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Carolina Reaper Peppers Not Turning Red? (Here’s Why)

Carolina Reapers are beautiful additions to your garden if you love a kick of heat in your meals or want to make some homemade hot sauce. However, when growing these peppers at home, you may notice that your Carolina Reapers aren’t ripening as and when they should. So, why does this happen and how can you fix it?

Harvesting too early, poor nutrient soil, or low temperatures can prevent your Carolina Reapers from turning red. To ensure the peppers ripen, shield them against extreme light and temperature fluctuations. You should also ensure that the soil is rich in nutrients and that you harvest them at the right time.

Consistency is vital to achieving the desired bright red color in Reaper peppers. This post looks at possible reasons why your Carolina Reapers aren’t turning red and offers tips on how to ripen them. We’ll also touch on how long it may take for Carolina Reapers to mature—so read on to discover more about this fiery plant.

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Holding an unripe green Carolina Reaper pepper.

Why Aren’t My Carolina Reapers Turning Red?

You’re among the many people growing Carolina Reapers and hoping to harvest some bright red peppers. However, you may wonder why your plants aren’t producing the color you expected. This is a common issue among many growers of Carolina Reapers, so don’t panic.

Your Carolina Reapers may not be turning red because you planted them in an area of low light or temperature or failed to provide the correct loamy potting mix. Your peppers may stay green if you don’t water them sufficiently and don’t ensure the soil is nutrient-rich.

Carolina Reapers could be one of the easiest pepper plants to grow. However, they need extreme care and patience to harvest the perfect produce.

Let’s explore the reasons why your Carolina Reapers aren’t turning red.

You planted Your Carolina Reapers Incorrectly

How you plant your Carolina Reapers matters significantly as it determines whether they’ll grow to maturity or stop growing somewhere along the line.

You can’t just plant your Carolina Reapers anywhere and hope for the best. You should follow these steps when producing your fiery Reapers:

  • Use a light organic potting mix and avoid adding soil from your garden as this tends to compact, affecting plant growth.
  • Ensure the area you choose to plant your reaper offers sufficient warmth or provide a heating mat.
  • Provide plenty of natural sunlight or opt for a grow light.
  • Space your peppers at least 18 inches (45 cms) apart to prevent them from competing for nutrients.

Be sure to check out our Carolina Reaper growing guide for step-by-step instructions on planting Carolina Reapers.

You need to consider a few factors if you want your Carolina Reapers to grow to maturity. One of them is how and where you plant the seeds and transplant the seedlings after they’ve grown a few inches tall.

Ideally, before transplanting the seedlings, it’s usually recommended to ensure the following:

  • Make sure that the bed tilling is deep enough
  • The drainage system should be favorable to support the plant’s growth
  • If the soil is too dense, the roots won’t be able to get the air they need, and the plant may suffocate, so make sure to use loamy soil.

Without the proper care, your Carolina Reapers seedlings may not mature into fruits. They may also fail to produce their vibrant red color.

Your Carolina Reapers Aren’t Getting Enough Sunlight

Carolina Reapers are ‘hot’ species. And as their nature goes, they need a relatively hot environment to mature. This requirement means they should be grown in a warm climate, ideally where the temperature is nothing below 60°F (15.55°C).

If you live in a cooler climate, you can still grow Carolina Reapers, but you may need to provide extra heat for them or grow them indoors. We grow our Carolina Reapers in a grow tent, which allows us to control the temperature and humidity.

Although Carolina Reapers can tolerate some shade, they require maximum sunlight to flourish. Otherwise, they can produce fewer or even smaller peppers, and the peppers could retain their green color. 

The Carolina Reapers are not Getting Enough Water

Reaper peppers need sufficient water to flourish to maturity, so you should never get tired of watering them.

Without adequate hydration, your Reaper peppers will be more susceptible to withering. Likewise, they will be less fiery.

In short, your Carolina Reaper peppers may not turn red if you’re not watering them sufficiently.

Photo of a Carolina Reaper seedling growing out of a seedling plug
Photo by Spicy Trio

Your Carolina Reapers Have Poor Soil Nutrients

Your Carolina Reapers need nutrient-rich soil, one with a 5-10-5 fertilizer combination or fish emulsion.

Nutrients support the maturity of peppers and provide the peppers with the energy and materials they need to grow and develop.

Without adequate nutrients, your Carolina Reapers will show stunted growth and development and will be unable to turn red.

The Temperature Isn’t Warm Enough

If you live in a colder climate, your Carolina Reapers may fail to turn red because you exposed the plants to excessively low temperatures.

Sometimes, the cold can cause the peppers to stay green. However, in extreme winters, the plants may fail to grow. When the temperature drops below freezing, the plant’s cells are damaged. Also, the fruits become mushy and tasteless.

If you expose your Reaper peppers to prolonged cold, the roots may die, and the plant will not recover.

