For the lover of spicy food, there is no better pepper to grow than the habanero. Its spicy bite is not for everyone, but for those that enjoy that kick it’s certainly hard to beat. Today, we’ll look at growing habanero peppers indoors and all the steps you’ll need to take to be successful doing so. You can also do a hybrid, and bring these indoors during the winter for year round growing. You’ll love the spice these peppers can add to your meals year round.
In most cases, habaneros are either grown from seeds, or seedlings purchase from a local hardware store or nursery. Seedlings are easy to get started with, and you simply need to plant them in your container of choice and follow the rest of the care tips in this article.
For habanero seeds, it’s best to start them in a seed tray or similar. Plant them to the depth listed on the packet, and keep the soil consistenly moist. Place them in an area that gets filtered, indirect light. Once you see sprouts, you can move them to a location with more light. It takes about 8-10 weeks from planting until your habaneros will be ready to be moved to their permanent home.
Location & Container
Habaneros enjoy lots of direct sunlight, so make sure you pick a location that is going to provide adequate light. A large, south facing window is always a good choice, but anywhere sufficiently sunny will work also. We’ll talk more about lighting in the section below.
For the container, most pots or standard gardening containers will do the trick. I’m a big fan of standard clay pots, and once again they work well here. It’s important to note that habaneros like their soil to drain quickly, so choosing a pot that aids in that is important. Ensure you have proper drainage holes in your chosen container.
Habaneros are a medium size plant, so you’ll need to set aside a bit of space for them. They don’t need a ton of space, but certainly more than a small windowsill. Luckily, most habaneros tend not to be too “bushy”, so they are fairly easy to keep in their container.
With soil, it’s important to use a variety that is well draining. Habaneros like large amounts of water that drains quickly, and don’t want to be sitting in water for too long. Use a soil with a large amount of organic material to improve drainage as well as provide nutrients to the plant.
Including an inch or two of small stones at the bottom of your container can also help promote proper drainage. This gives extra space for water to drain that is out of reach of your plant’s roots.
Habaneros need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day. Any less and you’ll end up with a sickly looking plant and less than impressive peppers. That said, getting a few more per day won’t hurt and will encourage larger, faster pepper growth.
Grow lights can be used if you lack a good location with enough sunlight. Buy a few lights, place them roughly 12 inches from the plant, and run them a few hours a day to supplement the sunlight.
It’s also important to note that during the winter months the sunlight is frequently less intense. If you live in a location with distinct seasons, try and get an extra 1-2 hours of sunlight per day for your peppers to ensure proper growth. This is also a great time to utilize grow lights to keep up with lighting needs during the cold winter months.
When watering, provide a a good amount of water to thoroughly soak the soil, then wait until it is completely dry before watering again. Giving a week between watering is generally a good rule of thumb, but check your plant every few days to make sure.
Keep in mind during the winter however humidity is often lower and water will naturally evaporate slower. During these times, check the plant and don’t be afraid to hold off an extra couple of days before watering.
During the summer, you may also want to lightly mist the plants every couple of days. If you’ve brought them outside, and you live in a particularly hot environment, this is important to ensure the plants don’t prematurely dry out. It also helps prevent over watering as you can allow extra time for the previous water to drain while still keeping the plant healthy.
An important thing to keep in mind is that habaneros are generally warm weather plants. If you’re going to grow them indoors try to keep them in a location that stays warm. If you have an area near (not directly under!) a heating vent or unit that’s generally a good spot. This location will be a bit warmer and provide a better environment for your plant.
You should avoid exposing your habanero plant to cold temperatures and protect it from any frosts. These cooler temps will kill the plant quickly. If you’re growing outdoors in the summer, make sure to bring your plant inside well before the first expected frost date.
Habaneros can be picked once they are firm and green. You can also wait until later in the season when they will take on an orange to red tone. Either way the peppers will be perfectly good eat, although they are typically a bit spicier when allowed to color.
If you’re growing outdoors during the summer, make sure to pick all your peppers before the cool temperatures arrive. This is also a good time to pick them when growing indoors as well, as it helps keeps the plant’s natural rhythms.
Many gardeners also report with habaneros that they get their biggest harvest towards the end of the season. Personally, I see the majority of my peppers at the tail end of summer and even into early fall. If you’re not seeing any peppers during the summer don’t get discouraged as it may simply take a few more weeks. I’ll often see a bare plant one week, only to check a few days later and have it bursting with peppers.
If you’re growing your plant outdoors it’s possible to bring them indoors during the winter. This will greatly increase the amount of peppers you can harvest in the coming year as it will already be in a mature state to produce peppers at the onset of summer. Be aware though, your plant will likely not produce peppers during the winter as the lighting and temperature is not enough in most houses to do so. You can provide this environment, but likely comes with setting up a dedicated grow room with lights and temperature control. This is out of scope for most people, so this will just look at keeping the plant alive during the winter months.
The first step is to carefully uproot your plant and move it to an appropriate sized pot. Make sure to use something well draining to prevent root rot. Before bringing it inside, make sure to spray it down and check for pests to prevent moving them into your home.
A good tip here is to grow your habanero outdoors in a container. That way, you can simply move the container indoors and not have to deal with uprooting your plant.
Habaneros are a hot pepper that go great in dishes like chili, salsa, and sauces. They have quite a kick, but also a distinctive flavor. This makes them extremely popular as you're not sacrificing on flavor to get that heat. When working with habanero, try finely chopping them before adding them to your dish. Large pieces carry a lot of heat, so cutting them into smaller pieces can help to more evenly distribute it.
Winter Care Tips
During the winter, you’ll also likely need to water the plant less. Its growth will be less in the winter, and therefore it needs less water. If you notice the leaves start to wilt you can water more, but if it looks healthy you’re probably fine. Err on the side of less water as the plant will survive a small drought, but will quickly succumb to over watering. This is especially true during the winter months.
After winter, wait until the last frost has passed before moving the plant back outside. Once you do, it should start to produce peppers again fairly quickly. Doing this process you can keep a single plant alive for many years.
Growing Habanero Peppers Indoors
Nothing beats the spice of a habanero, and if you’re a spicy food love you’ll absolutely love having these on hand year round. While typically grown outdoors, we’ve shown how you can grow your very own peppers indoors and enjoy them any time of the year.
If you have any questions please feel free to reach out to us. We love helping fellow gardeners grow their dream gardens and are always happy to help.
How Often Should I Water Habaneros?
You should water them once the soil is dry to the touch. This is usually 2-3 times per week depending on the location and humidity levels. Note that this is often less in the winter due to plant dormancy.
How Much Light Do Habaneros Need?
You’ll want to get them at least 6 hours per day of bright sunlight. More is generally better as habaneros will not produce peppers in too low of light.
Can You Grow Habaneros Indoors?
Yes, habaneros are a great plant to grow indoor, and be grown with relatively little space. You can also hybrid grow them giving them outdoor time in the summer and moving them indoors in the winter.
Are Habaneros Hard To Grow?
Not very, but they can be tricky at times. Some will say growing from seeds can be difficult, but starting from a seedling can avoid most of this. After the seed stage they are fairly easy to grow.