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Plant of the Month: Ornamental Pepper

Chenxo & Loco

Capsicum ‘Loco’

Latin name: Capsicum
Common name: Hot pepper
Type: Summer annual
Flowers: Small, colorful fruit
Mature size: 18” tall x 24” wide
Hardiness: Early spring to frost
Soil: Moist
Exposure: Full sun
Water usage: Medium
Sources: Local nurseries and mail order

What amazing weather we have had this spring and early summer! My spring color lasted much longer than I’m used to, but now it’s time to turn over my spring color and start to add my summer pop. I looked at my containers, trying to decide what I really wanted to do with them, and all I could think about was salsa. Being a native Texan in the heart of Tex-Mex cuisine country, I think of salsa more than I should. So I decided I had to have a mild to hot pepper that looked very ornamental and satisfied my palate. I’ve had great success with ornamental peppers like ‘Sangria’ and ‘Black Pearl’, but I really wanted to plant a pepper that was bred to feast upon as well as being pretty.

A few years ago we started trialing container-bred veggies from a European company called Vegetalis. The company was focusing on crop production for small in-ground spaces or patio gardening. We found several winners in our Dallas Arboretum Plant Trials, but my favorite was the pepper ‘Loco’. ‘Loco’ can fill out a medium to large container, cascade out of a hanging basket or grow equally well in-ground, just reaching 18 inches tall by 24 inches wide. The nice, compact habit makes the plant remind me of a perfect little bonsai tree covered in peppers. The small oval fruits range from deep purple to bright red with age.

‘Loco’ has earned our Plant Trials FlameProof award, so you can be assured that it can take our Texas heat all summer long and will thrive until first frost. I’ll have plenty of peppers for my salsa and pico de gallo this summer and will have achieved the ornamental look that I was craving. Go out and look for pepper ‘Loco’ at your favorite retail garden center, or mail order it on-line.