Capsicum Annuum

Ornamental Pepper Plant

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 it's main attraction is the fruit which appears after flowering, that we all know so well when using our culinary skills within the kitchen.

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We have all seen in grocery stores, eaten or cooked a variety of this plants fruit known as capsicum, sweet peppers, cayenne peppers, and chilli 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 they fruit during the summer so the common name Christmas is not always used, which makes sense.

Cultivars: There's 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 it's 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 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 more 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.


Origin: South America.
Names: Christmas and ornamental pepper plant (common). -- Capiscum annuum (botanical/scientific).
Max Growth (approx): 1½ ft tall.
Poisonous for pets: Toxic to cats and dogs.

Close up picture of plant

Ornamental pepper plant

Ornamental Pepper Care

Temperature: 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.
Light: A lover of bright light and some sunshine (2 -3 hrs), close to an east or west facing window.
Watering: The capsicum likes it's soil to be moist at all times. A thorough watering is required but remove excess water from the bottom of the plant tray after.
Soil: A potting soil mix which drains well and can retain some water is ideal.
Re-Potting: Repot every 2 years or when the current pot is too small for your plant.
Fertilizer: Feed every two weeks with a diluted liquid fertilizer while the plant is flowering and fruiting.
Humidity: Average room humidity is fine, but avoid too much dry air.
Propagation: Seeds are usually sown during spring, then plants should have grown enough to be potted after approximatively 8 weeks.

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