Ornamental Peppers for the Holidays (!)

Growers and garden centers are always on the lookout for Poinsettia alternatives.  Points make up the vast majority of potted flowering plants sold this time of year, but other crops are gaining ground. Due in part to the popularity of All-American Selection (AAS) winner ‘Black Pearl,’ there’s been an explosion of ornamental pepper varieties.   Most are pretty versatile – can be used as bedding plant, in containers, and as a potted flowering plant.  Edible? Depends on your threshold for pain.

I took these photos during an August visit to the immense trial gardens of Rakers (Litchfield MI).  They had at least 30 varieties of ornamental pepper, and many look very similar.  Hopefully I’ve got these labeled correctly…


‘NuMex Twilight’, bred by the folks at the Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State, has been around for a while. There were lots of look-alike cultivars in the trial.  But they all resemble Christmas lights!



 ‘Sangria’ peppers start purple then ripen bright red. 

I believe this one is ‘Pretty in Purple.’ 

I think any of these would be very gift-able for the holidays. Dressed up with a nice 5" clay pot and a raffia bow…would you buy an ornamental pepper for decor or a gift?

5 thoughts on “Ornamental Peppers for the Holidays (!)”

  1. I’ve had the same thought regarding some of those super dwarf compact tomato varieties, like MicroTom.  Got that Red and Green Holiday color scheme down, too.  More pictures here, and here.  If I only had a Greenhouse …

  2. I use cyclamen as a pointsettia alternative, but the peppers have the advantage of not going dormant in a warm house as cyclamen will.

  3. One of the most beautiful vegetables I’ve ever grown was a Cascabella pepper and the new ornamentals are spectacular. I plan to grow ornamental peppers in a flower border next summer and wait to see who comments on them. Just be sure the kiddies don’t get to the
    m. (I don’t do houseplants since my cat eats anything living and most anything that even looks like it’s living! He sometimes produces interesting poop.)

  4. These are very common gift items over here in Sweden. ALL of those varieties are in most of the garden centers and giant grocery stores. But Swedes only use them for decorative purposes.

  5. Kevin – that’s so interesting! Attended a Floriculture trade show a few years ago in Germany and was boggled by the amazing variety of potted gift plants.

    I probably should have put more emphasis on the fact that these little guys run about one bazillion Scoville units of heat…

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