 25 gg|
|Ideal Sprouting Temperature (C°)||15 °c - 28 °c|
|Min. Temperature (C°)||10 °c|
|Soil pH||5.50 / 7.00|
|Can be grown in pots||yes|
The “acuminatum” (Capsicum annuum var. acuminatum) chili pepper is one of the most commonly grown varieties; it has a long thin red fruit with a slightly curved tip.
The “fasciculatum” chili pepper (Capsicum annuum var. fasciculatum) is a well known variety that is often used in cooking. It has an elongated, straight, red, cone-shaped berry and is moderately hot.
The “cerasiferum” chili pepper (Capsicum annuum var. cerasiferum) is a variety that is highly appreciated for its globe-shaped berries, which are bright red when ripe.
The “bicolour” chili pepper (Capsicum annuum var. bicolor) is an unusual variety: its short, cone-shaped berries can be of different colours, usually red and purple. It is grown both as an ornamental plant and to be used in the kitchen
The “abbreviatum” chili pepper (Capsicum annuum var. abbreviatum) is a variety that has small red or yellow berries: normally the fruits do not grow any larger than 4 – 5 cm. It is used in cooking to add flavour to many dishes.
The Jalapeño chili pepper (Capsicum annuum var. Jalapeño) is a cultivar widely used in Central America. It has a very fleshy greed berry that is averagely hot.
Red Habanero (Capsicum chinense var. Habanero) is a variety of hot chili pepper, native to Mexico. The plant grows as a bush and reaches a height of around 70 cm. It produces lantern-shaped fruits that are roughly 3 cm – 4 cm long and 2 cm – 3 cm wide, they are bright red when ripe.
This variety is appreciated for both the colour of its fruits and for their extremely hot taste: even though it’s not as strong as the famous “Habanero Red Savina”, this chili pepper is not recommended for those who aren’t used to anything very hot.
We recommend that you take care (and wear latex gloves) when handling the berries.
They can be eaten raw, dried, cooked or used to add a hot touch to numerous complex dishes.