By Judy Wolfe
If you’ve ever wondered what makes hot peppers hot, the answer is capsaicin. “Trinidad Scorpion” (Capsicum chinensis “Trinidad Scorpion”) produces wrinkled, orange-red fruits with enough tongue-searing capsaicin to average a whopping 1.03 million Scoville heat units, according to researchers at New Mexico State University’s Chile Pepper Institute. Given the right growing conditions, a healthy 2- to 3- foot “Trinidad Scorpion” produces its fiery harvest in 90 to 100 days.
“Trinidad Scorpion” needs at least six hours of daily sun, with afternoon shade when temperatures exceed 95 degrees Fahrenheit. To ensure it a steady supply of nutrients, incorporate a 3- to 4-inch layer of organic compost into the top 1 foot of soil. Adding compost before planting eliminates the need for future fertilizing. Feeding a blooming “Trinidad Scorpion” may result in flower and fruit loss.
Planting “Trinidad Scorpion”
To give your “Trinidad Scorpion” a good start, plant after danger of frost has passed. Dig a hole deep enough that the top of the root ball is level with the soil line. Carefully slide the plant it from its nursery pot, gently pull matted roots way from the center of the root ball, and sever encircling roots with a sharp, clean knife. Center the pepper in the hole and slowly replace the soil, tamping gently to eliminate air pockets. When planting multiple hot peppers, space them 18 to 24 inches apart.
Watering “Trinidad Scorpion”
After watering to settle the soil, mulch “Trinidad Scorpion” with compost or pine needles. Water to keep the soil consistently moist as the roots establish. After new leaves appear, let the soil to dry slightly before soaking it to a 4-foot depth. A soaker hose or drip line provides a slow, deep drink with minimal runoff.
Pepper pests include sap-draining aphids and whiteflies that cover their feeding sites in sticky honeydew. Soil-inhabiting cutworms chew seedlings off at the base, while green tomato hornworms strip leaves. Black flea beetles, striped Colorado potato beetles and wedge-shaped, winged leafhoppers also snack on foliage. Spraying the pepper with a strong blast of water dislodges aphids and whiteflies. Pick off hornwoms, cutworms and beetles and drown them in soapy water. To attract lacewings, parasitic wasps and other beneficial insects that feed on the various invaders, plant shallow-bloomed, nectar- or pollen-bearing annuals, such as cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus), near your “Trinidad Scorpion” pepper.
For organic insecticidal control of aphids, leafhoppers and whiteflies, drench the plants with ready-to-use insecticidal soap spray. Full control may require multiple applications spaced every two to three days, or at the manufacturer’s recommended interval. Wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and hat, use protective eyewear and follow the label’s directions when handling any insecticide.
To prevent fungal or bacterial wilts, root and collar rot, never let the “Trinidad Scorpion” pepper’s soil become waterlogged. Managing incurable viral diseases, including tobacco mosaic and cucumber mosaic viruses is a matter of limiting their spread. If any of your vegetables show signs of viral infection, such as stunted growth and crinkled mosaic-patterned foliage, remove and burn or dispose of them in sealed bags. Then wash your hands and tools well before handling your “Trinidad Scorpion.”
- University of California Cooperative Extension Stanislaus County: Peppers in Your Garden
- New Mexico State University News Center: NMSU’s Chile Pepper Institute Names the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Hottest Pepper on Earth
- Smart Gardener: Peppers — “Trinidad Scorpion”
- Bonnie Plants: Planting Peppers Step-by-Step
- Harvest to Table: Pepper Growing Problems: Troubleshooting
- University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program: Aphids
- University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program: Whiteflies
- University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program: Leafhoppers
- Vegetable Gardener: Control Colorado Potato Beetle with a Mix of Strategies
- Farmer Fred: Plants That Attract Beneficial Insects
- University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program: Pesticide Information — Active Ingredient, Soap
- Carribean Agricultural Research & Development Institute: Hot Pepper Production Manual for Trinidad and Tobago
- Image Source/Stockbyte/Getty Images
About the Author
Passionate for travel and the well-written word, Judy Wolfe is a professional writer with a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from Cal Poly Pomona and a certificate in advanced floral design. Her thousands of published articles cover topics from travel and gardening to pet care and technology.