Chilly Chili: The Family-Friendly Ornamental Pepper

Beautiful and very mild…

Scoville heat units (SHU): 1 – 1,000
Jalapeño reference point: 2 to 8,000 times milder
Origin: USA
Seeds: Chilly chili on Amazon

Behind the beauty of most ornamental peppers lies intense heat, but not the Chilly Chili. These peppers are closer to a bell pepper in spiciness than a jalapeño, making their beauty very family-friendly in comparison. If keeping your edible garden “colorful yet mild” is key, this hot pepper is a perfect choice. The Chilly Chili plant’s bright bunches of yellow, orange, and red peppers really are a standout, both in containers and outdoor gardens.

How hot are Chilly Chili peppers?

They are a heat that’s very fitting to the name, at least in comparison to other ornamental peppers on the Scoville scale. They are on the “chillier” site of the heat scale. Most ornamentals are bred to enhance their beauty, without care to complexity of flavor or controlling overall heat. The Chilly Chili is different, at least in one case. The heat has been bred out of this pepper, while maintaining its beautiful looks. Chilly Chili peppers have a mild heat that run only as hot as the mildest poblano pepper. In fact, most Chilly Chilies fall closer to no heat, than noticeable heat, making them very family-friendly. In terms of our jalapeño reference point, the Chilly Chili runs from 3 to 8,000 times milder than a jalapeño, depending on the chilies chosen.

What do Chilly Chili peppers look like?

They are like a burst of color in a garden or container. Chilly Chili peppers in bunches, standing straight up from the plant, like they are reaching for the sky. They grow from two to three inches in length, and their bunching gives the plant a presence that’s bigger than expected.

And then there’s the color. These peppers age from a pale yellow to shock red, with hues of bright yellows and oranges in-between. One bunch can have chilies at all levels of maturity, making the plant very colorful throughout the season.

What do these peppers taste like?

While their mildness is unlike other ornamentals, their flavor certainly is. There isn’t much complexity here – just a peppery taste. Yes, they are edible – like any ornamental pepper is – but really they are much better as landscaping than as culinary chilies.

How can you use Chilly Chili peppers?

Landscaping is obviously the best use. As ornamental peppers, there are few as popular as Chilly Chilies – especially because of their super-mild heat. There’s no danger of kids mistakenly eating a surprisingly high-heat ornamental here. In the kitchen, their best use cases are for adding color to a plate. They can bring aesthetic life to a plain green salad, or use simply as a garnish on an otherwise colorless plate.

Where can you buy Chilly Chili peppers?

Many garden centers will carry Chilly Chili pepper seeds, so check your local options. Or you can buy the seeds online very easily. This is a pepper that’s relatively easy to grow in either an edible garden or container (and can work indoors and out), so even if your green thumb is a little pale, you can do well.

If you want a beautiful, yet mild ornamental pepper, there are few that compare with the Chilly Chili. It’s simply lovely. The burst of color can really bring life to your garden.

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UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on May 10, 2022 to include new content.
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