5 color chinese pepper

Learn About Chinese Five Color Peppers

I like a plant that is multi-talented and Chinese 5-color pepper plants fits the bill. Rather like an entertainer who is a “triple threat,” Chinese 5-color pepper plants are not only gorgeous but produce brilliantly colored, edible fruit. These heirloom hot peppers are fairly easy to grow and under the right conditions produce enough peppers to spice up a year’s worth of dishes. Read on to find out more about Chinese five color peppers.

Chinese 5-Color Pepper History

Chinese 5-color pepper history begins in, you guessed it, China. These screamingly hot little peppers are members of the Solanaceae family. They are considered to be heirloom hot peppers and hot they definitely are!

Like all peppers, Chinese 5-color pepper plants are warm season annuals. They can be grown outdoors in warmer climates or potted and grown outside during warm months and then brought inside when temps chill. In fact, this ornamental pepper is often for sale around the winter holidays, sold as an ornamental plant.

More Info about Chinese Five Color Peppers

Chinese 5-color peppers are cone peppers. The plants are upright, branched with rigid, delicate stems and thin green leaves with lovely purple stems and veins. The flowers are insignificant but the resulting fruit more than makes up for that. Fruit is conical in shape, and starts out purple but as it matures runs the rainbow gamut from cream, yellow, orange and finally red when ripe. The peppers do not ripen all at once, so the resulting plant becomes a kaleidoscope of the five colors, continually evolving as the peppers mature.

Chinese 5-color peppers are heat loving plants hardy to USDA zones 5-12. If you live in the cooler end of the spectrum, be sure to wait until the soil is warm and nighttime temps are well above freezing (above 50 degrees F. or 10 C.) before moving it outside.

Chinese 5-color can be planted from seed or purchased already growing. If you buy a Chinese 5-color from a store that is selling them as ornamentals, be aware that the plant may have been treated with chemicals or pesticides, so don’t eat the peppers!

As with other types of ornamental peppers, Chinese 5-color will only grow about a foot high and a foot across, making it perfectly suited for container growing. Also, growing this heirloom hot pepper in a pot makes it easy to move indoors or into shade depending upon the temperature.

Choose a full sun area to plant your Chinese 5-color. Use a well-draining potting soil or loamy and sandy soil with a pH of 7.0-8.5 if you are planting directly into the garden. Keep the plant consistently watered, especially if the plant is container grown.

The multihued peppers will be ready when they turn red, about 85 days or so to maturity. Just snip them off with scissors or garden shears when you are ready to use them. This little heirloom hot pepper can be quite prolific, but no worries. Peppers can be used immediately or, if you are drowning in them and can’t give enough away, freeze them or dry them for later use. Another great idea is to make a batch of hot sauce which will last a long time and it also makes a great gift!

Seed Availability

Seeds are not available for the Chinese Five Color Pepper. Please visit our seed store to view current selections. Seeds were last available in February 2018.

Days to Maturity

80-90 Days

Heat Level

Hot.

Origin

China

Germination Info

Start seeds in small containers from 8-10 weeks prior to the last frost date. Plant seeds approximately 1/4-1/2″ deep in moist, well drained potting soil. Most standard soil mixes are suitable for pepper seeds. Soil temperature must be kept at 75-90F for proper germination. Cool soil, particularly at night can inhibit or significantly delay germination. To keep soil temperature warm, start seeds indoors, in a greenhouse and/or use a seed starting heat mat. Keep soil moderately moist, though not overly, dripping wet. Water soil when the soil surface just begins to dry. Allow proper air circulation for containers.
Optionally, seeds can be dipped in a dilute hydrogen peroxide mix (1 tsp hydrogen peroxide per cup water) for one minute to disinfect seeds prior to planting. If your soil or seed sprouting setup is susceptible to mold growth this can be useful to kill mold spores.
Once seedlings have sprouted, keep in small containers until a few sets of leaves have developed. Transplant to larger containers or outdoors. If transplanting outdoors, make sure to harden off seedlings by exposing them to only filtered sunlight for up to 1-2 weeks. Thin plants to 3-4 ft and rows to 6-10 ft.
Estimated germination time under optimal conditions: 2-6 weeks

