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Hot Pepper Varieties for Cool, Maritime Climates.

Hi there, I'm new to the forums, and I'm not quite sure if I'm posting this in the right place. If not, please let me know, and I'll move it to the appropriate forum.

I'm relatively new to hot pepper cultivation, and I've never grown any truly hot peppers, such as certain strains of chinense. The hottest pepper I've grown with any level of success was C. pubescens. I had three plants for three years, but while moving between a few different places, they kicked the can. Other than that, I've only grown certain cayenne varieties and Hungarian wax peppers, which do really well in our area, but aren't really all that hot. My plan now is to grow the hottest possible varieties for my outdoor growing conditions... and there in lies the challenge.

The area I live in is the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia. The climate for my region varies from cool, moist maritime to sub-mediterranean. According to Köppen climate classification this would be a temperate oceanic (cfb) to warm-summer Mediterranean (csb) climate. The closest equivalent would be Seattle, Washington, although our summers are slightly cooler, on average, by about two degrees. Another equivalent region would be the Crimean Peninsula, on the Black Sea. Many of the most suitable tomato and melon varieties for our region come from the Crimean Peninsula, such as the Black Krim tomato.

Based on what I've been told by hot pepper growers, and on my own research and experience, the rocotos seem to be the best bet, overall, especially if overwintered indoors. But I'm also curious if their are any really hot, perhaps even super-hot varieties of other kinds of peppers that might be adapted to my region's climate. As for chinense, the research I've done seems to indicate that Beni Highlands would do well (although, it doesn't sound that hot), and Hot Paper Lanterns. There also seems to numerous annuums, but are there any annuums that thrive in maritime climates and produce smoking hot fruits? I've also read about Purira, which I believe is a frutescens, that apparently grows well in cool maritime conditions, and overwinters well. I've also read that it produces really hot fruits.

I'm also thinking that varieties that can be overwintered indoors would be the best to go with, in order to get a head start on flower and fruit production. Most Capsicums would have to be brought indoors in our area, because we are in USDA plant hardiness zone 8b to 9a. I have heard of a few people overwintering rocotos with heavy mulching, or in unheated greenhouses in our area, with a moderate amount of success. Again, another point scored for the rocotos.

So, are there any growers in cool, maritime regions (UK, southern NZ, Seattle, southern Chile, Tasmania, Vancouver Island, etc) that might have any ideas or recommendations that they'd like to share? If you know of an ultra-hot chinense type pepper that thrives in cool, maritime conditions, then please, let us in on the variety! Failing that, what would the closest equivalents be? Please bare in mind that I'm not looking to build expensive systems to create artificial environments to grow my plants in. Not that there's anything wrong with that... I just prefer the challenge of growing things outside whenever I can, so I tend to focus more selecting the most suitable varieties. And OP's are preferred, I would like to gather seeds and eventually start trading.

Thanks ahead of time for any ideas or pointers. Even if we only come up with small hand full of varieties, as so long as they're melt-your-face-off-hot, I'll be happy.

 
 

SmokenFire

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If you've grown pubes you should be able to get chinense.  Start them early (like now) and then plant out after any danger of frost.  I'm in 5a and start my chinense supers like Trin Scorp and bhuts the last week of Jan/early Feb.  Usually have pods late July/early Aug.  They yield through late Sept/early Nov for me in the ground (transplanted in mid May).  The overwinters I have in 10 gallon pots will continue yielding through Christmas if I'm lucky.
 
Things like cold frames and small DIY hoop houses can really boost your early transplanting and late yields too.  In any case best of luck and welcome to THP!  :) 
 
Looks like an interesting thread.

In my experience, bhuts don't seem to set fruit well here -- i strongly suspect that it's because the minimum night temperatures drop below about 65°F. almost every night. Late in summer, we had 3 consecutive nights of warm (minimum 70°F.) temperatures, and there was heavy fruit-set.
Heat-sink and mylar in a coldframe might help. I think that a difference of a very few degrees might improve things nicely.

