Ornamental Pepper ‘Calico’

CALICO-00It’s easy to see how this pepper got its name: there are a lot of colors going on here, yet somehow it all works. With its variegated leaves and multi-colored fruit, ‘Calico’ has long seasonal appeal. As summer starts there is strong contrast in the tricolor variegation, with deep purples and greens highlighted by light creamy splashes. At this point the plants sport small purple flowers for added interest. In a few weeks, the fruit will start to develop and by late summer glossy cones of black will appear, turning bright red as they mature. 


This is a fun pepper to work with in both large containers and landscaping beds. Because of its highly ornate leaves and fruit, we recommend placing ‘Calico’ in locations around walkways, entrances and other places where people naturally congregate. This is a pepper that draws attention.


Drop our 6-inch and 8-inch plants into decorative ceramic or plastic pots for a splash of color on outdoor tables, decks and stairs—cheerful containers add an air of hospitality. This pepper is a low grower, so its height won’t get in the way of walking traffic and with regular watering it will last until the frost arrives in late autumn.


‘Calico’ is easy to grow—it loves the sun and will adapt to dry or moist conditions, although well-drained soil is preferred. Standing water will do the plant in, but it’s fairly tolerant of urban pollution. Its habit is bushy and compact, wider at the top than at the base. It will grow about a foot in height with a spread of about 14–16 inches wide. Eye-catching in the landscape when planted en masse, its medium texture blends well with other plants, too. ‘Calico’ adds some fun to combination planters and hanging baskets; as a pepper, it makes a nice accent plant for hot locations.


Peppers are considered to be good beginners’ plants because they’re so easy to grow. This is why people like to set peppers out on their porch steps. Such low-maintenance makes these plants ideal for landscaping contracts where a little bit of flash goes a long way toward infusing personality into a garden design.

Please note that the fruit is very hot, rating about 30,000 units on the Scoville heat scale. The taste has been described as scorching, so we do not consider ‘Calico’ to be an edible pepper. Be extremely careful and do not plant it where toddlers might play nearby.

‘Calico’ is shipping now in both 6-inch and 8-inch pots.