There is an English proverb, “If at first you don’t succeed, try try try again”. Never, it feels like, has it been more true that with the Trinidad perfume chilli. I first read about it in James Wongs RHS Grow for Flavour and wanted to give it a go. I love Habanero chillies, probably the finest flavour of all chillies but they are hot. Trinidad perfume is a hab type but with no heat.
However, try as I might, I struggled to grow it. The first year no seeds germinated, even with heat and the 12 weeks that hab type chillies can sometimes take to germinate. The second year one germinated but turned its feet up after a few weeks. The third year I got some plants growing successfully and put them in the polytunnel. I got one chilli! This year however I grew them in the conservatory, one of the joys of lockdown meaning I’m working from home and could keep my south facing conservatory well ventilated, and bingo. Hundreds of happy little yellow Trinidad perfumes. Four years to achieve success, lessons learnt and was it worth the wait………………
Yes! These are really nice. The flavour is reminiscent of a habanero, quite fruity, with a hint of lemony apricot. There is only the tiniest hint of heat, they are much closer to a pepper than a chilli in that respect. They are quite unexpectedly sweet, a really interesting chilli and well worth giving a go.
In the kitchen
This is a mild chilli with not much more heat than your average pepper. I’ve tried it Tapas Padron Peppers style fried with some salt and also with Chilli Paneer. It would make a nice mild chilli sauce and could be used anywhere you would use peppers or chilies as long as you don’t like your food spicy.
Yield and Plant Health
If you can get this chilli up and running and give it a nice warm sunny spot then you will be rewarded with 30+ chillies per plant if not more, later in the season when some of my other favourites like Padron have had their first big flush and are starting to go over. Like most hab types the plant is robust and doesn’t need much support. If you can bring the plant indoors you will get chillies in to December.
As the chilli has become more popular germination rates and times seem to have improved, maybe because it is more commercially grown. It will need plenty of bottom heat and an LED grow lamp would help will help as you will have to start the seeds in January to get a decent harvest. Keep the plants fairly dry especially in the beginning as they can damp off quite easily. Pinch out to encourage bushiness. Grow in a warm sunny spot, preferably in a greenhouse or a conservatory. The chilli will get to about 50cm in its first year so is a bit big for a window ledge but is quite robust so doesn’t need much support, pinching out the growing tip will keep it more compact.
You can overwinter habanero type chillies inside for earlier fruiting the next year. Yields will be lower than in the first year but much earlier.
Chillies and peppers need a heated propagator to get going, with a steady heat of 27-30 degrees for a minimum of two weeks, but occasionally up to twelve for super hots to germinate.
In Jan/Feb, make a mix of 2/3 seed compost to 1/3 perlite. Sow a few seeds in to a three inch pot and cover with 5 mm of either the seed mix or vermiculite. Label and place in the propagator. Water sparingly (misting the surface can be ideal) until germinated.
Once germinated and you can see the first set of true leaves, gently pot on in to three inch pots in a good free draining compost and keep in a sunny spot, with a minimum temperature of 12 degrees C. If you are able to grow under LED grow lights then your plants will be stockier and more robust. Blowing on them them gently everyday will also encourage that, stimulating wind.
Water sparingly until they are 3-6 inches high when you can pot on in to 9 inch pots or, if passed the risk of frost, plant in greenhouse soil or in a sunny, sheltered position outside. Feed and water once a week.
Chillies can take varying times to start flowering. Padron peppers are very early, habanero can take 100 days. If you are growing inside you will need to fertilise the flowers yourself with a small brush. If growing in a greenhouse or conservatory ventilate well on hot days as temperatures over 36 degrees can lead to flowers dropping off.