Additional Pictures

Related Species

Solanaceae – Peppers
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Pequin Pepper
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Peter Pepper
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Santa Fe Grande Pepper
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Santaka Pepper
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Sheepnose Pepper
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Thai Dragon Pepper
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Vietnamese Multi Color Pepper
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Zimbabwe Black Pepper
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Pimenta de Neyde Pepper
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Aji Cito Pepper
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Aji Panca Pepper
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Aji Pineapple Pepper
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Dong Xuan Market Pepper
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Peanut Pepper
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Rain Forest Pepper
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7 Pot Barrackpore Pepper
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7 Pot Pepper
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Aji Dulce 1 Pepper
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Aji Dulce Yellow Pepper
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Aji Limo Pepper
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Aji Llanero Pepper
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Aji Yuquitania Pepper
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Aribibi Gusano Pepper
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Bhut Jolokia Pepper (Ghost Pepper)
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Black Cayman Pepper
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Black Habanero
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Bod’e Pepper
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Condor’s Beak Pepper
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Congo Trinidad Pepper
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Devil’s Tongue Pepper
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Fatalii Cream Pepper
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Flaming Icicle Pepper
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Habanero Pastel Pepper
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Malaysian Goronong Pepper
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Orange Habanero Pepper
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Red Habanero Pepper
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Sweet Datil Pepper
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Trinidad Sunrise Scorpion Pepper
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Wild Brazil Pepper
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Yellow Bhut Jolokia Pepper
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Tabasco Pepper
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Zimbabwe Bird Pepper
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Chinese 5-Color Pepper: Unexpected Shades

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A beauty that brings in shades of purple and cream…

Scoville heat units (SHU): 30,000 – 50,000
Jalapeño reference point: 4 to 20 times hotter
Origin: China
Products and seeds: Chinese 5-color pepper on Amazon

With its many hues and dark foliage, the Chinese 5-color pepper is a real beauty in the garden. It’s multi-colored, like the aurora pepper or Bolivian rainbow, but what makes it stand out from the pack is the unexpected shades it takes. Layers of purple and cream are in play, along with the more familiar yellows, oranges, and reds. Best of all, the Chinese 5-color pepper, even with its significant medium heat, delivers in the taste department, too – more than most other ornamental peppers – so it’s a great fit for edible landscaping projects.

How hot is the Chinese 5-color pepper?

Like most ornamental peppers, theres a good amount of kick to the Chinese 5-color pepper. It shares the same heat profile as the popular spice-rack staple, cayenne pepper – 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville heat units. Putting that in perspective against our jalapeño reference point, the Chinese 5-color is at least 4, but up to 20 times hotter than a jalapeño pepper, depending on the chilies tested.

What does it look like and taste like?

“5-color” is in the name, so it’s no surprise that there’s a lot of color to this ornamental. What’s unique is the shades themselves (and the variants in the shades, leading to a lot more than 5 total colors). Chinese 5-color peppers are small conical peppers that grow to about an inch in length. They run from shades of purple, then age into a beautiful cream color (not common), followed by shades of yellows, oranges, and reds – gaining in heat as they change in color on the vine. It creates a vivid landscape as each plant can have a wide variety of these colors as the peppers mature at different speeds through the growing cycle.

The taste is unexpected, too. Many ornamental peppers offer little in terms of flavor. They’re bred to focus on their looks, not flavor, so they tend towards high temps and a bitter flavor. The Chinese 5-color pepper actually has a sweetness to it that’s more flavorful than most other ornamentals. It’s not a complex chili flavor by any means, but it can serve dual purpose in the garden and the kitchen.

What are the best uses for this chili pepper?

For landscaping, the Chinese 5-color pepper is one of the best ornamental peppers around. It works both in gardens and containers, and it performs reasonably well indoors with enough light.

In the kitchen, the Chinese 5-color is a good pickling pepper, especially with its varied hues. They also make good drying peppers, whether to be converted into powder or rehydrated down the road. With their sweeter flavor, they are also pretty tasty fresh, though with a decent amount of pop that may be too much for many to handle. They’re a good base for a colorful salsa, or simply chop them to add some color to salads and soups.

Where can you buy Chinese 5-color peppers?

