If you’re looking for a smoky hot flavor, you’ll find it in the white habanero (Capsicum chinense Jacquin ‘Habanero White’). The white, jelly-bean size peppers grow on a small shrub that reaches 18 inches in height — perfect for indoor growing. The white hab is germinated and grown very much like the traditional orange variety.
What you’ll need
- Germination container
- Liquid detergent
- Household bleach
- Soilless seed starting mix or sand and perlite
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Shallow pan
- Heat mat
- Fluorescent lights, optional
Container and soil
Although any container with holes in the bottom for drainage will suffice as a germination pot, germinating the white habanero seeds in plastic cell packs makes transplanting easier.
Full disclosure: I get commissions from purchases made through links in this post. I haven’t received any products for free — all of the ones I refer you to are those that I purchase and use in my own garden.
Wash used containers in hot soapy water and then sterilize them for 15 minutes in a solution made of 1 part household bleach to 10 parts of water.
Avoid using potting soil because these seeds will rot in it. Plant them in lightweight, sterile seed-starting mix that doesn’t contain soil. These are commercially available (I’ve mentioned before that I prefer Pro Mix because it contains a fungicide) or you can make your own by mixing equal parts of sand and perlite.
Plant the white habanero seeds 10 weeks before the last frost date in your area. Disinfect the seeds before planting by giving them a one minute soak in a solution made of 1 teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide in 1 cup of water. Insert the seeds 1/2 inch deep into the germination medium and cover them lightly with the mix. If you’re using a pot instead of a cell pack, space the seeds 1 inch apart.
Turn on the hot water faucet and allow the water to heat up completely. Fill a shallow pan halfway with hot water and set the pots or cell packs in the water. Allow them to soak up the hot water until the surface of the planting mix is wet, and then remove them. This treatment heats the mix, giving the habanero seeds a germination kick-start. The seeds don’t require light to germinate but they do need a warm planting medium. An ideal way to provide the heat they need is to place the container on a heat mat set to between 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit Keep the soil barely moist. The white hab seeds should germinate within four to 12 weeks.
When the seedlings emerge, turn the heat mat to 70 degrees and place a fan next to the container. Don’t allow the air to blow directly on the seedlings, but direct it so the air flows over the top of the container. This will help avoid fungal diseases. At this point the pepper seedlings require sunlight. Either move them to a sunny window or place them 6 inches beneath fluorescent lights for at least 10 hours each day. When the seedlings have their third set of leaves, transplant them into their own containers. If you’ll be growing the white hab indoors, you will eventually want to move it up to a 5-gallon container.
Photo courtesy of ethno-botanik.org