I don't know about other superhot strains.
 
I've read about those two, and I've been wondering about them. I've read that in the UK the Dorset Naga is usually grown in greenhouses... but then again, unlike the Sunshine Coast in BC, most parts of the UK don't really get warm or sunny (or so my family back in England tells me). Perhaps only the micro-climates around London, and parts of Cornwall do. Perhaps our slightly dryer and warmer summers here would make our region better suited for growing Dorset outside? The Bhut Orange Copenhagen looks promising for the same reason.

After reading other threads by growers from the PNW, and similar areas, I noticed that some of the varieties that sounded particularly promising included Bahamian goat, and MoA scotch bonnet. Perhaps these should be added to the list?

Other rarer varieties that I've been wondering about are dalle khursani, which is apparently grown in the hills around Kathmandu, and the shabu shabu naga from China. The shabu shabu looks really interesting, because it's naturalized in areas of western China, just south of Yunnan. Many plants from certain parts of Yunnan are really well suited to growing in our area, in fact, some are weeds here. Unfortunately, even if there was a variety of naga in Yunnan, if it were grown in the valley bottoms of that region, it would still be more naturally suited to the hot, humid conditions that most nagas and bhuts are already suited to. None the less, being semi-wild, it might have a diverse enough gene pool to provide some interesting possibilities for future selections. Likewise, the peoples living the mountainous areas just west of Yunnan, in northern most Burma/Myanmar might be growing their own varieties of nagas. Like Yunnan, many of the native plants from this region grow extremely well here, most likely for the same reason... that is, the mountainous regions that straddle the Myanmar/ China border have an oceanic type climate; that is, it's relatively cool, humid and rainy, with mild seasonal variations in temperatures. This is all just speculation, however. There seems to be very little information about the shabu shabu naga. It might be work trying outdoors here, just to see what happens.

Two others I was curious about were the Star of Turkey, and the Safi scotch bonnet from Morocco. The Star of Turkey looks promising because Turkey's Black Sea coast has a similar climate to ours. The Safi looks like a possibility because parts of the Atlas mountains in Morocco have quite cool climates.

Perhaps I should just give them all a go, and see what happens?

 
 
Mikeg, that's a good point. I think heat sinks, and cold frames and such might be necessary no matter what. If we could figure out the best varieties for outdoor cultivation in our climate zone, then it would make having to build additional structures even more worth the effort. I'm currently thinking about building a retractable hoop house heated by an adjacent compost bin.
 
Hybrid Mode 01 said:
     I think the Dorset naga was bred to produce in the UK. It seems to put up with cool weather and produce earlier than most superhots. 
 
Not knocking you at all, but it was found and taken from a Bangladeshi market in Dorset and re-named "Dorset Naga" It hasn`t been bred at all.  

If your climate is similar to that of Cornwall, you can grow whatever you like. You`d be better off using a hoop house or greenhouse to extend the season, but my friends in Cornwall do well with all types. Just start them in January or the very beginning of February.
 
Nigel said:
 
Not knocking you at all, but it was found and taken from a Bangladeshi market in Dorset and re-named "Dorset Naga" It hasn`t been bred at all.  

 
 
 
 
     It wasn't quite that simple. I suppose "bred" was a bad word choice, but they did grow the seeds out for several generations after picking up the pods from the market. Over the years they selected for plant vigor, plant size, pod size/shape etc. They also chose plants that produced well in their climate. Whether or not it was an overt goal at the beginning, over the years the Dorset naga was developed to cooperate with a less tropical growing season.

From http://dorsetnaga.com :
In 2003, we expanded the population and grew seventy plants from the seed of the 2002 crop. The ‘Naga’ was advertised in our catalogue, so that we were selling and selecting simultaneously. Once again, the crop produced a variable population. Five plants (at least we think it was five plants) were selected as displaying the characteristics we wanted for our Naga: large plant size, early maturity, and large, wedge-shaped fruit with a finely wrinkled skin. All the fruit on these plants were picked, and the seed was extracted, air dried and bulked into one lot for planting the following year.
 
