There are over 50,000 varieties of chili peppers; so no wonder people have a difficult time choosing which ones they should grow. I’ve put together this list of my favorite chili peppers to grow and cook with. I’ve ordered them from least spicy to most spicy. Even if you are not much of a heat lover, do not be deterred by the hotter varieties; with the heat comes a lot of unique flavor that can be extremely useful in a wide range of cuisines.
All of the varieties of chili peppers on this list have very similar needs in your garden.
Find a very sunny, warm, spot to grow your chili peppers. They thrive in sunlight and can withstand the heat of summer.
Place each plant about 16 inches apart. Dig a hole twice the size of the pot your chili pepper comes in. Fill the hole with garden soil and some compost.
Chili peppers do well with any organic vegetable fertilizer. Organic tomato fertilizers actually work very well also, but do be sure to not over-fertilize or your pepper production will be hindered and instead you’ll end up with big beautiful leaves.
Like most vegetables, water often, but do not drench the soil around your chili peppers. Keep the soil moist and only water when the soil is nearly dry again.
As your plants grow, pinch off the earliest buds/ flowers to encourage more future growth.
Chili peppers will produce fruit anywhere between 70-150 days depending on the variety. Typically, hotter peppers take longer to mature.
1) Banana Peppers:
Easily recognizable, these chili peppers are small, bright yellow and waxy. They have extremely high yields so a plant or two will be more than enough. These chilies are phenomenal pickled, or as a tangy, mildly spicy garnish.
2) Anaheim Chili Pepper:
A mild, medium sized chili. These are typically harvested when they are green, but if they are allowed to mature longer, they can also be harvested when red. They can be used like a bell pepper (with just a slight kick), and are often used in dishes like chile rellenos.
3) Jalapeno Chili Pepper:
The most popular and famous chili pepper in the world, and for good reason. Jalapenos are extremely versatile. They can be pickled, candied, roasted, stuffed, minced. No matter what you do with them they are a welcome flavor and spice in almost any dish. Jalapenos are a particularly “fleshy” chili with thick, robust walls. They are easy to grow and have decent yields.
4) Fresno Chili Pepper:
My personal favorite on this whole list, fresno chilies are similar to jalapenos, although they can be spicier. Like jalapenos, they mature into attractive and vibrant red chilies. Fresno chilis have a rich, smoky flavor that the popular jalapeno just can not compete with. They also mature faster and are a must have in the garden.
5) Cayenne Pepper:
Most of us are familiar with cayenne chili peppers. When dried, cayenne chilies are a spice cabinet staple. They also are the base flavor of many popular hot sauces, including buffalo sauce. On the plant, cayenne chilies are long, narrow and dark red.
6) Habanero Chili Pepper:
Although the hottest on this list, habanero chili peppers are only the tip of the ice berg in the world of hot-hot chili peppers. Although they are pretty spicy, they are still easy to incorporate into your cooking without being unpleasant. In recent years, habanero flavored foods have skyrocketed in the U.S. From chips to jellies, this chili is proof that we all love a little sweet heat. Habanero chili peppers almost resemble small, orange bell peppers. They also are a plant that grows well year after year so you may consider planting it in a movable container so that it can survive the colder months.