Golden Cayenne

  • Sun: Full sun
  • Harvest Size: 4 to 6 inches long
  • Days to Harvest: 85 to 95
  • Plant Size: 18 to 24 inches tall, 18 inches wide
  • Scoville units: 30,000 to 50,000 (hot)

This pepper is a golden version of the traditional cayenne—with just a few differences. First, these peppers turn from green to golden yellow as they mature. Where traditional cayenne fruits are wrinkled and skinny, golden cayenne peppers tend to be larger with smooth skin.

It takes a while for the heat to show up in this pepper. We get emails from customers wondering why their pepper isn't hot, but just wait. It gets hot as it gets bigger. Mature, longer peppers (4 to 6 inches) have the most heat, especially when they have turned golden. Plants produce peppers all summer long even in summer heat and humidity.

Plant in spring to early summer starting anytime about two weeks after the last spring frost. If you like to plant a little early to start harvesting earlier, be prepared to protect plants from possible frost and keep them a little warmer with a row cover.

Plant Spacing: 12-18 inches apart in rows 30 inches apart. One plant per 18-inch container. Plants Per Person: 2 for fresh use; 4 to 6 for freezing, canning, or creating pepper sauce, relish, and jelly.

Secrets to Success »

Water regularly. Although more forgiving than bigger pepper types, you'll get more and better fruit if you water regularly. Drought stress often makes the peppers hotter, too. To help keep the soil moist, mix compost into planting holes, and mulch soil around plants. Fertilize during the growing season with Bonnie Herb & Vegetable Plant Food. Pepper branches are brittle. Stake plants as fruits start to form, tying pepper-laden branches to stakes, or use small tomato cages for support.

Harvest and Use »

Snip stems of individual peppers using a sharp knife or clippers, leaving a small portion of stem attached. Rinse and dry peppers; store in the refrigerator. The more peppers you pick, the more you’ll get. Pick at any stage—from green to gold—until you determine the stage and heat your family enjoys. For best results drying cayenne peppers, allow fruits to mature fully, turning bright golden yellow.

Handle all hot peppers with care; it’s best to wear disposable gloves when harvesting or handling fruit. Many a gardener and cook have learned the hard way not to rub your eyes, mouth, or nose while working with hot peppers. Wash your hands before using the bathroom, even if you’ve been wearing gloves. Capsaicin, the compound that produces the heat in a hot pepper, is primarily concentrated in veins, ribs, and seeds, but sensitivity to it varies. Use caution until you know how you’ll react. If pepper juice gets in your eye or nose, flush immediately with cold water. When the fire is in your mouth, grab fatty ice cream, milk, or yogurt to counteract the burn. Use golden cayenne pepper to spice salsa or Southwest-style cooking. You can also substitute golden cayenne in recipes calling for Serrano, Jalapeno, or Habanero peppers. Dry golden cayenne pepper and grind it to create a beautiful golden chili powder.

Try these garden companions »

  • Cilantro, tomatoes, and onions—all the ingredients you need for creating a hot garden fresh salsa.
  • Anaheim, Cowhorn, Jalapeno, Poblano/Ancho or other spicy peppers, onions, and tomatoes to blend a signature hot pepper sauce.
  • Sweet onion, Thai basil, squash, and cherry tomatoes to put spicy stir-fry on the menu.
  • Low growing flowers such as petunias and marigolds—colorful-fruited peppers look great tucked into flower beds.

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