 
 

hogleg said:
 I would add Bhut Orange Copenhagen to that list.
 
 
 
 
 
     Interesting. I never put 2 and 2 together that the BOC might have been selected for a more northerly climate, too.  I haven't read about the origins of that one. If it tolerates cooler climates as well as the Dorset naga, I definitely recommend the BOC instead. The flavor of the Dorset naga is pretty ho hum but the BOC is out of this world!
 
 
Interesting. I never put 2 and 2 together that the BOC might have been selected for a more northerly climate, too.  I haven't read about the origins of that one. If it tolerates cooler climates as well as the Dorset naga, I definitely recommend the BOC instead. The flavor of the Dorset naga is pretty ho hum but the BOC is out of this world!
I've also read about the Cornish Naga, and the Infinity Chilli... how would those rank in comparison to BOC?
 
Has anyone had experience with Hot Paper Lantern? From what I've read, it seems on-par, heat wise, with scotch bonnets... but what is the over all flavor like? In terms of earliness and adaptability to northern areas, it seems like one of the better varieties to go with.
 
LordTriffid78 said:
Has anyone had experience with Hot Paper Lantern? From what I've read, it seems on-par, heat wise, with scotch bonnets... but what is the over all flavor like? In terms of earliness and adaptability to northern areas, it seems like one of the better varieties to go with.
 
Yes, it`s a nice-ish variety, but not on par with Scotch Bonnets for flavour. Very productive, though. I don`t think it`s any earlier than any of the bonnets I`ve grown. Most chinense need a longer season. I suspect you are over-thinking this. I know plenty of people in Minnesota, northern Wisconsin etc that grow all these things, just pick what you like and try it. Make sure you start seeds as early as possible and grow indoors until May 1st or whenever you can plant out. 
 
 
I know plenty of people in Minnesota, northern Wisconsin etc that grow all these things, just pick what you like and try it.
I suspect even Minnesota and Wisconsin have better growing season climates for Capsicums in general then most of coastal BC. It's sort of difficult to describe the climate here to people from warmer climates... it's closer to western Scotland, with slightly cooler winters. It's chilly and misty most of the time... as in, three quarters of the year. In the Strait of Georgia, we're at an advantage from the rest of the west coast of Canada, because we're in a rain shadow, so we can get a bit of warmth and sun in the summer... however, it still gets cold at night (below 64F) in the summer time down by the water, even on the Strait of Georgia. Most of coastal BC, on the hand, is cool temperate rain forest... in most parts the summers simply don't get warm. Period. They just experience continuous summer fog, drizzle and overcast through the summer, with temperatures barely exceeding 77F. Then again, parts of BC's interior are arid and hot, and there are deserts up there... as well, there is one place near the coastal mainland that gets warm enough to grow sweet corn commercially (Agassiz and Chilliwack)... these places would probably be closer to having the kinds of growing seasons that most pepper growers are use to growing their plants in. Perhaps I should just move there.

Part of the fun of trying these marginal plants in our region is the challenge and the research and experimentation that goes into it. This is how we figured out which palm tree and banana species are adapted to our local conditions, however marginal, and now we're the only place in Canada where palm and banana trees can be permanently grown outdoors. It can be tricky figuring out which species or varieties work best, here, but in the long run, once you find the right varieties, everything else is relatively easy. The Chinese wind mill palm, for instance, actually self seeds in parts of SW British Columbia, it's so well adapted to our climate. This is unheard of in Canada. Yet, twenty five years ago, everyone would have told you that palm trees don't grow here, because we're in Canada. People thought we were crazy when they saw us planting palm trees in English Bay, in Vancouver.

So I think of ultra-hot peppers in the same way as we thought about the first frost hardy sub-tropical plant trials in our region... first, do lots of research (usually done during the dreary, wet and miserable winters, when there's nothing better to do), then test the varieties out to see which will work best here once the weather improves (that is, if the weather improves).
 