As these are ornamentals, you’re more likely to find seeds than fresh peppers. Look online for Chinese 5-color pepper seeds (they are easy to source) or try a well-stocked gardening center. These are uniquely beautiful chilies and relatively easy to grow, so for those with even modest green thumbs, don’t be afraid to give this pepper a chance. You’ll be rewarded both in the garden and kitchen.

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Ornamental Peppers Guide: The Bold And The Colorful

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Chili peppers are more than good eats. There’s a whole world of ornamental peppers out there that are hallmarks of edible landscaping. From multi-colored beauties to fruits that are black as night, these hot peppers are bred to accentuate their looks, adding a real sense of drama to a space. Our ornamental peppers guide showcases some of the best for both outdoor use and container gardening. Click on any of the profile links to get an even fuller sense of what each of these chilies is all about.

Note: All ornamental peppers are edible, though they aren’t known for their complexity of flavor. Since they are bred for their aesthetics, flavor is secondary. Their heat is often surprisingly intense and, while peppery in flavor, there’s often not a lot of nuance to the flavor. Still – these peppers can add a real color pop to the plate or in a fresh salsa.

Mild Ornamental Peppers

Tangerine Dream Pepper

0 to 100 Scoville heat units
See our full Tangerine Dream pepper profile here.

Talk about an orange crush,. We love the Tangerine Dream pepper, both for ornamental and culinary use. Unlike many other ornamentals, there’s actually a delicious sweetness to the flavor of the Tangerine Dream. And it’s really mild in heat – just a tick on the pepper scale above a bell pepper. The orange color, too, really pops against its green leaves. If you want your ornamental pepper as close to a sweet pepper as possible, this is it.

Medusa Pepper

1 to 1000 Scoville heat units
See our full Medusa pepper profile here.

The Medusa pepper takes its name right from the mythological creature. There’s a whole lot of slightly curved (and upright) multi-colored chilies on a compact plant creating a real “head of snakes” like feel. The compactness of the plant makes the Medusa pepper a perfect ornamental pepper for small spaces and container gardening. It has a touch of sweetness as well and a simmering mild heat that can get about as hot as a poblano pepper.

Chilly Chili

1 to 1,000 Scoville heat units
See our full Chilly Chili profile here.

The Chilly Chili is beautifully bright, with upright chilies showcasing multiple hues of yellow, orange, and red against a compact plant. They, too, work well in containers and provide a mild heat comparable to a poblano p at their highest point (though they can come very close to zero heat as well). They have a peppery flavor, though, without much nuance.

Medium Heat Ornamental Peppers

NuMex Centennial

1,000 to 5,000 Scoville heat units
See our full NuMex Centennial profile here.

With their more bulbous, pequin-like fruits, the NuMex Centennial provides a festiveness much like Christmas lights do. The fruits age at different times, providing a wide variety of purples, yellows, oranges, and reds to the ornamental. There’s jalapeño level heat here, but (as you’d expect) not a lot of flavor underneath it. It’s peppery, without the brightness you’d find in a jalapeño.

Bolivian Rainbow Pepper

10,000 to 30,000 Scoville heat units
See our full Bolivian Rainbow Pepper profile here.

The name says it all with the Bolivian rainbow pepper. This beauty matures into multiple colors – purple, yellow, orange, and red. And the upright pods have a Christmas light shape that really draws the eye. In terms of heat, the Bolivian rainbow sits above a jalapeño pepper – reaching cayenne level heat, so while edible this chili may be too spicy for some.

Black Pearl Pepper

10,000 to 30,000 Scoville heat units
See our full Black Pearl pepper profile here.

If you are looking for a chili pepper with a haunting name and a dramatic look – the Black Pearl is top of the pack. It’s a dark treasure – to start. Then, this tiny chili ages to a stunning crimson red. The fruit’s bold colors are set against dark leaves, adding to the dramatic effect. Black Pearl peppers do carry heat that can reach cayenne pepper level, so don’t let the small size fool you.

Black Cobra Pepper

20,000 to 40,000 Scoville heat units
See our full Black Cobra pepper profile here.

