Hot peppers (chili) landrace for higher altitudes in Switzerland

Since I talked about my chili aspirations in the Okra thread, which is not the right place at all, I thought I could document my plans and actions in a new thread.

A population/ landrace of small to middle sized chilis with medium heat. This population should grow and thrive outdoor in normal garden beds. (Contrasted with how we grew chilis for years: in pots, if possible always directly against the house wall. This of course means they don’t get enough rain and have to be watered, which means additional work) Long term it would be great if they could be direct seeded.

Material: in 2022, before I knew about landrace gardening, I bought and sowed some Chilis from VEN:

  • alte scharfe Elfriede
  • dunkellila Königin
  • edler Langscharfiger

These I had at my parents and boyfriends place in pots. I overwintered the potted plants, because why not? Additionally I saved seeds from them and some other (storebought) chili plants. I remember a Jamaican bell plant and probably some Habaneros. This spring I sowed some of this seeds. I sowed them indoor, without heat or additional light and only kept the earliest and strongest. I hardened them off, which is a real pain and the main reason I want to be able to direct seed outdoors. Then I planted them into a garden bed. They are exposed to the rain, wind etc and are propably about 25 cm high. But they flower! And have even some tiny fruit. I plan to harvest seeds, to repeat the process next year. I’ll also harvest seeds from the potted plants, because I like their fruit. One of the overwintered plants is also planted out and it does great.

I also have found self sown chili plants in a pot with apple seedlings. Since it is propably too late for them to flower and fruit this year, I’ll take them inside and save seeds from them next year, since these are the first plants that germinated an grew completely outdoor. Yes, of course it was in June, but it may still help me on my way to direct seeding them outdoors.

The pictures show my outdoors chili plants and their fruit. Exciting!


The chilis in the garden beds have really taken off these past two weeks. It was very hot, ideal chili weather. On one hand this means that there is less Selection, on the other hand, this plants already survived a quite cool July and set their fruit in wet weather, which means that I am very happy that these fruit are ripening and I’ll get to save seed from them and sow them next year. Since these did and do so well unprotocted, I’ll probably sow more of these seeds (the 2022 seeds they came from) in 2024.
I plan to do one plot of the 2022 and 2023 seeds, interplanted with Elfriede and Königin plants, since I like these, so they can all cross together.

In another plot I want to trial some more chilis to find worthy varieties to add to the gene pool.


I would not recommend trying habaneros or other c.chinense for cool weather, atleast not at first. They need lot’s more heat than c.annuum, c.baccatum or c.pubescens. Annuum is the best species to start with lower heat requirement and short cropping period. C.baccatum need just little bit more heat, but not that much more. Can affect week or two in production if conditions aren’t as ideal. C.pubescens is a bit more finicky. It doesn’t need that much heat and actually need cold nights, but also needs long season. Should be good there if you can have frost free long in to autumn. I will try to make some kinda list of varieties at the end of this season that I have tried and seem to have potential for cool climate.

1 Like

Thanks for your valuable advice, Jesse. I am not sure if the plants last year really were Habaneros, honestly. I believe I remember I bought some chili starts and some may have been Habaneros. Additionally, even if I had Habaneros, I’m not sure if I saved seed from them. On the other hand, the fruit un the picture look quite Habanero-like in regards to their form. Since they do so well this year, it would be a waste to not save seeds from them, I feel.

But you are no doubt right and I am right now working on my variety list for next year. I have identified about 15 varieties I would like to test next year and most of them are C.annuum. Mostly because the Elfriede and the Königin are C.annuum and since I like their fruit characteristics the most, it makes sense to focus mostly on their species, because crossing within the species should happen much easier than between. I have read that C.annuum and C.chinense are quite easy to cross/ fertile with each other, do you have experience with this?

Concerning C.baccatum: I have some on my list, but I have found a graph that baccatum doesn’t cross that well with annuum, which is a drawback for me. Of course, I could have them in one population together, even if they don’t cross…Somehow I feel that this is a stupid idea because I’ll have then 2 small populations instead of a big one and therefore less diversity in each. Or am I overlooking something here?

I am looking forward to your list, it will probably be very valuable for me.

