For an offbeat addition to your home decor, you can jazz things up with compact, ornamental pepper plants (Capsicum annuum). Green peppers slowly transform into vibrant colors, including yellow, orange, red and purple. Some plants boast peppers in a combination of brilliant hues during their various stages of ripening. Native to tropical regions of North and South America, pepper plants belong to the Solanaceae family and are grown as annuals.
1. Growing Peppers Indoors
Pepper plants are propagated by seed and experience little to no serious insect or disease problems. They prefer sunny sites and average to rich well-drained soil. Pepper houseplants will remain compact if you keep the soil a bit on the dry side. After the fruits fully ripen, you no longer need to fertilize. You can also purchase plants with a full head of colorful peppers, which will stay on these ornamentals for weeks indoors.
2. Chili Pepper Houseplants
Four- to 6-inch-high, mini-chili, or chile, pepper plants easily grow as houseplants, blooming continuously in 4-inch pots, and the very spicy fruit ripens into a multitude of colors. A good choice for homes with curious kids and pets is the "Chilly Chili" hybrid, because the peppers have a more mild taste than spicier varieties. The 2-inch-long fruit on this compact plant gradually turns from green to a shiny scarlet color.
3. Other Compact Cultivars
If you’re looking for a visually stunning table arrangement, “Medusa,” a variety of the common Christmas pepper plant, may be the answer. Bursting with a blend of dazzling colors, this ornamental houseplant maintains a short growth habit. The cone-shaped fruits are not pungent and grow to 3 inches long in a funky upright, twisted position that's pleasing to the eye. You'll appreciate the small size of “Gion Red” for an indoor plant. This cultivar displays bluish-green foliage and clusters of pyramid-shaped peppers that form at the top. The 1-inch-long yellow fruit changes to orange before turning a bright red.
4. Pepper Concerns
Moms and moms-to-be should always wear gloves when planting to avoid direct contact with soil that could be contaminated. Eating hot peppers can cause stinging or burning lips, tongue and throat as well as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Don't touch your face or, especially, eyes after handling either the hot peppers or the plant leaves. Minor skin irritation may occur, so wash your hands right away. Use care when selecting a location to display hot pepper plants in homes with children and pets.
- Cornell University: Growing Guide: Pepper, Ornamental
- University of California Extension: Christmas Peppers and Holiday Lights
- University of Arkansas Extension: Plant of the Week: Ornamental Pepper
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Capsicum Annuum
- New Mexico State University: Peppers Prepare To Take On Poinsettias
- Mississippi State University: Southern Gardening: Choose Peppers for Holiday Presents
- North Carolina State University: Commercial Floriculture: Medusa
- Monrovia: Chilly Chili Ornamental Chili
- North Carolina State University: Capsicum Annuum (Longum Group)
- North Carolina State University: Commercial Floriculture: Gion Red
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