Successfully planting ghost pepper seeds requires a sufficiently hot climate and careful attention to watering. These peppers thrive in extremely warm temperatures but typically need indoor germination prior to planting outdoors. Ghost pepper seeds can be started indoors about three months before the last spring frost.
Begin by soaking ghost pepper seeds overnight in water. Alternatively, you can use a bleach soaking solution with a 3:2 ratio of bleach to water, allowing the seeds to soak for about 20 minutes. If using bleach, first make certain that it does not contain sodium hydroxide or added fragrance.
Using a seed flat with a well-draining peat soil, slightly dampen the soil using a spray bottle filled with distilled water. Place ghost pepper seeds about 0.25 inches (6.35 mm) deep with around 2 inches (5 cm) of space between seeds. Select a sunny location, such as a window that faces south, where the ghost pepper seeds can receive at least six hours of direct sun in order to germinate. Keep the potting soil moist. If direct sun is not available indoors, cover the seed tray with a plastic bag and place it in a warm spot, such as on a refrigerator or heating pad.
When outdoor temperatures reach 80 degrees F (26.6 degrees C) and the ghost peppers have produced a double set of leaves, they can be transplanted outdoors. It is ideal to gradually acclimate the new ghost pepper plants to the outdoors by exposing them by increments over the space of two weeks, beginning with an hour and building to a full day. Next, the ghost pepper plants can be placed in the garden at a depth of up to 4 inches (10 cm), spaced at least 12 inches (30.48 cm) apart. Provide water once a week, or more frequently in very dry weather. Mulching the plants will help retain water, as well as discouraging weed growth.
Ghost peppers can take about five months to mature from germination. They are ready to be harvested when their skin has become orange or reddish and the peppers are firm to the touch. It is essential to wear gloves to harvest ghost peppers, due to the danger of irritation to the eyes and skin.
The ghost pepper, also known as bhut jolokia as well as by other names, is an interspecies hybrid of two peppers native to regions of India and Bangladesh. Typically, this pepper is a vivid orange color when ripe and grows to be about 4 inches (10 cm) in length. Bhut jolokia was designated the hottest pepper worldwide in 2007 by Guinness World Records. At that time, ghost peppers were said to be more than 400 times as intense as Tabasco® sauce.