The last few years, breeders have introduced a whole new world of exciting and intriguing ornamental peppers to their line ups. These annual plants help extend color in your garden throughout the fall. They are available in different sizes and shapes in bright colors like orange, purple, red, and yellow. Two great things about ornamental peppers are they are easy to grow and care for and they will have fruit on them from spring to fall. In gardening zones, 9 – 11 ornamental peppers are considered perennials.
The leaves on the plants are often bright green but other varieties have dark foliage including Black Pearl, which is the first ornamental pepper with black leaves. You will find that the peppers will stand up in clusters on the plants. Try planting them in containers on your patio or deck or use them in your garden beds. They can also be grown or moved indoors.
While ornamental peppers are edible they are grown for their colorful fruit, they are not known for their flavor. Most of the peppers on these plants are hot, but there are some varieties that are medium heat. These peppers are non-toxic to animals. Animals tend to leave them alone because they are highly spiced. Peppers bred for culinary use produce better fruit for eating.
Ornamental peppers need to be planted in full sun in order to produce the fruit. They really like the heat. Warmer temperatures will even help stimulate plant growth. If you grow them indoors you are going to need a bright sunny location or an artificial light. Plant them in rich well-drained soil. Water the plants when the soil appears dry. These plants are not drought tolerant but they also do not like to be overwatered. Poorly drained soil can lead to leaf diseases and root rot.
Ornamental Peppers are moderate feeders. Start to fertilize when the fruit starts to appear, you can either use a slow-release fertilizer or fertilize again in 6 weeks.
If you plan on growing them in containers, a 6-inch container is the smallest size to use. In a smaller container, the plant will dry out too fast. It is ideal to put several plants in a larger container or mixing plants if you are growing them outdoors. If you are growing your plant indoors, smaller containers will work.
Favorite Varieties of Ornamental Pepper
Black Pearl – This pepper is the first black-leafed ornamental pepper. When young the foliage is green and then turns black when it matures. The fruit is a shiny black that matures to dark red. The fruit is hot.
Chilly Chili - The fruit on this plant starts out greenish-yellow and gradually turn orange to dark red. 'Chilly Chili' grows 9 to 10 inches tall. The fruit on this plant is not as hot, so it makes a good one if you have children around.
Hot Pops Purple - Pump up your garden with this unusual fruit which comes in multi-colors! The plant has small, round peppers that can have a high impact on your outdoor and indoor decor. The fruit on this plant is very hot but there is a Hot Pops Yellow plant too and the fruit is medium hot.
Sedona Sun – This plant has masses of distinct lemon yellow and carrot orange upright peppers. This plant will definitely add some cheer to your garden. The fruit on this plant is hot.
Wicked - This pepper plant has bushy, glossy green leaves and colorful fruit that grows in upright clusters at the end of the stems. The extra-large fruit on this plant starts purple and matures to red.
Why not try heating up your garden with one of these plants this fall!