Ornamental Pepper Plant

Botanical Name: Capsicum annuum

Grown for its brightly colored fruit, ornamental pepper plant is not particularly attractive until it becomes loaded with ripening peppers in fall and winter. Another common name for this plant is Christmas Pepper.

ornamental pepper, ornamental chili pepper, capsicum annuum

C. annuum puts on a spectacular display when covered with a bounty of colorful peppers. However, it's a one-time production. You can expect ornamental peppers to produce fruit for up to 6 weeks. It will not bear fruit again and is usually treated as a temporary house plant and discarded when it is no longer attractive.

White, star-shaped flowers grow in the leaf axils in summer and early fall, followed by the real star of the show -- colorful peppers.

ornamental chili pepper, christmas pepper, capsicum annuum

They may be cone-shaped or round, depending on the variety. But, the peppers all change colors as they mature -- from green to yellow to orange to red. Some varieties have purple fruit that is almost black.

'Black Pearl', shown at left, is a popular cultivar with unusual dark foliage, making this a striking ornamental.

Pinch your plant. Pinch new growth to encourage the stems to branch out and become bushy.

Some like it hot. Keep this tropical native warm. Ornamental chili pepper is tender and should not be exposed to temperatures below 55°F/13°C.

CAUTION: The peppers are edible, but most are fiery hot. The juice from them can cause painful burning of the eyes and mouth. Keep plants away from small children and wash your hands thoroughly after handling the peppers.

Ornamental Pepper Plant Care

ornamental chili pepper, christmas pepper, capsicum annuum

Origin: South America

Height: To 1 ft (30 cm)

Light: Bright light, including at least 4 hours a day of direct sun.

Water: Keep soil evenly moist. Leaves will drop if soil is too wet or too dry. Water thoroughly and discard drainage.

Humidity: Average to moderate humidity. Mist foliage occasionally if needed.

Temperature: Cool at night, 55-60°F/13-16°C; warm during the day 70-75°F/21-24°C

Soil: Any good potting mix

Fertilizer: Feed monthly. This tomato plant food works great for your peppers, too.

Propagation: Seed. Sow seeds in spring.

Green Thumb Tip

Keep your ornamental pepper plant away from drafts and heat vents. Hot, dry air will cause the leaves to shrivel and turn brown. Dry conditions also attract spider mites.

Mist the foliage with tepid water to raise the humidity around it.

Buying Tip

These are often sold as holiday plants. Choose whatever tickles your fancy... there are many good varieties to choose from.

'Holiday Cheer' features small, round peppers that change from yellow to purple to red.

'Fireball' is compact with round peppers that go from cream to orange to red as they mature.

'Black Pearl' has round, dark-purple peppers that turn almost black...with dark foliage.

capsicum annuum