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Nine Types of Chile Peppers Grow Straight Up

When picking out peppers to grow indoors or in the garden it is nice to pick a few varieties that are real showstoppers. If you’re looking for varieties that are a bit unique, you might consider ornamental peppers that grow straight up, which will add a nice bit of color and beauty to any garden.

There are many types of peppers that grow upright or straight up. These include:

  1. Tabasco peppers
  2. Thai Hot Ornamental peppers
  3. NuMex varieties (Christmas and Sunglo)
  4. Masquerade peppers
  5. Calico peppers
  6. Chilly Chili peppers
  7. Red Missile peppers
  8. Explosive Ember peppers
  9. Fresno peppers

Read on for a short list of some gorgeous and tasty upward-growing peppers. 


Calico peppers are one of the most striking peppers on the list. These cone-shaped beauties grow about one to two inches (2.5 to 5.1 cms) long and have a gorgeous dark purple sheen. However, its purple and cream-colored leaves are what’s really striking and eye-catching.

Calico peppers are ornamental, so their flavor, while very hot, does not compare to their beauty. They are best for framing your garden or as a visual accent in salsas. They are quite hot, so take caution if you decide to consume them!

  • Size: 1-2 inches (2.5 to 5.1 cms)
  • Shape: Stout, conical
  • Color: Dark purple/black pearl sheen
  • Spiciness: 50,000 – 70,000 Scoville heat units (SHU) (Hot)
  • Yields: Good
Photo of Chilly Chili peppers ranging from pale yellow to red and growing straight up
Photo by Gerald D. Tang

Chilly Chili

Chilly Chilis are well known as the family-friendly ornamental pepper. Unlike its peers, Chilly Chilis have had the heat bred out of them, so their mild nature makes them the perfect ornamental pepper for families with small children, since ingestion won’t cause a spicy incident.

Since they lack flavor and heat, they are not the best to cook with. But their blend of warm colors makes these peppers stand out.

  • Size: 2 inches (5.1 cms)
  • Shape: Small, long, thin, tapered at the end
  • Color: Yellow, orange, and red
  • Spiciness: 1-1,000 SHU (Sweet/Mild)
  • Yields: High

Explosive Ember

Explosive Embers are another cool variety of peppers to grow since their color changes as they mature. Early in their development, the peppers sport a bright purple color. However, as they continue to grow, their hue changes to orange and then red when fully mature.

The plant itself has green leaves and stems with white flowers. Like many of the peppers on this list, Explosive Embers are ornamental and best suited for decorating a garden or patio.

  • Size: 1 inch (2.5 cms)
  • Shape: Thin, conical
  • Color: Purple, orange, bright red
  • Spiciness: 50,000 SHU (Hot)
  • Yields: Good
Photo of purple Masquerade Peppers growing straight up in the garden
Photo by Nadtochiy


Masquerade is a well-suited name for this pepper because it changes color four times throughout its development. Due to this wide color gradient and their colorful flowers, Masquerades look gorgeous in bunches, making them an outstanding ornamental pepper plant.

These are spicy peppers, so take caution if you decide to use them in the kitchen!

  • Size: 2.5 inches (6.4 cms) long, .25 inch (.6 cm) wide
  • Shape: Long, tapered
  • Color: Green, purple, orange, and red when mature. Purple and white flowers
  • Spiciness: 70,000 SHU (Very Hot)
  • Yields: Good

NuMex Peppers

Before going further, we wanted to give a special mention to the Chile Pepper Institute, the only international nonprofit organization dedicated to researching the capsicum or chili pepper. Dr. Regents, professor of horticulture, and Paul W. Bosland co-founded the New Mexico State University organization in 1992.

The following peppers are born from cultivars first-developed at NMSU:

NuMex Christmas

Did you know that before poinsettias were all the rage, chile peppers were the go-to ornamental holiday plant?

Ornamental chile peppers debuted in Europe in the 15th century. Over time, they became the holiday plant of choice between the 1800s and 1920s due to their festive colors. NuMex Christmas hot peppers carry on this tradition with a dwarf pepper that sports red and green. Much like many of the ornamental peppers we have discussed above, these are very hot, so don’t be fooled by their small size!

  • Size: .8 inch (2 cms)
  • Shape: Small bullet shaped
  • Color: Green, red when ripe
  • Spiciness: 80,000-100,000 SHU (Very Hot)
  • Yields: High

NuMex Sunglo

There are plenty of NuMex pepper varieties, all of them providing beautiful aesthetics. Another great example is the NuMex Sunglo.

