It’s not very often that we devote an entire article to a single plant, but when it comes to this little hot pepper variety – we felt it more than deserved a place on center stage!

Hot Pepper
Hot peppers are a staple in our kitchen (photo: Nadia Lobada/shutterstock)

Mary and I certainly both love hot peppers. Whether it’s growing hot Hungarian Wax peppers for Mary’s famous Hot Pepper Mustard, the fiery jalapeno for salsa, pico de gallo and cowboy candy, or any of the other 12 varieties grown throughout our garden and landscape – hot peppers are a must!

But for us, there is one variety that stands out as the best pepper we have ever grown – the Chinese Five Color Heirloom Hot Pepper.

The Chinese Five Color’s beauty, flavor, productivity, and versatility in both the landscape and the kitchen are simply amazing – let alone it is one of the easiest and most forgiving plants you can grow. Here is why we love it:

The Looks

Beyond their amazing flavor, the Chinese Five Color is one of the most beautiful pepper plants you will ever grow. 

hot pepper
A mass planting of Chinese Five Color peppers at the farm

Each plant can grow hundreds of 1″ peppers in a gorgeous array of colors ranging from a creamy white, to lavender, deep purple, orange and red (hence, the name 5 color). On average, in good growing conditions – the peppers will grow into a compact shrub-style shape about 24″ high and 12 to 18″ in diameter. 

The peppers are so attractive that we grow them in the landscape beds all over our farm to add big bursts of color and interest. They also grow perfectly in containers and even hanging baskets, making for a stunning conversation piece on your back porch, deck or patio.  Seed Link :  Chinese 5 Color Pepper Seeds

The Flavor

I have never been one to want to have heat just for the sake of being hot. I feel like a hot pepper needs to have flavor first, with the heat as an enhancer. When it comes to the Chinese Five Color – the flavor is out of this world!

Fresh picked, they have a crisp, almost sweet and spicy zing that heats the taste buds without lingering on the tongue. In fact, with your first taste, you may briefly think they are a crunchy, sweet, snacking-style pepper. And then the fire rolls in and begins to fill your mouth with the perfect sweet heat. Just when you think you might have literally bit of more than you can chew  – the heat gently fades away, leaving you wanting more.

We use them fresh in salads, salsa and stir fry’s to give a little burst of sweet pepper heat – and when it comes to homemade chili – they make the perfect addition for kick and flavor. With a small and compact seed core that is easy to remove – they also make for a great pepper to stuff with fillings for a tasty appetizer.  

But beyond using fresh – they are the best tasting, easiest drying pepper you will ever find. We simply load up a few pans of peppers, dry them in the oven, and grind them down to make our hot pepper flakes and powder. The flakes are the perfect topping for pizza, eggs, or any dish that needs a dose of heat. As a powder, it makes cayenne seem boring – with a similar heat level, but loads of additional flavor!  

Drought and Pest Resistant 

hot pepper
The colors of the Chinese 5 Color pepper are simply beautiful.

Here is the best part of all – the Chinese Five Color peppers are virtually impervious to damage from pests and drought! In fact, they actually help keep pests away! We plant them strategically around the edge of the garden and in flowerbeds throughout the farm as a deterrent for rabbits and other small animals that like to nibble on our other veggies.

So here is to the Chinese Five Color pepper – our favorite hot pepper of all-time!

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Happy Gardening!  Jim and Mary

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