Bright, seasonal ornamental peppers (Capsicum annuum) add warmth and zest to fall plantings. They are truly some of the best container plants of the season—with lots of new varieties being introduced each year to keep the palette fresh. Colorful peppers remain pretty for a long time and pair well with many other seasonal perennials and bedding plants. Try one of our four easy, seasonal container designs, or use elements to inspire your own creations.
Designing Containers with Ornamental Peppers
When creating container designs with these hot, pretty edibles (almost all ornamental peppers are spicy), choose plants with complementary textures (fine, bold, airy, or spiky), colors, and habits. Container designers rely on suites of plants with either vertical, mounding or bushy, and cascading habits married in complementary arrangements where plant heights contrast but flow.
When it comes to color, ornamental pepper colors are most often warm-hued, but those with purple fruits and foliage are cooler colored. For visual “pop” plant them in color groups that are either similar or contrasting but complementary (on the opposite end of the color wheel, such as purple and yellow, orange and blue, and red and green).
Sun-loving ornamental grasses, fall-flowering annuals, and fall-flowering perennials are all fair game when choosing plants to pair with your sun-loving peppers. Try choosing flowering plants that also feed pollinators. And, if you add a perennial or two to the container, it is always nice to have garden spots to move them to once the container has lost its seasonal luster.
Container Design 1
Designed for hot garden spots, this container combination is low-growing, drought-tolerant and looks super through fall! The very small pepper ‘Hot Purple Pops’ (to 7”), has a somewhat spreading habit and numerous rounded peppers that turn from purple to orange (fruits are very hot!). The hardy hens & chicks will survive the winter and can be either be left in the pot and paired with new annuals in spring or moved to a rock garden or dry border edge in late fall or spring.
Container Design 2
Bees and butterflies love this sunny combination, and you will too. The cheerful ‘Sedona Sun’ is a low, spreading pepper (to 12”) with spicy, conical fruits that turn from pale yellow to orange. Its soft, warm colors will light up any sunny porch or patio. The hardy perennial goldenrod can be relocated to a sunny garden spot in fall or spring.
Container Design 3
This warm and cool container planting is bold and texturally pleasing. The mound-forming pepper ‘Purple Flash’ (to 16”) has tricolored leaves of purple, dark green, and ivory that complement its round peppers that turn from purple-black to cherry red. (Keep the super spicy, berry-like peppers away from children!) The sedum and sedge are both sun-loving, hardy perennials.
Container Design 4
Cool-colored and a delight to bees due to the flowering Herrenhausen oregano, this pleasing container will look great up to frost. The pepper ‘Black Pearl’ (to 18”) has a bushy habit, purple-black foliage, and spicy, marble-sized peppers that turn from near black to deep red. The oregano is a hardy ornamental herb that spreads, so relocate it to a spacious sunny bed the following spring.
Containers and Planting
Choose containers that reflect the hues of the season. (I chose three large Terracotta pots and one large blue-black container that made me think of Halloween.) Before planting up pots, always fill them halfway with planting mix. Black Gold® Natural & Organic Mix, Black Gold® Waterhold Cocoblend Potting Mix, or Black Gold Moisture® Supreme Container Mix all work very well. Then arrange your plants as you would like to see them in the containers, remove them from their plastic pots (working up any bound roots), set them, and then fill in the gaps with more mix.
Water finished pots until the water flows from the bottom and fills the saucer. Keep container plantings moist; daily watering is often needed. After a couple of days, feed your plantings with water-soluble Proven Winners® Premium Soluble Plant Food for Flowering Plants. This helps flowering plants perform to their fullest and shine up until frost!