Discovering new chili varieties is exciting. The creation of new crossbreeds is something special.
Scientists, to date, have traced the origins of chili plants back to the lands of modern-day Mexico, but over time the genus of life called "Capsicum" has made its' way around most of the known world. Through time and evolution, the life under this genus has given rise to 20-27 species and within those - thousands of varieties. The fruits of these plants have been shown to be dramatically, beautifully diverse in shape, size, color, flavor, heat level, and even texture.
In recent years this diversification has been hastened and pushed all the further with the advent of peppers becoming more popularized around the world. With people becoming more aware of the medical and nutritional benefits, as well as becoming fascinated by the race to see how just how potently spicy peppers can become, more and more people are delving into creating crossbreeds and hybrids.
Are you looking to learn how to crossbreed peppers?
Over the years as I have researched and explored, and have spent time on The Hot Pepper forum, I have discovered number of resources that come recommended for anyone looking to try their hand at creating their own varieties. The best of those resources are listed below.
- Crossing Chili Peppers - This page presented by thechileman.org has been a long-time staple in the chilehead community. It provides some details on how to create a new variety, but more importantly it provides a detailed chart outling the compatability between different species of the Capsicum genus.
- Fatalii's Guide to Crossing and Breeding Chile Peppers - This page has been praised for doing what most other guides on the topic leave out - providing step-by-step clear photos. This guide provides a very clear, concise process for optimising your chances of achieving the specific cross-pollination of your choice.
Though, to date, I have not tried my hand at manually creating a cross of my own, I do have one that I have spent the past four years working towards stabilizing - a cross between the Cheiro Roxa (Brazilian in origin) and the White Ghost (a Naga Jolokia phenotype).
In 2018, I had grown several White Ghost plants from seeds harvested from plants I had grown in previous years. Due to limited space, no access to material for properly isolating plants, and allowing pollinating insects to aid in production - the chance/risk of cross-pollination has always been a possibility with the plants I have grown*. This was the case this particular year when several of these plants clearly displayed unexpected traits. While a few had developed pods that matured to red, one very special plant exhibited something I felt was much more unique.
This one plant displayed noticeably different characteristics from the White Ghost even from the point it was a seedling. Rather than the common green leaves, stem, and branches there was hints of purple blended in. When the pods began to produce, though they retained the shape of the White Ghost, many had the same purple color blending with the light green on their skin. Upon maturing, these pods developed in color to a shade of peach.
Realizing quickly that I wanted more than just photos to serve as a record of the traits of this new cross, I decided to take record a video of the original plant. In this way, I am able to reference the video clip to quickly see the traits exhibited in the leaves and stems, as well as see the different stages of development of the pods on the plant. That video clip is displayed below:
Since discovering this cross, I have grown out seeds from the original plant and from there have taken seeds from the pods on the plants of each following generation that I feel have most closely exhibited the traits found on the original plant. I have also made a point of keeping the plants of each generation that I grow out in a greenhouse separate from all the other pepper plants I grow, to provide at least some degree of isolation.
In the coming years, if I manage to produce a strong degree of stability with this new cross, I intend to name this new variety after a close friend who passed away in 2016 and who had jokingly, not long before passing, asked that I someday name a pepper after her. With the help of some of her childhood and best friends, a fitting name has been decided that will become official when I feel it is time.