Like the glow of the sun, these peppers ripen into a bright yellow hue. These peppers are not very spicy but do add a nice splash of color to your garden. NuMex Sunglos are ornamental, and are a good option for adorning chile ristras and wreaths.

  • Size: 3.25 inches (8.3 cms) long and .5 inch (1.3 cms) wide
  • Shape: Small, long, thin, tapered
  • Color: Yellow
  • Spiciness: 500-1,000 SHU (Mild)
  • Yields: Good

New Mexico State University boasts a wide variety of ornamental peppers. They even have an ornamental pepper for practically any holiday, including April Fool’s Day and Thanksgiving! The peppers mentioned above are only the tip of the iceberg of what NuMex has to offer.

Red Missile

Red Missile peppers are a nice addition to any garden and can also add flavor to many dishes.

They have a creamy ivory appearance that develops into orange and red, making them a beautiful decorative plant. Red Missiles also have just enough heat and flavor to make them suitable for seasoning powders and sauces.

  • Size: 1.5 inches (3.8 cms) long and .75 inch (1.9 cm) wide
  • Shape: Short, thick, conical
  • Color: Green to red when mature
  • Spiciness: 5,000 to 15,000 SHU (Medium Hot)
  • Yields: Good
Photo of many red and pale yellow Tabasco peppers growing outdoors
Photo by Shijianying


Tabasco is a very well-known pepper, likely because of its association with the famous hot sauce of the same name. However, while the sauce only measures 2,500 to 5,000 SHU, Tabasco peppers themselves are much more potent.

Tabasco peppers are six to ten times stronger than Jalapeños and taste similar to Cayenne peppers. This pepper has plenty of culinary uses, whether for homemade sauce, a ground pepper powder, or a base for a soup or stew.

  • Size: Under 2 inches (5.1 cms) long
  • Shape: Tapered
  • Color: Yellow, orange, red when ripe
  • Spiciness: 30,000-50,000 SHU (Hot)
  • Yields: High

Thai Hot Ornamental Peppers

Thai Hot Ornamental peppers are another variety of peppers that grow upright. The peppers are green and red in color. Although they are quite spicy, these peppers are malleable and commonly used in different cuisines. Typically, chefs grind fresh pods into curry pastes to add flavor and color.

  • Size: 0.5-1 inch (1.3-2.5 cms)
  • Shape: Small bullet shaped
  • Color: Green, red when mature
  • Spiciness: 50,000-100,000 (Hot/Very Hot)
  • Yields: High
Photo by Photoking

Bonus: Fresno Pepper

Fresno peppers are a bit of an outlier to this list, because they don’t always grow upright, but do sometimes.

Fresno peppers are the Jalapeño’s spicier, fruitier cousin. Besides being a little more piquant and fruitier, Fresno peppers also have thinner walls than Jalapeños. These peppers are a great addition to any dish and can be used as a spicier substitute for Jalapeños.

  • Size: 2 to 3 inches (5.1 to 7.6 cms) long, 1.25 inches (3.2 cms) wide
  • Shape: Long, slightly curved
  • Color: Green, fiery red when mature
  • Spiciness: 2,500 – 10,000 SHU (Medium)
  • Yields: Good

Closing Thoughts

There are plenty of peppers that grow straight up and this list is just a small sample. These peppers are all great options if you’re thinking of sprucing up your garden or patio. Not only do they add color to your home, but many can be used to add delicious flavor and spice to your meals.

Here are Some of my Favorite Gardening Products and Tools

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found it helpful for growing some new plants in your home or garden. Here are some products I like that I hope you’ll also find helpful. These are affiliate links, and I am compensated for referring traffic. But in all honesty, these are the exact product that I use or recommend to everyone.

Soil: For high-quality soil, I really like Fox Farm Ocean Forest. I do all my growing in containers and this soil has worked great for me. I like how they use nutrient-rich contents like earthworm castings, bat guano, and composted crab and fish.

Fertilizer: Currently I am using a seaweed-based organic fertilizer call Neptunes Harvest. This is a great milder fertilizer option if you want to use something organic. If you want a more powerful fertilizer, I recommend Fox Farm Liquid Nutrient Trio, lots of people have had great growing success with this product.

Pruning Shears: Pruning shears are one of the most useful gardening tools to have because it’s important to prune your plants to keep them healthy. The pruning shears I recommend are the Gonicc 8’’ pruning shears. I like them because they are built sturdy and work both on bigger and smaller plants, so you don’t need to have multiple pruning shears. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to also participates in affiliate programs with other sites. is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.