Another black pepper stunner, the Black Cobra’s thin, curved shape rises above the foliage like a cobra’s head ready to strike. It’s an edgy ornamental pepper for sure, and there’s a good amount of spiciness here (at its peak it can reach the mid-range of cayenne pepper), but there’s little nuance to the overall flavor of the chili.

NuMex Twilight

30,000 to 50,000 Scoville heat units
See our full NuMex Twilight pepper profile here.

The NuMex Twilight’s small pods showcase a world of color throughout the season – starting purple, then aging into yellows, oranges, and finally reds. And the heat is full-blown cayenne level, sharing the exact same Scoville range as the spice rack staple. The fruits of the NuMex Twilight are edible, but not flavorful. In fact, they have a salty, bitter undertone which makes them more difficult than many other ornamentals to use in the kitchen. Still – it’s a beauty in the garden and that’s what matters most for ornamentals.

Aji Omnicolor

30,000 to 50,000 Scoville heat units
See our full Aji omnicolor pepper profile here.

Multiple colors (as you can likely guess) are the name of the game with aji omnicolor. But what’s striking is the pastel hues the pods take on. The purple is often like a light lavender, the white like a subtle cream. Of course there are oranges and reds across the spectrum, too. The lighter hues though really set the aji omnicolor apart. What also sets it apart is there is real nuance to the flavor here. It’s sweet and fruity, perfect for summer fruit salsa, as long as you can take the cayenne-level heat.

Rooster Spur Pepper

30,000 to 50,000 Scoville heat units
See our full rooster spur pepper profile here.

The name here isn’t as “ornamental” as others. In fact – it’s more practical. The rooster spur pepper gets its name because the chili pod is slim and curved, like a rooster’s spur. They look a lot like Thai chilies, but without quite the same level of heat (the rooster spur follows the same Scoville heat range as cayenne pepper). They grow green to red, so the rooster spur is not as colorful as others on the list – but still a beauty! And there’s quite a bit of flavor here, bright and peppery (more so than other ornamentals), so it works well in the kitchen.

Super Chili Pepper

40,000 to 50,000 Scoville heat units
See our full Super Chili pepper profile here.

Super Chilies are much like rooster spur peppers, only slightly longer and with a slightly higher floor in terms of heat. The chilies are slim and curved – again like a Thai pepper. They also age from green to red, with shades of orange along the way. These ornamental peppers don’t have quite the flavor rooster spur peppers, though. It’s mostly heat that you taste given the spiciness is relatively high compared to other ornamentals.

Extra Hot Ornamental Peppers

Prairie Fire Pepper

70,000 to 80,000 Scoville heat units
See our full prairie fire pepper profile here.

It’s a world of color that’s backed up by a considerable heat! That’s the prairie fire pepper. The are small, like Christmas lights, with all sorts of colors on the plant: reds, yellows, oranges, purples, and creams. There’s surprising amount fruitiness in this ornamental, but it’s behind a pretty big spicy kick. They equal Thai peppers in heat (twice the heat of many cayenne peppers and ten times the heat of the hottest possible jalapeño). These are beauties in the garden or container, and they make one wicked salsa.

Ornamental Pepper ‘Chinese Five Color’

Height:

6-12 in. (15-30 cm)

12-18 in. (30-45 cm)

Spacing:

12-15 in. (30-38 cm)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Heat (Pungency):

Hot (5,000 to 30,000 Scoville Units)

Extremely Hot (above 30,000 Scoville Units)

Fruit Shape:

Tapered

Fruit Size:

Small (under 2″ in length)

Fruit Color:

Green changing to red

Green changing to gold

Green changing to orange

Purple changing to red

Disease Resistance:

Unknown – Tell us

Seed Type:

Open-pollinated

Usage:

Fresh (salsa, salads)

Pickling

Other details:

Unknown – Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Propagation Methods:

From seed; sow indoors before last frost

Seed Collecting:

Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds

Days to Maturity:

Mid (69-80 days)

Foliage Color:

Unknown – Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown – Tell us

Water Requirements:

Unknown – Tell us

Where to Grow:

Unknown – Tell us

Regional

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Maumelle, Arkansas

New Plymouth, Idaho

Downers Grove, Illinois

Geneseo, Illinois

Felicity, Ohio

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Liberty Hill, Texas

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Kennewick, Washington

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