Pepper Varieties Good for Any Garden

The results are in for the 2011 pepper trials in my Rocky Mountain garden. Here are seven varieties I’d recommend for any kind of gardening. Just for fun, can you guess which is the hottest pepper of the bunch?

The Red Mini Bell peppers, grown from seed purchased from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, did especially well in my container garden. The plant is still loaded with small peppers that are exceptionally sweet. I wrote about growing these peppers on my blog.

The Kung Pao peppers were grown from a transplant I purchased at a local garden center. I grew this variety so I could make my own Kung Pao chicken recipe, in addition to other Asian specialties. This plant, also grown in a container on my patio, grew to about 30 inches.  The peppers are long and skinny and have thin walls which helps them dry quickly.

I’ll always plant Jalapeno peppers in my garden.  These are my favorite hot pepper because they have such a nice balance of heat and flavor.  I planted two purchased plants (an early-season and late season) in containers so I could enjoy these dark-green peppers all season. One of my favorite ways to prepare them is to roast them on the grill, peel, and eat. I also like to pickle jalapenos.

The Long Slim Cayenne pepper plant was also purchased at a garden center. These are slender, pungent peppers that turn red on the plant. They have a warm heat when eaten fresh, but I plan to dry these and grind them into powder. Home-grown ground pepper tastes nothing like the drab store-bought pepper.

The Nu Mexico Heritage pepper plant was a special purchase at the Denver Master Gardener plant sale in May. This variety was developed at New Mexico State University as part of its research to help the New Mexico chile industry. The original seed for this pepper came from the National Seed Storage Lab in Fort Collins, Colo., and was selected “to develop a more uniform, thick-walled chile with consistent medium heat.” Seeds are available from the Chile Pepper Institute.

The Tabasco peppers are the real deal. I grew this plant from seed (also Baker Creek Heirloom Seed) and transplanted it to the container garden in June. It was the last of the peppers to bloom and start producing fruit. These peppers are the hottest of all the peppers I grew this year. I plan to let the fruit ripen to red and see if I can bottle my own recipe for Tabasco sauce.

‘Joe Parker’ is a medium-heat, New Mexico style chile from Renee’s Garden seeds. This variety is part of Renee’s mixed seed packet called Southwestern Chile Trio and it’s packaged together with Ancho ‘San Luis’ and ‘Sierra Fuego’ jalapeno seeds.

Do you have a favorite pepper variety to add to my list? I’d love to hear about it, so please add your comment here.



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Is the Cayenne the hottest?

Well, Pam I have to say the cayenne peppers were mild compared to the Tabasco–but of course, it depends on what you call “hot.” I’ve dried the cayenne and ground it into powder and it adds a nice spicy touch to my cooking. The Tabasco peppers are steeping in a vinegar mixture for hot sauce so I haven’t tasted that concoction just yet. The jalapenos in this batch were also especially hot.

Thanks for your question!


Hey Jody,

Been looking for a good hot sauce for my tabasco peppers that I’m growing here in South Texas which should be starting to ripen within the next couple weeks.

But, I’m confused, you said your concoction is still steeping in January? How long has it been in your fridge?

I’ve tried looking for your article finale, but I’m still looking. How did it go… end result?

Thanks for the note, Jim.

Peppers are more difficult to grow in Denver than in south Texas–we do have hot days, but it generally cools off at night so it takes a lot longer to get some kinds of peppers to ripen on the plant. In addition, we can also have early frosts that make for a short growing season. That’s why my pepper sauce was still steeping in January. I had to bring my Tabasco plant inside to let the peppers finish ripening and it took quite a while for them to get to the right shade of red, even when sitting in a sunny window.

It certainly was worth the wait, though. The end result was the best-tasting hot sauce I’ve ever had!


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