Habanero peppers are among the hottest peppers the home gardener can grow. Favorites in Mexican food, habaneros can spice up many dishes. They are easy to grow and, like other pepper plants, love warm weather. Peppers can be an ornamental border plant with a spicy culinary bonus.
Determine your last average frost date for your area, and begin your habanero seeds 10 weeks before this date. You can find frost date charts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website, www.noaa.org, or at many seed company sites.
Fill peat pots with potting soil and plant two habanero seeds in each peat pot. Gently cover the seeds and water thoroughly. Set the peat pots into a tray and cover, keeping them warm but out of direct sunlight. When seedlings poke through the soil, uncover the pots and set the tray into a sunny window.
Water peat pots by filling the tray with water and allowing the water to soak up into the soil. Rotate the trays daily to allow the plants to get sunlight on all sides. When the first true leaves appear, choose the stronger plant and clip off the weaker one to allow the stronger to use all the nutrients in the soil.
Prepare garden soil by digging down to a depth of about 18 inches. Remove all rocks and roots. Dig in compost into the top 6 inches of soil. Plant habanero transplants about 15 inches apart after your last frost date. You can plant them in rows about 2 feet apart, or in a block formation 1 foot from each other for an intensive planting in a raised bed. If there is any chance of frost at night, cover the plants with black plastic at night and remove it during the day.
Grow the hottest habaneros by stressing your plants once they bloom. Water your plants only once a week or so, even if they start to look wilted. Stressing the plant causes it to create more capsaicin, which is the chemical that creates the heat in peppers. Alternatively, for slightly milder peppers, keep your plants well watered throughout the growing season.