Ghost Pepper Growth Stages

Understanding the life cycle of the ghost pepper plant will help you be a better gardener. What are its growth stages?

Ghost peppers are among the hottest peppers in the world. It’s a perennial plant in warmer climates but grows as an annual in cooler climates. Understanding the pepper’s lifecycle can help you maximize its growth in your vegetable garden.

Understanding the Lifecycle

Ghost peppers have a growing season of up to 150 days from germination to harvest. Let’s explore each phase of its lifecycle, which includes germination, vegetation growth, flowering, pollination, fruiting, and ripening. 


Ghost peppers grow best in warm soil temperatures because they are tropical plants. Temperatures ranging from 75 – 85 degrees Fahrenheit are optimal.

Depending on the type, ghost peppers can take 20 – 40 days to germinate. Red ghost peppers, for example, can take up to 20 days to germinate, whereas chocolate ghost peppers can take up to 40 days.

germinating pepper seeds in a plastic tray

Vegetation Growth

Small white sprouts will appear 1 – 2 weeks after germination. After 4 – 5 weeks, the first leaves, also called true leaves, will emerge. Once the pepper plant produces its second set of leaves (third true leaves), it can be transferred to your outdoor garden. Gradually fortify the roots by placing it near a window.

Once your seedlings are around 3 inches tall or 3 – 4 weeks after they sprouted, transplant them to a different soil medium. It is best to use a loamy, organic potting soil.

A gardener wearing white glove planting on a dry soil


The ghost pepper plant will produce white or yellow flowers which will need to be fertilized for peppers to develop. Once fertilized, a fleshy pericarp will grow, thicken, and expand as the pepper matures. 

Just a quick tip: Pinch off any early blossoms that grow on your pepper plants. This will encourage them to focus on growing, which will result in a larger crop of peppers later in the season rather than having only a few small peppers early on.

Flowering ghost green peppers


Ghost peppers do not rely on other plants to pollinate. They are self-pollinating plants.

Some flowers will pollinate themselves and set fruit. Other flowers will rely on insects, butterflies, or small birds for pollination. 


Ghost pepper plants are ready to be harvested once their flowers are pollinated. The pericarp that developed during the flowering phase will continue to thicken and expand until it becomes a ghost pepper. 


You can harvest peppers while they are still young and green, but they will grow increasingly spicier as they mature and turn orange or red. It’s a good idea to use gloves when picking ghost peppers to avoid skin irritation. 

Once picked, the peppers can be stored in the freezer and seeds can be stored and planted for a new crop of ghost peppers.

Carley Miller
Carley Miller is a horticultural expert at Bustling Nest. She previously owned a landscaping business for 25 years and worked at a local garden center for 10 years.
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