Peppers are among the most incredible plants to grow in a home garden. They offer amazing variety in flavor, heat level, and plant characteristics. In this article, we’ll share some of the most beautiful ornamental pepper varieties that you can grow yourself.
Ornamental peppers are typically smaller plants with some form of unique or beautiful visual characteristic. They are typically grown for garden appeal rather than for the edible fruits (though they are all okay to eat).
Some ornamental pepper plants have purple or black foliage, while others have variegated leaves and colorful fruits. If you have an extra spot for some edible landscaping, these plants will do the trick. Plus, they’ll produce useful fruits if you want to spice up your cooking!
1. Fish Peppers
The fish pepper has an amazing backstory, and was almost lost to lack of cultivation. However, the plant variety was saved and lives on today, with seeds readily available for gardeners. Get seeds here at Bohica Pepper Hut or Rare Seeds.
The fish pepper is basically the epitome of the ornamental pepper. The plants are small in size, around 2 feet tall when mature. They also have variegated leaves, with gorgeous greens and whites speckling the foliage.
Not only that, but the peppers themselves become variegated too! The fruits ripen from a striped green and white coloration, through oranges, browns and reds, finally to a purely deep red color.
This firework display of color is exciting to watch unfold in the garden, and could work wonders for an ornamental garden or a botanical display.
In terms of flavor, the fish pepper isn’t anything special, though it does have a good amount of heat and a touch of sweetness. However, they can be dried and ground into a powder that could easily replace your cayenne powder in the kitchen.
Overall, the fish pepper is undoubtedly one of our favorite plants to watch grow in our pepper gardens. It is extremely prolific and beautiful, from seedling to harvest. If you’re looking for something unique and easy to grow, look no further!
2. Black Pearl Peppers
Variegated leaves are special, but what about jet black foliage? Nothing stands out against a blanket of greenery like a dark-colored pepper plant! Get black pearl seeds here.
The black pearl pepper plant is rich in anthocyanins, a group of compounds that are known as the “purple pigments.” It is found in abundance in many foods, including blueberries, eggplants, and many types of tomatoes and peppers.
The result is dark purple foliage and very dark fruits. The peppers ripen from a rich, almost black color through to a deep red when fully ripe. The berry-like fruits are edible, and actually have a surprising amount of sweetness. They are also quite spicy!
The black pearl plant doesn’t grow too large, around 1.5-2 feet tall when mature, which is perfect for an ornamental plant. The fruits also produce in clusters, making for a breathtaking look when the plants are in full fruiting mode!
The flowers are a bright purple color that looks incredible against the dark foliage. This plant would work beautifully alongside a flower garden, offering great dark hues to offset the bright colors of your blooms. It’s no wonder this ornamental pepper won the AAS award!
3. Candy Cane Sweet Pepper
Most ornamental peppers grow small, spicy fruits that many gardeners will simply let go to waste. However, with the candy cane pepper, you can enjoy the sweet, non-spicy fruits! Get candy cane pepper seeds at Botanical Interests or Bohica Pepper Hut.
While the foliage is not as dazzling as some of the other options in this article, the candy cane has the added benefit of growing useful food. While the variegation is not as pronounced as the fish pepper, there are still streaks of white in the green leaves.
This plant has use in both the ornamental sun garden and the kitchen garden. So if you are used to growing bell peppers and other sweet varieties, maybe give the candy cane a shot instead!
4. Fluorescent Purple
One of the most stunning ornamental peppers I have seen to date is the ‘fluorescent purple’ variety. While finding seeds seems to be a challenge, if you can find them the payoff is worth it.
These plants produce bright purple stems, leaves, flowers, and peppers on dense, bushy plants. The small fruits are between 1-2 cm and are quite spicy, making them useful for spicy cooking.
The only drawback to consider is that these plants are not as uniform and shapely as, say, the ‘black pearl’ variety. If you are okay with a somewhat mangey-looking plant, then the fluorescent purple may be the right ornamental choice for you.
5. Jigsaw Peppers
The jigsaw pepper combines the appeal of fish peppers and the black pearl to mind-blowing effect. The leaves are variegated, but they often have splashes of purple too. Get seeds here.
The fruits of the jigsaw pepper plant have stripes, and they also go through a variety of colors. The flowers are a deep purple, and the fruits ripen from a dark purple, through reds and browns, and finally to dark red.
I’m not sure there is much more you could ask for in an ornamental pepper plant. Perhaps a more desirable flavor, as once again the jigsaw is nothing to write home about for taste. However, we were able to use them in spicy stir fry and hot sauces.
6. Medusa Pepper
This ornamental pepper is very prolific and made a beautiful addition to our landscaping last season. This is a dwarf variety that typically only reaches 8-10 inches tall. Our plants were covered in beautiful, colorful peppers that grow upright with unique appeal.
Named after Medusas serpent-like hair, this is a truly special variety to grow in the garden. The plants are compact, decorative, and would also do well in containers. We got our seeds from Seeds N Such.
There are many other ornamental peppers out there, but these are a few of our favorites that we have grown so far. As we discover and grow more, we’ll update this article to include anything worth checking out.
Let us know your favorite pepper plants, ornamental or otherwise, in the comments below!