Capsicum annuum 'Black Pearl'
Common Name: ornamental pepper
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Solanaceae
Zone: 4 to 10
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: Flowers not showy
Bloom Description: Purple
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Annual, Vegetable
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Colorful
Fruit: Showy

Culture

Annual. Easily grown in moist, organically rich, fertile, well-drained soils in full sun. Pinch young plants to promote bushiness. Start seed indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost date. Set seedlings or purchased plants out in the garden after last frost date.

‘Black Pearl’ may be grown from seed. Best black foliage color occurs in full sun. Plants have good tolerance for high heat and humidity. Plants generally need little pruning.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Although grown in vegetable gardens for many years, peppers are becoming increasingly popular as ornamentals. Plants of this species are quite varied but generally grow in shrubby mounds to 1-4’ tall and feature star to bell-shaped white or yellow flowers and lance-shaped to oval medium green leaves. Flowers give way to edible peppers, ranging from extremely hot chili peppers to sweet bell peppers. Many cultivars have been developed with a view toward ornamental use, featuring attractive peppers in bright shades of red, yellow, purple, orange and brown. This species has been organized into five botanical groups: Cerasiforme group (cherry peppers), Conioides group (cone peppers), Fasciculatum group (red cone peppers), Grossum group (sweet bell peppers) and Longum group (chili peppers and cayenne peppers).

Genus name comes from the Greek word kapto meaning to bite.

Specific epithet means annual.

‘Black Pearl’ is most noted for its glossy black foliage and its black-maturing-to-red fruit. It grows vigorously in an upright bushy mound to 18” tall and 12” wide. Ovate leaves (to 3” long) emerge green but quickly turn shiny black. Leaves retain good color throughout the growing season. Small purple flowers appear in clusters in summer, but are not particularly ornamental. Flowers are followed by small, round, pearl-like, black fruit (3/4” diameter) that matures to cherry red. Fruits are pointed at the base. Fruits are technically edible but extremely hot. 2006 All-America Selection winner.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Fungal and bacterial leaf spot, wilt, mosaic virus and stem/root rot may occur. Potential insect pests include aphids, white flies, cutworms, pepper maggots and Colorado potato beetles.

Garden Uses

Bedding, edging, containers, window boxes and houseplants.