Thursday, June 5, 2008

Bhut Jolokia and Pollination


Pictures and article by Jason Wimbs

These seeds can be tricky to germinate so we have learned while starting to grow our own and do benefit from the germination solution and a germination temperature of between 80°F and 89°F. The flowers also benefit from hand pollination with a paint brush.

It is now the first week in June and some of our Bhut Jolokia Plants are doing well, they are really starting to grow and some of them are still struggling, we thought we had lost some of them because the all the leaves fell off of them but we just left them and to our surprise they came back growing leaves in at different way than they original leaves as pictured here. (Look closely at the tiny leaves growing.)

Since this is our first time trying to grow these peppers we have been doing a lot of reading and this is what I have read: The fruit on the Bhut Jolokia are typically between 3" to 31/2" long. Bhut Jolokia never produced fruits without artificial pollination in a greenhouse, and little pollen will be produced (which means their flowers might need a little help with a fine brush indoors - insects, especially bees, can be helpful as well).

Bhut Jolokia (or any open pollinated pepper for that matter) can cross pollinate with another type of pepper if the plants are close together. The seeds from those pods will not grow pure Bhut Jolokia plants if the cross pollination occurs. Open pollinated, (in this usage at least) means that if you eliminate cross pollination with other varieties (by distance or bagging or caging, etc.), and the flowers are pollinated by other Bhut Jolokia flowers, the seeds will grow true Bhut Jolokias. This is why we are growing our Bhut Jolokias alone in our greenhouse. That is not true for hybrids, no matter what you do to control pollination.

If you want to save seed from your Bhut Jolokia and be sure it isn't crossed, we needed to use some type of isolation technique so we bought our own greenhouse. Without that we could not be sure our seeds were true jolokia. Many times the peppers do self pollinate though and the seeds are fine then....Just no way for you to know until you grow them, now we are growing them and are learning by trial and error. Many times people here will swap seed that they say is open pollinated. That means they did not isolate the flowers and there is a possibility the seeds will not grow true. I've heard various percentages thrown around for cross pollination rates. Sounds like it depends a lot on how many insect pollinators you have around and how many and how close various varieties are. Also, some types are known to cross a lot more than others.

I read that the bhut jolokia never produced fruits without artificial pollination in a greenhouse,(which means their flowers might need a little help with a fine brush indoors - insects, especially bees, can be helpful as well). So when the time comes we have our fine brush and are ready to start the artificial pollination process. Hot house for the heat of India

5 comments:

  1. Thanks for the article. I am attempting to grow some of these firey little devils. It has been 3 weeks and still no seedlings, I figured all was lost then last night, POOF! 2 seedlings pushed out of the ground. I am hoping to get just enough peppers to get seeds for an earlier start next year, maybe late january or early february.

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  2. I STARTED GROWING THE GHOST PEPPER IN A PEAT PELLET.NOTHING AFTER ABOUT 3 WEEKS,SO I CRUMBLED THE PELLETS AND THREW THEM IN THE SOIL.ONE DAY I NOTICED 3 WEEDLIKE SPROUTS.SO I DECIDED TO DIG THEM UP AND PLANT THEM IN A GARDEN.NOW I HAVE 4PLANTS ABOUT 21/2 FEET TALL WITH ABOUT 15 PEPPERS ON EACH.I AM JUST LETING THEM GROW WITHOUT ANY POLLINATION ASSISTANCE BECAUSE THE FLOWERS WILL FALL OFF WITH THE SLIGHTEST SHAKE

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  3. I grew these before I realized how hard they are supposedly to grow. They weren't hard for me and are going quite nicely. I am a bit concerned however... They have produced many, many flowers and I have tried doing everything I can to pollinate them. The flowers fall off though, and I have yet to see any fruit.

    How long is it supposed to take until these plant produce fruit? Are the flowers supposed to fall off?

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  4. The bhuts require a cal mag to stop blossom drop lOok it up on google

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  5. I grew these last season and no flowers should not fall off, they should flower then each flower should produce a chilli pepper. The problem may be they were not weathered from young which can often lead to them being very fragile. You also need to monitor the plant incase it is getting too much water and sitting in drenched ground. Good luck!

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