Growing Cayenne Pepper
in Northeast Florida Vegetable Gardens
( Capsicum Annum )
Cayenne peppers are an Heirloom pepper plant that has been aroung for a very long time! They are spicy hot and bright glossy red when ripe. Really a pretty garden addition, easy to care for and very prolific, one grower obtained almost a 5 gallon bucket full from a single plant! Cayenne peppers grow an average of 24-36 inches in height and do well in the Norhteast Florida landscape.
Cayenne peppers rate on the Scoville scale as 30,000 to 50,000. (That’s not as hot as the beloved St. Augustine Datil that rates 100,000-300,000 / and MUCH HOTTER than a Jalapeno that rates anywhere from 2,500-5,000) So be sure to handle these hot gleaming red gems with care and wear gloves or WASH YOUR HANDS THOROUGHLY several times after handling! Never touch your face especially your eyes after touching your Cayenne peppers and keep the plants away from small children.
Don’t let all those warnings scare you off, they are just things you need to know in case you have never encountered a Cayenne, Tabasco, Datil, Habanero, or any other of the crazy hot peppers they call “Super Hot” like the new Carolina Reaper, Ghost pepper and other torture devices for crazy daredevils. There is a huge gap from handling a spicy pepper to handling a hot pepper and an even bigger gap from hot pepper to super hot pepper!
Enjoy growing your own heat with Cayenne peppers in your garden!
Foliage, Origins, and Use of Cayenne Pepper for Northeast Florida vegetable gardens:
Cayenne is an Heirloom open pollinated pepper selection that has been around since the 1800’s passed down from one generation of adoring fans to the next.
Make your own Hot pepper vinegar with green unripe Cayenne peppers fresh from your own garden’s harvest. Traditionally, Cayenne peppers are dried and added to sauces or stir frys to add heat to a dish.
My personal favorite use for Cayenne peppers is to add a few dried Cayenne Chile peppers to some olive oil on high heat. Stir for a minute or two, add some sliced garlic, stir for another minute, then toss in a bunch of fresh oriental greens (or vegetables of your choice) add a bit of sea salt, stir for a few more minutes and you’ve got yourself one delicious vegetarian dish!
Planting Season for Cayenne Peppers in Jacksonville and St. Augustine Florida and the surrounding areas:
Cayenne peppers can be planted as soon as the weather warms in spring. Late February to early March through April and again in July an August are considered a warm season crop, they are frost sensitive and should only be planted in frost free months in Northeast Florida vegetable gardens, or placed on a porch or patio to keep the frost off during the winter season.
Start your peppers in February from seed and March from S & J Nursery transplants. Growing season for Cayenne peppers in the Jacksonville and St. Augustine area garden is February to July.
Sun Exposure for Growing Cayenne Peppers in Northeast Florida Vegetable Gardens:
Cayenne peppers can be planted into a full sun or sun with a bit of afternoon shade in the Northeast Florida , Jacksonville and St. Augustine area gardens.
Soil Preferences for Cayenne Peppers in the Jacksonville and St. Augustine Florida areas:
Cayenne peppers will do best in the Northeast Florida garden when grown in soils that have been generously amended with compost.
Be sure to plant into well drained soils.
Care of Cayenne Pepper Plants in the Northeast Florida Vegetable Garden:
Watering Your Cayenne Peppers:
Newly planted Cayenne peppers will require watering daily for the first few days to a week after being planted from seed or transplanted from an S & J Nursery container.
Once the Cayenne pepper plants are established and growing, be sure to keep the soil moist by watering at least once per week if rainfall is scarce, when plants are bearing fruits, start watering twice a week.
Mulching your Cayenne Pepper Plants:
For maximum growth potential, mulch plants generously, this will help conserve moisture.
Fertilizing Your Cayenne Peppers:
Feed every two to three weeks with an all purpose fertilizer like 6-6-6.
Or for an organic approach, try fertilizing with a mixture of fish emulsions and seaweed (kelp) at one ounce each per gallon of water. Apply semi weekly as a foliar spray.
If your vegetable plants look like they could use a boost, give them a good watering with homemade compost tea as soon as the top few inches of soil around your plant is dry to the touch!
Harvesting Your Cayenne Peppers in the Northeast Florida Vegetable Garden:
Cayenne Peppers can be harvested when skins are still green or once they have ripened to the mature red peppers. When harvesting green, it my be best to wait for the skins to be glossy and the tips to show the barest hint of orange developing to be sure your peppers are matured. Be sure to wear gloves when harvesting and wash your hands several times with water and soap to remove the oils from the pepper after handling, especially when cutting peppers open to harvest the seeds. Remember, these peppers are hot and handle them with care. Keep those hands away from you’re face and eyes!