Hi, my name is David Rizzo and I’m one of expert Outdoor Horticulture staff members at Roger’s Gardens. My specialty is on growing edible gardens. Planting my garden each spring for the following summer has always been a passion of mine. Currently, I’m maintaining a community garden in Huntington Beach where I grow and experiment with all the veggies I recommend at Roger’s Gardens.

I love growing tomatoes, herbs and vegetables but one of my favorites is HOT, HOT peppers! Since I love to cook, adding a couple of peppers always seems to make my meals have a nice “kick” I enjoy. Since so many people wonder what it takes to grow great peppers, I decided to let you in on my secrets.


Growing peppers is pretty easy and a great companion to tomatoes, eggplant and beans. When choosing an area to grow your peppers pick an area of the garden that receives at least six to eight hours of full sun. Then when preparing the soil for hot peppers I like using Bu’s Blend Malibu Compost and earthworm castings to amend the soil. These two products are my favorites because I’ve found they are rich in nutrients and the closest thing to homemade compost. When setting them among your vegetables you want to space your peppers about 18 – 24 inches apart to give them enough space to spread out. Peppers seem to be mostly insect free. If you encounter any problems with peppers I suggest using an organic insecticide.

I like to fertilize with only organic products, such as Dr. Earth Vegetable Food. I use this because I feel the fishmeal in it makes a big difference in my garden. I also use a compost tea, like Bu’s Brew, every two to three weeks. It gives peppers a big boost of nutrients. As long as you have heat from the sun and good nutrition, peppers will grow.



Some of my favorite peppers to grow are ghost peppers for their heat, habaneros for even more and more heat, peppers for stuffing, and jalapenos and Serrano’s for salsas and sauces. Newer varieties like Shishito’s are now served as a side dish in many restaurants. Pan-fried with a vinegar make a fun dish for parties. Keep in mind, one in ten can be very HOT and SPICY, but usually they are fairly mild.


The “world’s third hottest pepper” for the moment is the ghost pepper or Bhut Jolokia. This pepper is cultivated in rural areas of India with a Scoville rating of 1,041,427 units, it’s not exactly tame but with fire- eaters, this is not hot enough. For comparison a jalapeño is only 3,000-8,000 Scoville units.

Each spring when we’re setting out our new pepper starts there is a new “world’s hottest pepper” to grow. Guests to Roger’s Gardens come in seeking the new “one” to have bragging rights among their friends. This year’s “hottest pepper” was the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion and yes, we sold many of these little dynamite plants. At 1,463,700 Scoville heat units, it’s quite a commitment to fire…

But now, we’re hearing about the Carolina Reaper as the new “world’s hottest pepper” with a Scoville rating of 1,569,300 units.  Ed Currie, who crossed a sweet Habanero with a Naga viper developed this pepper. Yikes!


I found all of these statistics on the Guiness Book of World Records website so if you know of any hotter peppers, let me (and them) know.

Growing your own vegetable garden is not only rewarding and easy but allows you to enjoy your culinary creations. Remember plants WANT to grow and provide you with delicious food so don’t be afraid to start your own pepper garden.