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All About the Black Pearl Pepper

Sorry! The Black Pearl pepper has nothing to do with sailing the seven seas with Captain Jack Sparrow, but it’s still a fascinating variety worth getting to know.

The Black Pearl is primarily an ornamental pepper with dark purple, almost black, foliage that grows small bunches of fruits that start black and then turn red.

Although marketed as ornamental, the fruits are edible if you dare. They have a big kick for being so petite. Keep reading to see why you must add Black Pearl peppers to your garden!

Looking for Black Pearl seeds? Check availability.

Closeup of a Black Pearl pepper plant.

What is a Black Pearl Pepper?

The Black Pearl pepper is a cultivar of capsicum annuum. It was developed by scientists Rob Griesbach and John Sttommel of the Agricultural Research Services Vegetable Laboratory.

This pepper plant won the 2006 All-American Selections award for its unique beauty. There is truly no other ornamental pepper like the Black Pearl!

What Does it Look Like?

The stems of the Black Pearl grow upright from the soil in a bushy habit. The leaves surround small clusters of tiny peppers that are black at first.

Once the fruit has matured, they become a bright crimson red that pops against the dark-colored foliage. It’s a stunning-looking plant at this stage!

A Black Pearl plant with peppers beginning to turn from black to red.

The Black Pearl plant reaches a height of 1 to 2 feet, while the peppers only grow to around 1 inch in length.

Eating the Black Pearl Pepper

The reason this plant is primarily ornamental is the overall size of these peppers, which are tiny and less practical to use than other hot peppers. But if you’re willing to work with these diminutive chilis, prepare for a culinary adventure!


The taste of this pepper is best explained as an incredibly spicier version of a red bell pepper because, along with the heat, it does carry a sweetness.

Spice Level

Black pearl peppers pack quite a punch based on their tiny size.

Based on the Scoville scale, these peppers rank anywhere from 10,000 to 30,000 SHU.

For reference, a jalapeño is around 2,000 to 8,000. So it’s safe to say the Black Pearl isn’t your average spicy pepper.

Using the Black Pearl Pepper

If you dare to use this pepper, add it to salsa, salads, and other cold dishes to spice it up and add an exciting color. Spicy peppers like the Black Pearl go well with sweet fruits and citrus; you could add it to this fantastic peach salsa!

Growing the Black Pearl Pepper at Home

Black Pearl pepper plants.

Perennial or Annual?

If you live in zone 9 through 11 of the USDA hardiness zones, the Black Pearl pepper is considered a perennial, but in all other zones, they are considered an annual.

Bloom Time

The Black Pearl will bloom all summer long until early fall. The plant first blooms lilac blossoms before turning into black fruit.


This pepper is perfect if you need a plant that can withstand heat and drought. Only minimal water is required throughout the growing season. A good watering once a week would be ideal.


A Black Pearl pepper growing indoors.

The Black Pearl pepper requires a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight daily. If planted in partial sun, the foliage tends to be darker green versus purplish black. You’ll see the darkest foliage color when grown in full sun (8 plus hours a day).


There is no need to prune this pepper plant. It produces continuous fruit without any intervention or help.


When planting these peppers in your garden beds, leave at least one to two feet between plants.


If planted from seed, it takes 120 days to be able to harvest mature fruit from a Black Pearl.

Buying the Black Pearl Pepper

Black Pearl peppers in a garden.


Are you intrigued enough to want to grow Black Pearl peppers at home? If so, we can point you in the right direction!

We highly recommend the Black Pearl seeds sold online by one of our favorite seed retailers, True Leaf Market. Check out their seed selection for other unique plant varieties you may not have heard of.


If you want to skip germinating seeds and enjoy the rare beauty of these fruits, check out the landscaping section at your local nursery or garden center.

Planting From Seed: Brief Growers Guide

Person sowing pepper seeds.


Pepper plants are not the easiest to germinate. Remember you’ll need to start seeds indoors six to eight weeks before the last frost in your area.

To ensure germination, make sure to use highly fertile potting soil. Plant the seeds ¼ of an inch deep into your seed starters, water, and keep the soil between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

It may take anywhere from 7 to 14 days to germinate.

Once the seeds have sprouted, place them in an area where they can receive 12 to 14 hours of sunlight daily, they will need to remain here for about a month. This is when grow lights become extremely helpful.


Two weeks after the last frost is the safest time to transplant your pepper seedlings into garden beds or containers.

Even though Black Pearl peppers are drought resistant, they must be watered daily until they are established (or about two weeks).

We just touched on the basics here. Our guide, How to Plant Peppers, will provide more in-depth information for growing healthy pepper plants.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the Black Pearl pepper compare to other ornamental peppers?

Like all ornamental peppers, the Black Pearls are attractive, require minimal maintenance, and produce spicy peppers. Although edible, most ornamental pepper fruits are too spicy and tiny for culinary use.

Do these peppers do well in containers?

This plant grows very well in containers! The best part is if you live in a zone where these peppers are annuals, you can bring them indoors once it is too cold.

What plants look good next to the Black Pearl pepper?

Black Pearl pepper plant next to bright green plant.

If you want to plant these peppers in your landscaping, mixing them with contrasting silver foliage plants like dusty miller or lambs ear is a popular combination. It creates a striking juxtaposition of color.

Or you can play up the purple or red colors of the Black Pearl with other red or purple-hued plants.

One Beautifully Spicy Ornamental Pepper

Closeup of Black Pearl peppers.

The Black Pearl pepper is a stunning plant for landscaping or containers. These peppers pack a big punch for their size, so use caution when trying them out for the first time in your kitchen.

Of course, if you’re not into spicy, you can enjoy a Black Pearl for its beautiful foliage and fruit colors.

Are you still searching for the perfect pepper plant? Check out our website’s Pepper Plants page for profiles of pepper varieties and growing guides full of tips and tricks.