The ornamental pepper plant (botanical name: Capsicum annuum) is grown as an annual plant indoors, although it’s a perennial when grown in the correct conditions. Also known as the Christmas pepper plant.
While this species does produce small white flowers its main attraction is the fruit that appears after flowering, which we all know so well when using our culinary skills within the kitchen.
We have all seen in grocery stores, eating or cooking a variety of this plant’s fruit known as capsicum, sweet peppers, cayenne peppers, and chili peppers, which this species has been bred from for ornamental purposes.
The common name of Christmas pepper was given to the plant because many are sold during December and the red colorful fruits provide a festive appearance. Outdoors fruit during the summer so the common name Christmas is not always used, which makes sense.
Cultivars: There are a number of cultivars to choose from within this species, with the most common being the plant with peppers that turn from green to yellow and then red. Other fruit colors are also available, like the Bolivian rainbow which produces a variety of colors, or the variegated flash with its purple fruits.
Gift and garden plant: Ornamental pepper plants are sold mainly as flowering gift plants which are grown for the fruit and thrown away once the plant loses the fruit and the foliage becomes unattractive. They are also grown in gardens during summer and look attractive and placed around borders or in containers, although they will not survive the winter frost in temperate regions.
Edible: The fruit is edible but it’s extremely hot and can lack sweetness, depending on the variety grown. If you use them for cooking, do protect your hands or keep them well away from any other skin area – until they have been washed thoroughly. Flowers and foliage: During summer small white-colored blooms appear which don’t attract anywhere near the same attention the fruit gets. Lots of oval-shaped leaves grow up to about 4 inches long creating a bushy appearance. Pinching the top of the plant stems (just above a branching point) will encourage the plant to branch out and become bushy and full-looking.
Level of care: The level of care needed to grow the pepper plant is moderately easy and just needs the basics, such as moist soil, plenty of light, and moderate to cool temperatures.
|Christmas and ornamental pepper plant (common). — Capiscum annuum (botanical/scientific).
|Max Growth (approx):
|1½ ft tall.
|Poisonous for pets:
|Toxic to cats and dogs.
Ornamental Pepper Care
|Cool temperatures from 55°F/13°C – 65°F/18°C are ideal during the night and 70°F/21°C – 80°F/26°C, during the day. Avoid lower than 55°F/13°C.
|A lover of bright light and some sunshine (2 -3 hrs), close to an east or west-facing window.
|The capsicum likes its soil to be moist at all times. A thorough watering is required but remove excess water from the bottom of the plant tray after.
|A potting soil mix that drains well and can retain some water is ideal.
|Repot every 2 years or when the current pot is too small for your plant.
|Feed every two weeks with a diluted liquid fertilizer while the plant is flowering and fruiting.
|Average room humidity is fine but avoids too much dry air.
|Seeds are usually sown during spring, then plants should have grown enough to be potted after approximately 8 weeks.
Elyssa Goins is an experienced house plant hobbyist who maintains over a hundred plants. She is a gardener, beekeeper, and a proud mother of four. She is a member of the American Horticultural Society, has a published study in the National Social Science Association, and loves to talk about her love of plants. For the past twenty years, she’s been all about growing and caring for various fruits, veggies, herbs, livestock, kids, and houseplants. Managing a big garden to feed four growing kids and raising dairy goats has taught her so much about being an excellent plant parent and now is her time to share with you.