AAS Winners are Great Ornamental Peppers for Your Home Garden

Capsicum annuum ‘Onyx Red.’ Photo by All-America Selections

All-America Selections has been trialing edible and ornamental plants for over 90 years, presenting awards to entries that will impress home gardeners with their performance regionally or nationally. There have been plenty of exciting new winners that merit a place in your garden that will be highlighted in this series. 

Capsicum annuum ‘NuMex Easter.' Photo by All-American Selections

AAS Winners are grown and planted at nearly 200 Display Gardens all over the US and Canada, including nine gardens in Iowa. To see these winners and more, check out www.all-americaselections.org and search under the Display Gardens tab. For a sneak peek at potential future winners, plan a visit to Reiman Gardens, an All-America Selections Trial Garden.

With temperatures starting to drop and my allergies acting up, fall is literally in the air! Sure, mums are a great option to freshen your beds and planters as we head into cooler nights and hours of football, but ornamental peppers pack a lot of punch and hold up well against early, light frosts. As with all peppers, these fruits are edible but they are typically quite hot, so plant these for looks!

Capsicum annuum ‘Onyx Red’: This ornamental pepper has dark, dramatic foliage just in time for spooky season. Shiny red fruit goes well with any other colors you choose (especially gold!) and the vigor of this plant is not to be underestimated while staying well-branched and compact. We always have tons of questions about ‘Onyx Red’; visitors are always surprised to learn that this showy ornamental is a pepper. 

Capsicum annuum ‘Chilly Chili.' Photo by All-America Selections

Capsicum annuum ‘NuMex Easter’: ‘NuMex Easter’ stays a cute 5-6”, perfect for tucking into containers or placing indoors for centerpieces. Fruit color ranges from pastel purple to orange, showing a variety of shades in between as they ripen. The Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University bred this Winner; they have been studying and breeding peppers for over 30 years, so they know their peppers!

Capsicum annuum ‘Chilly Chili’: A Winner in 2002, ‘Chilly Chili’ is considered an oldie, but it’s definitely a goodie! Perfect color combination for football fans, this ornamental pepper tops out at 12”, and the 2” fruits are held upright above the foliage. The fruits are non-pungent, which means this is the ideal plant to grow around curious young gardeners. 

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