Perennial Pepper Plants
Whether a pepper plant is an annual or a perennial all depends on how you take care of it or the location in which it grows. Generally, all pepper plants are perennials. However, they are susceptible to cold temperatures and can die after experiencing a harsh season. But if you are able to bring plants inside or otherwise protect them from the elements, then you can have peppers year after year. There are some pepper plants that tend to do well if they are overwintered properly.
The Scotch bonnet pepper is among the hottest of the edible peppers readily available to consumers. These peppers are small and similar in appearance to the habanero, but they look more like a Scotsman’s hat, hence the name. They typically appear yellowish green or reddish-orange when ripe and are grown primarily in the Caribbean islands--often in Jamaica and Belize. Scotch bonnets are a member of the Capsicum chinense family of peppers, which require a warm to mild climate year round to thrive. Taking these plants into a greenhouse or indoors and trimming them back during the dormant season will keep them coming back for many years.
The habanero is a popular hot pepper also from the Capsicum chinense family of peppers. They, like the Scotch bonnet, require warm climates to grow. However, these peppers grow mainly in Latin America instead of on the islands of the Caribbean. This pepper is a main crop of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, where 1,500 tons of the peppers are harvested each year. Habaneros overwinter similarly to Scotch bonnet peppers. They should be trimmed back during their dormant season. The habanero name means “from Havana," and these peppers are thought to have originated in Cuba, but were introduced into the Yucatan region, where conditions and space were better for their cultivation. These peppers are usually red, orange or salmon-colored and sometimes even white or brown. They are among the hottest popular consumer peppers and are shaped like small pumpkins or lanterns.
The Tabasco pepper originates from the Mexican state of the same name. These peppers are most commonly associated with the hot sauce made in Louisiana. The peppers are used in the recipe of the sauce and are now grown in large numbers in Louisiana for that purpose. They are not generally available for commercial uses outside of saucemaking, but individuals can raise them as a perennial plant as long as they are kept frost-free. The primary ingredients of Tabasco sauce are pureed Tabasco peppers, vinegar and salt.
The "ghost" pepper is technically known as the "Bhut Jolokia," and is officially recognized as the world’s hottest pepper. The ghost pepper registers more than 1 million Scoville heat units. In comparison, the habanero pepper registers around 200,000. This means the ghost pepper is up to five times hotter than the hottest pepper most people ever eat. It is in the same family of peppers as the Scotch bonnet and habanero and can be overwintered in the same way.