Ghost peppers, also known as bhut jolokia chilies, are thought to be the world’s hottest peppers. They originated in India, and thrive in heat and humidity. Since these peppers take more than five months to get from germination to harvest, your climate is far from ideal because your growing season isn’t long enough. Anything less than full sun and high humidity will reduce the amount of heat in the peppers.
According to the New Mexico State University Chili Pepper Institute, bhut jolokia peppers are difficult to grow and not a good choice for novice gardeners. They drop their flowers easily from overfertilization or the slightest environmental stress. To grow them in a cold-winter climate, give them a head start indoors under fluorescent lights. Move them outdoors when both soil temperatures and air temperatures are consistently warm. Be aware that they may not mature by the end of the season. One option is to grow them in a container, which you can move to a warm indoor location under lights in fall.
Starting the seeds can be a challenge, too, as they take 36 days to germinate in consistently moist soil that’s kept between 80°F and 90°F. Improve their germination rate by soaking the seeds in a bleach solution prior to planting. Use three parts bleach to two parts water for no more than 20 minutes, or one part bleach to four parts water for 40 minutes. (Make sure your bleach consists of 5 percent sodium hypochlorite and contains neither sodium hydroxide nor fragrance.) Use a seed-starting mat to provide bottom heat, then move seedlings 2 or 3 inches below fluorescent light tubes once they’ve sprouted.