You Harvested the Peppers Too Early

Another possibility is that you did not give your Reaper peppers enough time to ripen and turn red before you harvested them. Usually, it may take around three to four months for Carolina Reapers to be ready for harvest. Harvesting these peppers sooner than expected will mean interfering with their growth process and picking them when they are still green.

A Carolina Reaper pepper transitioning from unripe green to ripe red
Carolina Reaper pepper ripening. Photo by Spicy Trio

How Long Does It Take for Carolina Reapers To Turn Red?

Carolina Reaper peppers usually take about 90 days to mature and turn red. However, the exact time will depend on the surrounding environment. Carolina Reapers may be ready a few days before or later, depending on the climate and growing conditions.

Again, if you’re growing the peppers for their hotness, you can harvest them sooner. However, remember that sometimes the peppers will continue to ripen and get hotter after you pick them.

Once they mature, the peppers will change color from green to red.

How To Get Carolina Reapers To Turn Red?

If you want your Reaper peppers to turn red—you can do several things to promote the ripening process. These methods include raising the ambient temperature and providing sufficient hydration. Ensure the plants get plenty of sunlight and offer nutrients to the soil.

Increase the Temperature

If your Carolina Reapers have failed to turn red because you exposed them to too much cold weather, you can move them to a warmer location and give them some extra heat.

Keep the environment around your Reaper peppers at a consistent temperature. The growing temperature should be between 75 and 85°F (23.88 – 29.44°C).

In addition, you can also mist the peppers with water once a day to help promote evaporation.

The peppers cannot absorb the water and nutrients they need to ripen without proper evaporation. Just be sure not to overdo misting, as it can rot the peppers.

Photo of a blue rain tarp with water droplets shimmering in the sun.
Photo by Rob Van Hal

Make Sure Your Carolina Reapers Are Getting Enough Water

If your Carolina reapers aren’t turning red, giving them enough water can solve the problem.

How frequently you water your Carolina Reapers matters a lot. I would recommend giving them around 0.8 cups of water every nine days.

Ensure you provide them with enough water during hot, dry weather. Try to water them in the morning—to prevent the sun from absorbing all the moisture from the soil.

Also, make sure you’re using a well-drained soil mix and that your pots have drainage holes.

If your peppers are still not turning red, it may be due to insufficient sunlight.

Make Sure Your Carolina Reapers Are Getting Plenty of Sunlight

Carolina Reapers need at least 8 hours of direct sunlight daily. This duration should enable them to mature and bring out their hot red color. 

If you’re growing them indoors, place them near a sunny window.

However, if you live in an area with less than 8 hours of sunlight, you can supplement with grow lights. I recommend the HLG 100 LED Growlight from for your Reapers. This handy grow light offers 4000K full-spectrum white light to ensure that your Reapers reach their full fiery flavor—and color!

Keep in mind that grow lights can get very hot, so keep them at least 6 inches away from the peppers.

Carolina peppers are also quite heat-sensitive. So keep an eye on the temperature of your grow area. If it gets too hot, the peppers will not develop properly.

The Soil Should Be Sufficient in Nutrients

It’s essential to provide your Reaper peppers with the proper nutrients to ensure they mature correctly.

Nutrients play a crucial role in the development of the plant. They ensure that the fruit is large and flavorful.

The vital nutrients in Carolina Reapers are the following: 

  • Nitrogen. Nitrogen helps plants produce chlorophyll, which is essential for photosynthesis. It also facilitates the production of protein. Protein is necessary for cell growth and development.
  • Phosphorous. Another vital nutrient for Carolina Reapers is phosphorus. Phosphorus supports tissue growth and cell division. It also helps plants to produce flowers and fruits and store energy, which is necessary for the pepper to mature.

Providing your Carolina reapers with the proper nutrients will reward you with healthy, mature produce of delicious, hot red peppers.

Three ripe harvested Carolina Reaper peppers
Three ripe harvested Carolina Reaper peppers. Photo by Spicy Trio

Time to Harvest the Carolina Reaper Peppers

You may harvest your Reaper peppers, and you may harvest them when they reach their full size and color. However, you can gather them earlier if you seek smaller, hotter peppers.

Whatever the case, estimating the proper time to harvest your Carolina Reapers if you want them red is critical. To achieve this color, the best time to reap them is around 90 days after planting.

You can tell the peppers are ready to harvest when the leaves start to yellow—and the fruits are deep red.


Reaper peppers are a great addition to any dish and serve various purposes. However, when growing Reaper peppers, it’s best to consider several factors if you want them to turn red.

To harvest ripe Reapers, evaluate the temperature levels of the environment where you’re growing them. It’s equally crucial to regulate the amount of sunlight, moisture, and nutrients the plants receive. Finally, time your harvest since you don’t want to end up with unripe Reaper peppers.

With these steps in mind, your Carolina Reaper should be ready (and ready!) in no time!