Nashville is a great city to grow hot pepper plants. The long, hot summers there give peppers the extended growing season that they need to mature their flavors. In Nashville, hot pepper transplants can be set out in the garden in early May. They will produce right through to October or November. There are several varieties that do exceptionally well in Nashville's hot, humid climate.
Hungarian Wax Peppers
This long, yellow chili pepper is related to the sweet banana pepper. It is a medium-hot pepper suitable for chili and for stuffing. Hungarian hot peppers will begin to produce banana-shaped fruit approximately 70 days after setting out, which makes them ripen in mid-July to early August in Nashville. They can be picked at the yellow stage when they are 6 inches long or left to mature until they turn red.
This popular Mexican hot pepper is featured in many restaurants and nightclubs in Nashville. It is one of the easiest peppers to grow in the South and produces an abundant crop throughout the season. Jalapenos are considered a mild- to medium-hot pepper and are often pickled or used in salsas. They are ready to pick when they are bright green and develop a sheen. They can also be left on the vines until they are a mature red, but this will slow down the production of new peppers.
Black Pearl Peppers
Included in the University of Tennessee's Best Plants for 2008 and 2009, the Black Pearl pepper is becoming popular with Nashville gardeners. It was initially developed for ornamental gardens, but its strikingly hot taste and unusual eggplant-like color make it a great addition to many dishes. The Black Pearl is a compact pepper plant and the peppers rarely get larger than the size of cherries. They do produce a fair-size crop and a little goes a long way. Set them out in patio pots in early May and keep them regularly picked to encourage continued production.