Ornamental Pepper

Ornamental Pepper
Plant Type
Sunlight Amount
Capsicum Calico pepper
Credit: Scott Little
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Capsicum Calico pepper

Ornamental Pepper

To get a double show in your garden featuring both flowers and then colorful, berrylike, long-lasting fruits, go for an ornamental pepper. Unlike the bigger, veggie garden varieties, ornamental peppers have been bred to for their looks rather than flavor, even though they are edible. With a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, ornamental peppers can add season-long interest to the garden.

genus name
  • Capsicum
light
  • Sun
plant type
height
  • 6 to 12 inches
  • 1 to 3 feet
width
  • 6 to 12 inches
flower color
foliage color
season features
problem solvers
special features
propagation

Colorful Combinations

From little black pearls to larger cone-shaped fruits that resemble Christmas lights, the showy little fruits of ornamental peppers make stunning garden displays and are available in a rainbow of colors. They also make great additions to mixed containers and don't mind hot weather in summer.

New varieties feature novel fruit shapes and colors, and even foliage colors. Keep an eye out for varieties that may also have better habits and longer bloom times.

Ornamental Peppers Care Must-Knows

Growing ornamental peppers is as easy as growing garden vegetable peppers. They need full sun to thrive, and anything less will result in leggy plants with fewer fruits. These annuals prefer to be planted in well-drained soil. Make sure that your ornamental pepper plants don't stay too wet or they may rot in constantly moist soil. Drastic fluctuations of wet and dry can stress pepper plants and cause them to lose leaves as well as drop flower buds and young fruits. They also appreciate a slow-release fertilizer or regular liquid feed to fuel their rapid growth and fruit production.

Many varieties will benefit from an early pinching to encourage good branching at the base. (Some of the very dwarf varieties don't need this pinch, and it can actually cause the plants to have an odd habit if they are pinched, so be sure to know your particular variety's needs.) Some determinate varieties will bloom and set fruit all at once. Many of these will not bloom again after their initial fruit set, so you can treat them as a disposable plant. Others are indeterminate, and will bloom and fruit continuously until frost. With continuous bloomers, make sure to remove ripe peppers. This encourages the plant to keep setting new flowers and fruits.

More Varieties of Ornamental Pepper

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Black Pearl pepper
Credit: Dean Schoeppner

'Black Pearl' Pepper

This Capsicum variety, an award-winning variety, features iridescent purple-black 3/4-inch diameter fruits that turn scarlet-red at maturity. Compact plants with purple foliage are good for containers or in beds and borders. It grows 18 inches tall and wide.

Capsicum New Calico
Credit: Justin Hancock

'Calico' Pepper

Capsicum 'Calico' bears attractive purple-and-white variegated foliage with purple fruits. It grows 1 foot tall and 16 inches wide.

Chilly Chilli pepper
Credit: Marty Baldwin

'Chilly Chilli' Pepper

This selection of Capsicum bears nonpungent ivory fruits that mature to bright red. It grows 10 inches tall and 14 inches wide.

Pretty in Purple Pepper
Credit: Dean Schoeppner

'Pretty in Purple' Pepper

Capsicum 'Pretty in Purple' offers attractive purple fruits, stems, and leaves. It's a great ornamental as well as edible hot pepper. Fruits turn red at maturity.

NuMex Twilight Pepper
Credit: Roy Inman

'NuMex Twilight' Pepper

This cultivar of Capsicum bears cone-shape purple fruits that mature to bright red.

Ornamental pepper medusa
Credit: Peter Krumhardt

'Medusa' Pepper

Capsicum annuum 'Medusa' hold mild fruits, a great option if you garden around children. Fruits fade from yellow to orange and eventually red for a multicolor effect. Annual.

Purple Flash Pepper
Credit: Justin Hancock

'Purple Flash' Pepper

This variety of Capsicum bears new leaves in colorful shades of purple and white that mature to rich dark purple. It also has purple flowers and round black fruits. It grows 15 inches tall and 2 feet wide.

Capsicum New Sangria
Credit: Justin Hancock

'Sangria' Pepper

Capsicum 'Sangria' bears green foliage and bright purple fruits that mature to shades of oranges and red. It's always producing new fruits, so it's continually showing a range of colors. The fruits are nonpungent. It grows 1 foot tall and 18 inches wide.

Ornamental Pepper Companion Plants

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Credit: Scott Little

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