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Bonnie's Garden--Peppers--From Sweet to Scorching

Unless you really know peppers, it can be overwhelming when shopping for the plants.  If you’re looking for heat, well, how hot IS a particular variety, exactly?

Chili Peppers are rated on what is called the Scoville Heat scale (Scoville Heat Units)  This measures the amount of capsaicin in the pepper—capsaicin is what makes a pepper hot.  The higher the number, the hotter the pepper.   The seeds and white membrane inside the pepper contain the most heat.  If you remove those, you can tone it down a little.

If you’re shopping for peppers, here is a guide to some of the peppers we most often carry. Scoville Heat Units (SHU) are listed after each variety.


Bell Orange—A very sweet bell peppers that ripens to pretty orange fruits on productive plants.

Better Belle—Peppers are ready a couple of weeks earlier than other bell peppers.  Green fruits ripen to deep orange.

California Wonder-The classic green bell pepper that ripens to red. 

Golden Wonder—Nearly identical to California Wonder, Golden Wonder ripens to a bright gold when ripe.

Keystone Resistant—Very similar to California Wonder but is resistant to Tobacco Mosaic Virus.

Purple Beauty—Thick-walled fruits on productive plant ripen to purple.

Red Bull—Disease resistant plants with thick-walled fruits that ripen to red.

Sweet Banana—Long, crisp and sweet fruits ripen from yellow to red. 


Big Chili—A mildly hot Anaheim-type chili peppers. SHU 500-2500

Cayenne—Spicy hot peppers on productive plants.  Often dried and ground as a spice.  30,000 to 50,000 SHU

Ghost—So hot it’s used as an elephant repellent in India!  850,000 to 1,000,000 SHU  (FYI, it’s currently the 9th hottest pepper in the world).

Goliath—A type of jalapeno with larger fruit.  2500-8000 SHU

Habanero—Native to South American, Habaneros have a citrusy flavor—if you can get past the heat.  100,000-350,000 SHU

Jalapeno—Probably the best-known hot pepper.  When smoked and dried, it is called Chipotle.  2500-8000 SHU

Pepperoncini—Used extensively in Italian cooking, pepperoncini are very mild—often pickled.  100-500 SHU

Poblano—Taller  than most peppers at 4 to 5 feet, it’s mildly spicy with a smoky note.  When roasted and dried, it is called Ancho.  1000-2000 SHU

Sweet Heat—Very mildly spicy and particularly sweet, it contains 65% more vitamin C than other peppers.  230-330 SHU

Tabasco—The pepper used by the McIlhenny family to make their famous hot sauce, it’s about as hot as a cayenne.  30,000-50,000 SHU

Thai Dragon—Short bushy plants are both decorative and productive.  50,000-100,000 SHU

Remember, all peppers like full sun.  They are related to tomatoes, so if you had a disease problem with tomatoes last year, keep peppers out of that area for the season, as well.

Peppers adapt well to growing in containers.  Just be sure to use potting soil and keep fed.  I use Tomato-tone.

I'm not much of a heat-seeker when it comes to peppers.  How hot can you go?
Posted: 5/15/2017 by Bonnie Pega | with 0 comment(s)
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