Capsicum annuum 'Black Pearl'
Common Name: ornamental pepper 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Solanaceae
Zone: 9 to 11
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


Easily grown in moist, organically rich, fertile, well-drained soils in full sun. Peppers demand warm weather and don’t like their roots disturbed. Plant seeds in a sunny warm location in peat pots (3 seeds to a pot, thinning to 1 plant per pot) 6 to 8 weeks before transplanting into the garden after all danger of frost is past and night temperatures are consistently at or above 55°F. Plant 18 to 24" apart in rows 18 to 24" apart. Do not permit seedlings or plants to suffer from low temperature or drought. Pinch young plants to promote bushiness. Mulching between plants is useful. Avoid planting where peppers, tomatoes, or eggplants grew previously. All three are members of the nightshade family and are subject to similar diseases. After one or more plantings of any of these three in a particular location, carryover pathogens in the soil can infect new plants. Peppers do well as container plants, and can be maintained over longer periods with indoor wintering, providing a sufficiently sunny location is available. Frost-tender perennials that are most often grown as annuals.

‘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

Most cultivated peppers, also known as chili peppers, can be categorized as one of three general types: sweet peppers, hot peppers or ornamental peppers. However, these categories are general at best. Some hot peppers aren’t hot, all peppers can be highly ornamental, many ornamental peppers are hot, etc. -- and none of these categories necessarily mirror botanical nomenclature distinctions.

Peppers were one of the earliest plants cultivated in the New World. Archeological evidence suggests that peppers were used as food ingredients in Peru more than 8,000 years ago. Columbus mistakenly applied the label ‘pepper’ to the plant he found growing in Caribbean gardens, likely confusing it with the highly prized but botanically unrelated black pepper. Within 100 years, peppers had spread around the world and today constitute the defining ingredient in traditional cuisines worldwide, including countries such as Italy, Thailand, Hungary, India, Spain, China and Holland.

Botanically, most cultivated peppers today are Capsicum annuum (most common), C. frutescens (tabasco), C. chinense (habanero), or crosses within and among these various species.

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.


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.


A colorful addition to containers, window boxes, and border edges. Mass plantings.