How to Take Care of an Ornamental Pepper Plant

Multicolored Ornamental Pepper image by Jim, the Photographer: flickr.com

Overview

Ornamental pepper plants are dwarf pepper plants with more colorful fruits and foliage than the standard hot pepper varieties. They are ideal as houseplants because of their small size and easy growth habits. Although you could grow these plants indoors at any time of year, they are particularly popular as a way to bring some color inside during the winter. This is reflected in the names of ornamental pepper varieties such as "Holiday Lights" and "Poinsettia Pepper." However, there are also varieties such as "Black Pearl" and "White Fire" available. Check nurseries and seed catalogs to find the latest selections.

Step 1

Fertilize when planting. You can also fertilize lightly with a low-nitrogen fertilizer (marked with 5-10-10 or similar ratio) once a month, but this is not necessary after the pepper fruits start to form.

Step 2

Keep inside once temperatures fall below 55 degrees F. Ornamental pepper plants will remain small enough to make good indoor plants.

Step 3

Place in a sunny window or provide supplemental lighting. This will help the plant to produce more blooms and thus more peppers.

Step 4

Choose a location that is high enough to be out of the reach of pets and small children. Ornamental peppers are very spicy and their oils can cause eye irritation.

Step 5

Water your ornamental pepper plant daily, but make sure that the soil is not oversaturated. Make sure that your pepper pot has good drainage.

Step 6

Pinch new growth to keep your plant compact and encourage new growth. Ornamental pepper plants are naturally small, but this will help to keep them at their best.

Step 7

Pick fruits for decoration or allow to dry on the plant. Do not eat as ornamental pepper plants may have been treated with pesticides or fungicides not intended for human consumption.

Tips and Warnings

  • According to the ASPCA, ornamental pepper plants are toxic to cats, dogs and horses. This is in addition to the irritation that may be caused by the spiciness of the peppers themselves.

Things You'll Need

  • Ornamental pepper plant
  • Watering can
  • Low-nitrogen fertilizer

References

  • University of Arkansas: Plant of the Week, Ornamental Pepper
  • Desert Tropicals: Pepper, Ornamental Pepper
  • UC Davis: Christmas Peppers and Holiday Lights

Who Can Help

  • NC State: Ornamental Pepper Cultival Trial
  • ASPCA: Ornamental Pepper
Keywords: ornamental peppers, christmas peppers, pepper plant

About this Author

Jenn Mercer is a Writer, Poet, and Translator (French > English) living in Raleigh, NC. She has Bachelors degrees in both English (Creative Writing) and French from NC State University. Mercer has been published in the Grapevine, Astropoetica, Talkin Blues, Nth Degree, the CATI Quarterly, The Fix, and Uncle John's Bathroom Reader for Kids.

Photo by: Jim, the Photographer: flickr.com