Bhut jolokia is a particularly hot pepper cultivar of Indian origin, so much so that in 2007 it was considered the hottest pepper in the world according to the Guinness Book of Records, before being overtaken by Trinidad moruga scorpion first and then Carolina reaper.
The name bhut jolokia means snake pepper, it is also called naga jolokia or bih jolokia, always comparing the danger of this pepper to that of a snake (naga = cobra, bih = poisonous). Another common name is that of ghost pepper, perhaps because its spiciness comes a few seconds after tasting.
It is a plant of tropical origin, which we can grow annually even in our climate with some precautions (surely you have to anticipate sowing with a heated seedbed), by planting Bhut jolokia in the garden or on the balcony. So let’s discover the characteristics of this ghost pepper and the care needed to make it grow.
The ghost pepper plant
Bhut jolokia is a variety of capsicum chinense (the botanical species to which the hottest peppers in the world belong), probably hybrid with the species capsicum frutescens (a species to which the tabasco belongs). From this cultivar derives another famous Asian variety of pepper, the naga morich.
The plant is not particularly tall, reaches 100-120 cm, has cream-white flowers.
Characteristics and spiciness of chilli
The fruit of bih jolokia is elongated in shape, similar to naga morich, slightly larger (6-7 cm long, 2-3 cm in diameter), the peel is orange-red, particularly wrinkled.
The spiciness of ghost pepper is important, measured in a Scoville score of around 1 million SHU. This places bhut jolokia in the ranking among the hottest in the world, as we said in 2007 it entered the world Guinness record as the hottest.
Capsaicin is accompanied by an intense and fruity flavor that makes the ghost pepper an excellent culinary choice in the creation of spicy sauces and condiments.
Cultivation of bhut jolokia
Like many super hot peppers that originate in completely different climates from ours, bhut jolokia is not a very simple species to grow in Italy and requires special climatic precautions.
First of all, it is advisable to cultivate it as an annual plant, taking advantage of the hot summer months to reach harvest, considering the length of its ripening cycle it is advisable to sow it starting from January or February, letting the plant develop initially in the protected condition of a seedbed or grow box.
Germination of seeds
This pepper requires high temperatures to germinate, we certainly cannot wait for our climate to naturally create the right conditions at the birth of the seeds and we must therefore create a heated environment (using a heating mat can be useful).
READ MORE: SOWING CHILI PEPPERS
The cultivation of bhut jolokia does not differ from other varieties of chilli, I summarize for synthetic points and I refer
- We prepare the soil, so that it is well worked and fertilized.
- Excellent sun exposure is required, which will help the pepper ripen and develop a high degree of spiciness (capsaicin content).
- We transplant the bhut jolokia seedlings when the climate is stable above 15 degrees, even at night (usually April or May depending on the area).
- Let’s remember to irrigate when needed, since chilli plants have rather superficial roots.
- We consider inserting a simple brace (a bamboo cane for example), but generally not necessary.
- We pay attention to insects (especially aphids) and diseases. It may be useful to use preventive macerates (nettle, garlic, horsetail) and to carry out treatments in late spring with rock dust (zeolite or kaolin).
- Pruning is generally not required on bih jolokia plants, it is a cultivar that is not too exuberant from a vegetative point of view.
- Forms of fertilization during cultivation can improve the results (nettle and comfrey macerates, liquid fertilizer, pelleted manure).
- Pay attention to flower drops and lack of pollination which is a more frequent problem in this Indian jolokia pepper than in other varieties.
- The harvest takes place when the fruit is ripe, which we recognize by the bright red color of the skin.
Grow bhut jolokia in pots
This Indian pepper is also suitable for cultivation in pots, which offers us the advantage of being more easily repaired if necessary, the pepper plant from the cold.
The not too deep root system of chillies in general and the not excessive size that the ghost pepper reaches make it an excellent choice as a balcony pepper.
To grow in pots it is important to pay more attention to irrigation and remember to fertilize also during the life cycle of the plant, with fast-release organic fertilizers.