Cayenne plants grow to be about 24 to 30 inches tall and 18 to 20 inches wide. The peppers are elongated and not very juicy, so they are easy to dry for storage. They do not have a characteristic hot aroma, but they do have a spicy, biting flavor. In fact, the entire plant is hot, including the leaves and stems.
Cayenne plants are native to South America, where they are large perennial shrubs that grow up to eight feet tall. They are grown as annuals in North America.
Plant Cayenne Peppers
Start cayenne seeds indoors 12 weeks before you plan to set the plants outside. Plant the seeds 1/4 of an inch deep in a fresh potting medium in seedling trays, and keep them warm and moist. Cayenne seeds may take two weeks to germinate. Once the seeds have sprouted, give them plenty of bright light, and keep them warm and away from drafts.
Cayenne plants can be purchased at most garden centers.
Prepare the area of the garden where you will set your cayenne pepper plants. They require full sun and warm temperatures. Till or dig the soil deeply. Mix in compost or organic fertilizer.
Create a slight ridge on which to plant your cayenne peppers. Cayenne peppers like plenty of water, but not soggy roots. Planting them on a slightly raised ridge will improve soil drainage.
Set the cayenne pepper plants into the ground at the same depth they were growing. Cover the roots well and firm the soil around them. Space cayenne pepper plants about 18 inches apart in rows three feet apart. Mulch with organic material.
Use cayenne in a container garden. Transplant cayenne into pots at the same depth they were growing. Keep the pot in full sun, and keep it watered well. Do not allow the soil to dry out. A 12-inch pot is a good size for one cayenne plant.
Caring for Cayenne Plants
Fertilize cayenne with organic fertilizer that is not too high in nitrogen. Too much nitrogen will promote heavy foliage and few blossoms and fruits. Look for an organic fertilizer with 0-5-5 or 5-10-10 (nitrogen-phosphorus-potash) ratios.
Keep cayenne peppers evenly moist. Do not allow the soil to dry out. Mulch will help retain moisture.
Remove any damaged foliage and fruits. Cayenne peppers have few, if any, insect pests, but occasionally a damaged fruit may begin to develop a fungus or rot. Disposal will keep the fungus from spreading.
Pick cayenne peppers when they are ripe. Keep them picked, and the plants will continue blooming and producing throughout the season.
About this Author
Fern Fischer is a freelance writer with more than 35 years' experience. Her work has been published in various print and online publications. She specializes in organic gardening, health, rural lifestyle, home and family articles. Fischer also writes about quilting and sewing, and she professionally restores antique quilts to preserve these historical pieces of women's art.