Ornamental Peppers are known as Christmas Peppers. They are available as compact, winter indoor potted plants or mixed arrangements. I have seen them in outdoor winter arrangements, but I doubt that these South American plants would survive the worst of our icy weather. They are available in a wonderful range of bright colours. There is even a range of cultivars called the Christmas Lights Series. Ornamental Peppers are specifically grown for their brightly coloured fruits, as opposed to their flowers. As the fruit develops, its colour changes, so you have the added advantage of different coloured fruits on the same plant.
Three Ornamental Types
Ornamental Peppers are perennial plants that are often treated as annuals in the Solanaceae or Nightshade family. Peppers, Capsicum annuum, are better known as a food crop. There are 3 main groups of cultivars grown as potted ornamentals:
- the Cerasiforme group of Cherry Peppers with small, rounded, nodding fruit.
- the Conioides group of Cone Peppers with erect, cone-shaped fruits in various colours. This group is the most commonly seen in cultivation.
- the Fasciculatum group of Red Cone Peppers with clusters of erect, slender fruits.
Origin and European Arrival
In their native tropical habitat in Central and South America, Peppers were prized for their culinary and medicinal properties. Christopher Columbus introduced them to Europe in the 15th century. Interestingly, Europeans valued them then more as ornamental plants than as a food source.
© Karen Andrews
References and Further Reading
- Carroll, Jackie (2021): Ornamental Pepper Care: How to Grow Ornamental Pepper Plants. Gardeningknowhow.com. 21 June 2021.
- Maree, Johannes & van Wyk, Ben-Erik (2010): Cut Flowers of the World. Briza Publications, South Africa.
- Stommel, John R. & Kozlov, Mikhail & Griesbach, Robert J. (2018): Ornamental Pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) Cultivars Comprising the Christmas Lights Cultivar Series. HortScience. Volume 53, Issue 3. March 2018. American Society for Horticultural Science.
Karen does not seek or receive any commercial interest or advantage from this blog. She is not promoting any business venture. She simply loves to share fascinating facts about plants. These pages illustrate her love of plants, botany, biodiversity, gardens and creative expression. There is always so much to learn about plant diversity. This blog is designed as a showcase for photography, commentary on plants and wildlife, gardens and other places visited, horticulture and related topics. Viewpoints are her own, not those of her employer.