I’ll add below the chart I am referring to, the source is: Chilisorten kreuzen und züchten -

1 Like

Atleast in the pictures there aren’t any c.chinense. I don’t mean you shouldn’t grow them, but maybe take easier with them and try to grow them in pots at first. In warm spot like side of a house they should do well and you might even need quite a big pot for them. As for interspecies crosses within capsicum, I don’t have experience and I plan to keep them as separate. I like their different tastes as they are and more interested in hardiness. I plan to cross with wilds within species and baccatum with some praetermissum that kinda same as baccatum. I do know that many of the superhot chinense have atleast some part frutencens from naga/bhut jolokia. There are are also some chinense hybrids with annuum and baccatum. Baccatum might not cross easily with annuum, but I know atleast one cross that is lemon drop x chilitepin (wild annuum). Probably more. Might be easier just to start with species crosses as making crosses isn’t that easy to start with.

If I understand you correctly, you are saying that the plants in the pictures I posted, are not C.chinense and therefore can not be Habaneros? That’s great because then they are propably C.annuum?

I apologise for my ignorance, I simply have no Idea what kind of plants I saved these seeds of, then! Whatever they are, they grow well now and if they are annuum, they should be able to cross freely with my favourites, which would be great news.

No they don’t look chinense, but might need more photos to say for sure. At first I thought one of them was bishops hat (baccatum), but now that I looked more closely I’m not sure about that either. Baccatum are easy to distinguish as they have distinct colour inside flower that is shades of green, usually yellowish or brownish. Annuum is usually only to have purple in leaf nodes. There are lot’s of small details you can notice after you have grown them for a while.

1 Like

I will look at them more closely tomorrow, thank you! I have read that about the baccatum flowers and I believe the flowers of the plants in question are simply white, but I’ll check more thoroughly tomorrow.
Didn’t know about the purple in leaf nodes, will check for this as well

Hi, I could provide you with some Elephant Russel chili peppers, which I got from an Irish seller and which thrive outside here in France: I am harvesting my first ones in mid august. They are yellow, and quite long

Good morning Thomas! Thank you, that is very generous of you! This seems to be a lucky coincidence, since the Elefantenrüssel is in fact on my wishlist. Can I give you something in return? Is it ok for you, if we revisit the topic in winter, then I’ll be better able to tell you what I have than right now.

Yes Laura, talk to you later on…

1 Like

I looked at them again and the flowers are a simple white and the the plants have purple around the nodes, soo…C.annuum they seem to be.

In contrast the flower of a (ovwrwintered) Jamaican bell plant (C.baccatum)

Is the difference in form also typical? Because I see the color, but also, the form of the flowers between my mystery seedlings and the Jamaican bell is quite different.

Yes, baccatum is quite distinct in flower form, but also in general form of the plant. Maybe not always clear in pictures with some varieties, but usually it’s quite easy to pick out even with some random snapshot from small part of the plant. C.annuum and c.chinense are maybe little easier to confuse although usually differences are clear. Both have usually white flowers and although chinense flower is usually not fully open, annuum can be like that also. Accurate definition is made from stamen, but personally I haven’t learned that but use whole plant. Chinense is usually a lot more compact, although this can be visa versa; compact annuum and little higher chinense. Both do have purple in stems (I don’t think baccatum ever has), but it’s little different in each species. Once you grow them for years you might start to pick up their peculiarities. Top two do look like annuum.

1 Like

Today I talked to a friend I gave some chili seeds to this spring. He sowed my seeds and two distinct kinds of chili came up.
One: the fake Habaneros from above
Two: a chili that ripens over violet to red. First I thought this is my Dunkellila Königin but the fruit shape is wrong. The Königin is somewhat blocky (picture below), while his have a pointy end. Maybe this is a cross between the Königin and some pointy chili like cayenne we had last year? I asked how the vigor of these plants is and he said extremely different. Apparently one plant is a little bush with more than 40 fruit, the other is barely 20 cm high and has 3 fruit. This is interesting to me, because the Königin is very slow in germinating and has low vigor all summer, but picks up in fall, which means it needs a sunny fall for the full yield. It would be great if this vigorous F1 cross could mitigate that.

Anyway, he will give me seeds back, so I can reintegrate this cross into my planned landrace. It might be interesting to sow next year most of the 2022 seeds, to identify even more of these potential crosses.


On the first October I have picked the first of my fake Habaneros. They are not very hot, but enough. I am looking forward to seeing how long the plants survive this fall. Since they are so small plants, my mother plans to dig some of them out and take them inside to let the fruit ripen. They are still going strong with flowering and forming new fruit


Recently, my mother has dug up the six fake Habaneros, repotted them and taken them inside. I don’t know if this effort is really worth it, because the one chili I picked green ripened just fine off the plant.

