Growing anything is incredibly rewarding. Growing something that made Shaquille O’Neal puke on live TV … that sounds extra rewarding, let’s grow some of that!!

A growing trend in backyard gardening is growing hotter and hotter varieties of peppers. Once exotic, Ghost Pepper – Carolina Reaper – Scotch Bonnet, are commonly known peppers now and backyard gardeners are excited to try their hand at growing these extreme varieties. Look through any of the top seed catalogs and you’ll know it’s popular! People want the hot varieties and the seed companies are happy to provide them.

What’s behind this trend?

Hot peppers have become the viral sensation of the garden! We have popular shows like ‘Hot Ones‘ by First We Feast. We have all varieties of similar extreme food challenges going viral on every form of social media. These of course include celebrities but also a wide array of competitors… from grandmas to frat boys!

My kids even snuck some of our own habaneros to school and got in trouble for an unsanctioned pepper challenge. No one was injured for long but it was apparently enough of a distraction for the school to ask us to never do that again. Still, we grew the peppers and to be honest with you… I’m not, not-proud that our peppers took out a 10th grade class!

The more serious side of peppers is going viral as well. Long time specialty pepper growers devoting time to blogs and of course YouTube. The top contributors I’ve found are Kang Star & Johnny Scoville. These YouTube channels are a great resource for anyone wanting a deep dive into more obscure varieties as well as the best advice you can find on growing these monsters.

It doesn’t matter because the trend itself is fantastic for our gardening revival. We are fortunate that peppers are such a great entry point into gardening. They’re easy to grow and even grow well in containers for those without access to land. It’s a great crop for learning basics of starting from seed, pruning, pickling, dehydrating, seed saving … all important fundamentals.

Grow Morristown has gardeners that are totally on board. Here’s a look at some of our hottest 2021 peppers!