LordTriffid78 said:
Has anyone had experience with Hot Paper Lantern? From what I've read, it seems on-par, heat wise, with scotch bonnets... but what is the over all flavor like? In terms of earliness and adaptability to northern areas, it seems like one of the better varieties to go with.
 
 
 
     imo, paper lanterns are habaneros for folks who don't like the flavor of chinenses. The heat is OK, they're kind of fruity, but they lack much of that sharpness that makes chinenses unique and delicious. They are very prolific and a little earlier than other habs, though.
     I grew them one year and liked them, but I like Caribbean reds much, much more as a similar variety. More prolific, much better flavor, hotter, sweeter and they start producing at about the same time as paper lanterns.
     I agree with Nigel. If you're really concerned about how short your growing season is, you should be concentrating on just getting some seeds in the dirt, asap.
 
 
edit: I just read your latest post. I see where you're coming from now. You're not concerned so much with a short season as you are about cool temps. In that case, I'd just recommend experimenting with whatever varieties sound good to find out which ones do well for you. Also try the varieties we recommended earlier and maybe try a hoophouse, as recommended.
 
Thai peppers (some are really hot but not superhot) and Naga Morich / Dorset Naga do pretty well in cool weather in my experience.
Start early and try to save the seeds from pods harvested from the earlier / more productive plants for the next season. Year after year you will get varieties more and more adapted to your climate. From a similar selection the Dorset Naga was 'born' as a distinct variety from the generic Naga.
Seeds/plants acquired from thp friends or nurseries in your zone (or similar cool climates) may obviously work as well.

Good luck

Datil
 
Hybrid Mode 01 said:
 
 
 
     imo, paper lanterns are habaneros for folks who don't like the flavor of chinenses. The heat is OK, they're kind of fruity, but they lack much of that sharpness that makes chinenses unique and delicious. They are very prolific and a little earlier than other habs, though.
     I grew them one year and liked them, but I like Caribbean reds much, much more as a similar variety. More prolific, much better flavor, hotter, sweeter and they start producing at about the same time as paper lanterns.
     I agree with Nigel. If you're really concerned about how short your growing season is, you should be concentrating on just getting some seeds in the dirt, asap.
 
 
edit: I just read your latest post. I see where you're coming from now. You're not concerned so much with a short season as you are about cool temps. In that case, I'd just recommend experimenting with whatever varieties sound good to find out which ones do well for you. Also try the varieties we recommended earlier and maybe try a hoophouse, as recommended.
All good points. A hoophouse, even a small one and/or retractable one, might be the way to go, at least for temporary protection durring our cool, misty weather.

Also, a similar, but older thread that I just found entitled "chile plants for colder areas", they mentioned the Caribbean red hab a few times, with good reviews, as well as a number of non-chinense's that I already know do quite well in our area. I believe the OP was from Denmark, so I looked up the climate averages for that area, and it's quite similar to ours. I'd say any chillis they can grow outdoors there will grow just fine here.

Luckily, I think I may have helped a friend of mine plant a tray of red can habs, which are apparently germinating as we speak. I'll have to head over there and nab some seedlings for my own collection, soon.
,
 
BearDown said:
Manzano peppers do well in cool climates as well.
 
 
 
     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RY9ucdI22ZE
 
 
     Ding maf'kin ding. PepperLover's website does a great job outlinig the attributes of each of the pubes she offers. Find out which varieties produce really hot pods and are also adaptive to a long, cool growing season. She ships fast and free.
 
 
edit: But, yeah, still see if you can gank some of those Caribbean reds from your buddy. Those won't let you down.
     Just thought of this... Another route altogether might be to do some poking around for new crosses. Stuff that's f1 and f2 will have hybrid vigor and might put up with a crappy growing season better than other stable varieties. I dunno. Experiment. FOR SCIENCE!!!
 
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