3 best hot peppers to grow in pots or containers

If you are a lover of hot sauces and spicy food, you should grow hot peppers in your garden. And if you do not have a big garden, you can choose to grow several different types of hot peppers in pots, grow bags, or containers.

Selecting the best hot peppers to grow in pots was not as hard as I thought. And I am confident that my choices will suit all home gardeners, from beginners to expert-level pepper heads.

Quick facts: Cayenne pepper, jalapeno peppers, and habanero peppers are the 3 best hot peppers to grow in pots. You will get heat while the level of difficulty and time to develop suits all level gardeners in most four-season non-tropical grow zones.

The 3 best hot peppers for pots

I selected each pepper variety for its suitability to grow in pots and containers in combination with

  • The time to harvest factor
  • The level of difficulty factor
  • The level of heat factor

You can read more about each factor at the end of the article. I present the peppers from “hot” to “hottest”.

Grow jalapeno peppers in pots

Jalapeno pepper plant in pot (grown from seed)
Ripening jalapeno pepper with characteristic signs of corking
  • Heat: 2 500 – 10 000 SHU
  • Category: Medium
  • Time to germinate: 1-3 weeks
  • Time to develop: around 90 days

Jalapeno plants can grow to 1 meter / 3 feet tall and need a 3-gallon pot or container (or larger). Avoid planting more than one jalapeno plant per container.

Grow cayenne peppers in pots

Cayenne pepper plant in pot (grown from seed)
Still green cayenne slim pepper fruits
  • Heat: 25 000-50 000 SHU
  • Category: Medium-hot
  • Time to germinate: 1-3 weeks
  • Time to develop: 90 – 100 days

Cayenne peppers can grow to 120 cm / 4 feet. Plant cayenne pepper plants in a 3-gallon pot or container (or larger). Plant one cayenne pepper plant per pot. 

Grow habanero peppers in pots

Habanero Orange pepper plant in pot (grown from seed)
Habanero orange pepper fruits
  • Heat: 100 000 – 350 000 SHU
  • Category: Hot
  • Time to germinate: 1-5 weeks
  • Time to develop: 90 – 120 days

Habanero pepper plants can grow as tall as 180 cm / 6 feet but average around 150 cm / 5 feet tall. Grow your habanero plants in 5-gallon pots or containers (or larger). Plant one habanero plant per containers. 

How to select the best hot peppers for pots

Needless to say, the peppers I chose had to be suitable for growing in a pot. That is a given.

But beyond that base criteria, I decided to focus on the following.

The time to harvest factor

Hotter peppers take longer to grow, develop, and mature.

Generally, sweet peppers need between 60-90 days to mature, while hot peppers need anything between 90-150 days to develop and be ready for harvest.

Hotter pepper varieties are also more difficult to germinate. It takes longer for the seeds to sprout, forcing you to control soil moisture longer. 

Conclusion: Grow hot peppers that do not take too long to sprout

The level of difficulty factor

Hotter peppers take longer to germinate, and you need to start your seeds earlier in the year.

In many non-tropical grow zones, this calls for using artificial grow lights to develop strong, compact seedlings.

Also, when you grow really hot peppers like California reapers and Bhut Jolokia ghost peppers, it is easy to start over watering when seemingly nothing happens in the starter pot.

And if you do overwater, your seed will drown and rot. However, it can take weeks before you know for sure.

The level of heat factor

I am definitely on team heat, and my 3 best hot peppers for pots had to deliver a kick while not being too difficult to handle in the kitchen.

You should always use gloves and protective eyewear when handling hot peppers. But the really hot peppers like ghost peppers take it to a new level. 

Wrapup hot peppers to grow in a pot

Cayenne pepper, jalapeno peppers, and habanero pepper plants are the best hot peppers to grow in pots and containers.

To make it easy, use 5-gallon pots or containers for all three plants. But if you have limited space, cayenne and jalapeno pepper plants can be grown in 3-gallon pots.

Meet the author: Mattias is an experienced gardener spending most of his free time on his knees among herbs, plants and garden vegetables. For the past two years he has been sharing gardening projects and how-to tutorials on the NordicLavender website and YouTube channel.