How to Plant and Grow Tabasco Peppers

Tabasco peppers are a popular variety of chili pepper. The plant tends to have a bushy growth habit. The peppers are tapered and roughly 1.5 to 2 inches long on average. Immature peppers are generally yellowish green and mature to hot yellows and shades of orange. They are named for the Mexican state of Tabasco.

Perennial – Zones 9-11
Annual Zones: 7-8
Soil: Loamy – Well Drained
pH Level: 6.2 to 7.0
Light: Full Sun
Height: 4 – 6 feet
Spacing: 18-24 Inches
Row Spacing: 2 -3 Feet
Tabasco Peppers growing in backyard
NOTE That Spacing requirements vary slightly among various varieties and are not written in stone but just general guidelines
Maturity: 80 to 90 Days
Fruit Size: 1.5 to 2 inches Average length. 1/2 inch around.
Water Moderately

Reaching 30 – 50,000 on the scoville scale classifies them as a hot pepper. The natural heat combined with their spicy smoky flavor makes them a very popular hot pepper.

Tabasco grows and produces best in warmer climates, but can also be grown with lower anticipated pepper production in cooler regions further north. It also performs well in containers and hydroponically.

Full Sunlight is essential for best results a bare minimum of 6-8 hours daily of full sunlight is needed.

Provide a sandy loam soil with ample organic matter that is well draining. Although the best ph is considered 6.2 to 7.0 tabasco peppers will tolerate pH levels as high as 9.5 or as low as 4.5

Hot peppers take longer than sweet peppers to reach their full sadistic potential. Most seed packets list a maturity date that calculates the time from when a transplant is placed in the ground till when you can harvest mature peppers, not from the time the seed is placed in the soil.

Peppers are best started indoors in late winter or early spring 6 – 10 weeks before the last frost date. Start from seeds and then transplant into the garden when night-time temperatures in your region are consistently above 50 degrees. [ The optimal soil temperature for peppers is 65 degrees F or warmer during their active growth period]

If you are buying transplants from a nursery , select sturdy plants that have at least 4 sets of true leaves. Avoid pepper plants that have already flowered, and Inspect plants for spots or lesions on them which should be rejected.

The average Tabasco Pepper is harvested around 2 to 2.5 months after planting. As a rule of thumb leaving Tabasco peppers on the plant longer than is necessary to ripen will decrease over all production.

Good candidates to companion plant with peppers include Corn, Onions, garlic and Alliums, Marigolds, Carrots, Parsnips, Beans.

Separation from other peppers is advisable. Peppers easily cross – pollinate and your hot peppers might end up messing around with a sweet pepper from the other side of the tracks. The end result could be a not so hot bland half breed.

Tips to Growing a Hotter Pepper


Prior to fruit set water generously.Hot peppers will produce peppers with the same amount of watering that you give your other vegetable garden plants – HOWEVER if you want a truly fiery hot Tabasco pepper you must remember that water puts the fire out. After blossom set and the first appearance of peppers cut back on the water – do not starve them, but only water when the foliage starts to droop a tad.

Nitrogen is represented by the first number on the “NPK Ratio” of any fertilizer. It is an essential nutrient needed by all plant life. In the case of fruit bearing plants such as Peppers too much nitrogen will produce lush plants with excess foliage but a lower quantity and quality of peppers. Avoid high nitrogen fertilizers for a higher quality hot pepper.

Nitrogen is needed for optimal pod production – but in Moderation.


Hot pepper plants produce best when there is abundant sulfur in the soil. A simple trick is to toss a few matches in each planting hole – uhhh you do know NOT to light the matches – right. Matches contain sulfur, and they’re more cost effective than buying bags of sulfur.

Epsom Salt

When Blossoms appear a foliar spray of diluted Epsom salts and water promotes fruiting. A teaspoon of Epsom salt per quart is the best ratio. See – Epsom Salts as Fertilizer. Some people use Hydrogen peroxide – but the benefits are questionable.


Hot peppers like good wine get better with age. The longer they age, the spicier and hotter they become. The capsaicin in the pepper increases as they age, so if you can wait until they are actually over ripe – in most cases red – you’ll be harvesting killer peppers that are hot hot hot.