Sarah Wain’s Top Ten chilli varieties

"West Dean knows how to put on a good show and you can see things growing and learn so much about how to cultivate your own. The place is quietly becoming a national institution. You should see it." The Times

Sarah Wain, West Dean Gardens' chilli growing expert, grows around 250 varieties of chillies in the Victorian Glasshouses in the Kitchen Gardens. Here, Sarah shares her top ten chillies to grow for their special qualities...

  1. Aurora - ideal for growing in pots
  2. Dorset Naga - super hot and produces a good crop
  3. Fairy Lights - highly colourful fruit, grow in pots or in the ground
  4. Friars Hat - medium-hot
  5. Hungarian Hot Wax - quick producing, spicy, pale yellow to red fruit
  6. Mulato Isleno - mildly hot with deep, sweet flavour
  7. Pencil Cayenne - suitable for grow bags or pots, hot and good for Indian dishes
  8. Rooster Spur - short bushy plants, producing thousands of very small, very hot fruits
  9. Sparkler - remarkably hot, potential to yield masses of fruit
  10. Super Chilli - masses of slender, pointed, lime-green fruits which turn red, potency increases as they ripen

So there you have it. See Sarah's 250 varieties at the 20th Anniversary Chilli Fiesta and learn more about growing chillies at home. Sarah will be joined by experts Simpson Seeds (Friday), Hot Headz (Saturday) and Sea Spring Seeds (Sunday). They'll also be reminiscing about their first Chilli Fiesta in 1995!

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Gardens Supervisor Sarah Wain with Pencil Cayenne Chillies
Friar's Hat, a medium to hot chilli
The Glasshouses provide the best climate for growing the Pencil Cayenne Chillies
Fairy Lights