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Publication #FPS105

Capsicum annuum Ornamental Pepper1

Edward F. Gilman and Teresa Howe2


Ornamental peppers reach 10 to 20 inches in height and are grown as annuals or pot plants, producing colorful fruits from May until frost (Fig. 1). In warmer climates, ornamental peppers are perennial and actually one of the best bedding plants for hot weather conditions, performing beautifully as a ground cover in mixed flower borders, as an edging, or in containers. Even though they can be perennial in USDA hardiness zones 9b, 10 and 11, plants are usually changed out at the end of the season. Fruits are available in a wide range of colors, from red, purple, yellow, orange, or white. Several colors are often seen at the same time on plants as the fruits ripen and change color. While the peppers are said to be edible, most palates will find them much too hot.

Figure 1. 

Ornamental pepper.

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

General Information

Scientific name: Capsicum annuum
Pronunciation: KAP-sick-um AN-yoo-um
Common name(s): ornamental pepper, bush red pepper
Family: Solanaceae
Plant type: annual
USDA hardiness zones: all zones (Fig. 2)
Planting month for zone 7: Jun; Jul
Planting month for zone 8: May; Jun
Planting month for zone 9: Mar; Apr; May; Sep; Oct
Planting month for zone 10 and 11: Feb; Mar; Apr; May; Oct; Nov; Dec
Origin: not native to North America
Uses: container or above-ground planter; mass planting; border
Availability: generally available in many areas within its hardiness range

Figure 2. 

Shaded area represents potential planting range.

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]


Height: 1 to 1.5 feet
Spread: 1 to 1.5 feet
Plant habit: round
Plant density: dense
Growth rate: moderate
Texture: medium


Leaf arrangement: alternate
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: entire
Leaf shape: ovate
Leaf venation: bowed
Leaf type and persistence: not applicable
Leaf blade length: 2 to 4 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: not applicable
Fall characteristic: not applicable


Flower color: white
Flower characteristic: inconspicuous and not showy


Fruit shape: elongated
Fruit length: 3 to 6 inches
Fruit cover: fleshy
Fruit color: orange; white; yellow
Fruit characteristic: persists on the plant

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: not applicable
Current year stem/twig color: green
Current year stem/twig thickness: thick


Light requirement: plant grows in full sun
Soil tolerances: clay; sand; acidic; loam
Soil salt tolerances: unknown
Plant spacing: 6 to 12 inches


Roots: not applicable
Winter interest: not applicable
Outstanding plant: not particularly outstanding
Invasive potential: not known to be invasive
Pest resistance: long-term health usually not affected by pests

Use and Management

Ornamental peppers will grow quite easily in full sun or partial shade and do best in a fairly rich and evenly moist growing medium. They can be planted on 12 to 18 inch centers to form a solid mass of colorful fruits.

Propagation is by seed, which should not be covered with soil.

There are many cultivars for fruit size and color.

Pests and Diseases

No pests or diseases are of major concern except for occasional leaf-chewing insects.



This document is FPS105, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at


Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, Teresa Howe, coordinator, Research Programs/Services, Gulf Coast REC, Bradenton, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.