They are just beautiful sturdy little plants. None is higher than 30 cm but most have more than 10 fruit! And it turns out that they DO have some decent heat, just not in the first fruit I tried. Some of the fruit ripen directly from green to orange-red and then to a deep red, while some fruit seem to take a detour to yellow. I wonder if they will stay yellow or ultimately ripen to red, too.

The more I think about these plants, the more I am in love. Now I want to cross them with very early chilis, to get much earlier ripening. Of course, I could just say that I will always overwinter a few plants so I can get early fruit and the seed grow planrs give me fruit late in fall, but I would really like to have both in one population. I really liked overwintering chilis last year, it was surprisingly easy and I will probably always overwinter one or two plants I get attached to, but yhe goal is to get an early ripening seed-grown free-land population. So I will probably interplant the fake Habaneros (clearly they need a better name) with the Alte scharfe Elfriede and the Dunkellila Königin, so they can all freely mingle and cross.

1 Like

Those still look remarkably like some chinense. How’s the smell and taste of the fruit? If you have some experience it’s very easy to distinguish chinense from annuum by smell and taste of the fruit. Those fruits are ripe so you must have to different colour variations of similar looking pepper. Generally colour changes within a week to final colour and there aren’t that kinda long detour. Most of ripe fruit colours are vibrant and so if it would go from yellow to red, yellow would be dull. On the other hand some ripe colours are also dull so there isn’t one rule that fits all. Also there can be some variation in underripe colour so that it might not be easy to know when the actual colour change starts if you don’t have experience from dozens of different types of peppers. Digging plants up to ripen indoors doesn’t help if the peppers are at green mature stage. At that stage seeds are ripe and fruit ripens unassisted. If you want seeds and are not sure what stage they are, taking them indoors would help to make sure. If they are green immature then they still need to develop before they ripen unassisted. Peppers do shrivel easily that they might not fully ripen even if they physically could because of that. Usually if you have had some ripe fruits the main harvest should not be that far from ripe that they didn’t ripen off the plant.

Hello Jesse, thank you so much for the feedback. Concerning the color: the green ones are already vibrant, I don’t know what this does mean…

I don’t know if they are chinense! In the beginning I thought that they were, since I bought the parents last year as Habaneros. Then I was irritated, because the fruit last year were not hot at all. I still thought they were Habaneros and then I asked here about the difference between annua und chinense and you looked at the pictures and guessed they were annua. So if you now think that the look chinense-like, I am quite lost :rofl:

Concerning the taste, they are quite hot, but I am sorry, I am not knowledgeable enough to know the typical chinense-taste you speak of.

Since they did so well, I am saving seeds anyway, but I would prefer that they were annua, since I intend to cross my best chilis and the other ones are definitely annua.

My mother didn’t take them inside for fruit ripening, though it is a nice effect that they keep much better on the plants. She simply wanted to see if she could overwinter them, since we found that overwintered plants give fruit about 2 months earlier than seed grown ones.

In the picture above are (from top down): the fake Habaneros, the Alte scharfe Elfriede and the Dunkellila Königin. These are the chilis that have done well for me and these are the chilis I intend to cross.

In the picture below are pictured (from left to right): a baccatum, a annua I got from my university and a sweet annua.
From these, I may use the sweet one to bring some size into the population.


Annuum and chinense do have some overlap in looks so it’s not always easy to be 100% certain, especially from pictures. Now that I looked first pictures again they look like annuum if the first 2 pictures are from the same plant. Annuum tend to have thicker stems in their fruit like you have in the pictures. Also chinense mostly have several flowers, and often several fruits, from same the leaf node. Annuum do sometimes have more than one, but those tend to be smaller varieties. Chinense on the other hand I don’t remember them having just single flowers from a leaf node. Might be that only one grows after flowering, but usually there are more. So I would still say it’s an annuum, just atypical looking fruits.

Smell of chinense is quite easy to distinguish once you try more of them. There is still variance in smell and taste, but there is something common too. Most noticeable it’s in light coloured varieties that tend to be floral. Kinda perfume smell and some people taste it also strongly.

Annuum always ripen to some form of red, yellow or orange, with possibly some purple remains. Vibrant green is when the underripe fruit is at technical ripeness. Seeds are ready then. Chinense do have some ripe when green, although they too usually have some yellow/mustard tinge.


Jesse, thank you so much for your explanations. Now I am 99% sure that these are indeed C. annuum.