‘Chinese Five Colour’ Hot Peppers

'Chinese Five Color' Hot Pepper

At a Toronto area You Grow Girl meet up last week we discussed our gardening successes and disappointments of the last year. Beth, a rooftop container gardener mentioned that she was most disappointed by her container-grown ‘Chinese Five Colour’ (or color for the Americans) Hot Pepper plant, stating that the plant was boring and the peppers bland, and tasteless. I was surprised since my experience with this variety has placed it onto my list of current favourites and a plant that I will definitely grow again if not promote to other gardeners, especially container gardeners. This is one of those discussions that reminds me how varied our gardening experiences can be, even with the same varieties and seemingly similar growing conditions. I sometimes forget in my enthusiasm when reviewing a plant that my outcome isn’t universal. I am reminded that what works for me might not work for someone else, and vice-versa.

And knowing this I still feel an irrational obligation to defend the plant like I’m defending my taste for souvenir picture trays or cheesy poutine. “You don’t know!

And so, I give you:

In Defense of ‘Chinese Five Colour’ Hot Peppers

  • I grew this plant as an experimental comparison to last year’s favourite, “New Mex Twilight’ hot pepper. The plants are very similar in that they are both produce gorgeous green foliage with purple stems and veins, with small hot peppers that start out light purple and evolve into a rainbow ending in bright red when fully mature. In comparison, the plants were very similar but the ‘Chinese Five Colour’ produces larger fruit. The larger fruit stood out sharply in contrast to the leaves. It was really stunning!
'Chinese Five Color' Hot Peppers
  • I will say it again: gorgeous green foliage with purple stems and veins that produced an abundance of rainbow-coloured fruit.
  • My peppers are indeed HOT!
  • One plant produced enough fruit to braid an attractive string of drying peppers. Everyone I know will be in hot peppers for eternity.
  • Grew easily into a large plant in a medium-sized container.
  • Colette of Urban Harvest (whom I purchased the plant from) informed me that this variety is rare while ‘New Mex Twilight’ is not. I am a sucker for a good back story and admit to being completely duped by the term “rare.”
'Chinese Five Color' Hot Pepper
    With Kitty aka “Voltron: Defender of the Universe” who comes running whenever the camera is out.
Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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15 thoughts on “‘Chinese Five Colour’ Hot Peppers

  1. You sure don’t need to defend your taste for poutine to me! I always return home from Montreal with a suitcase full of poutine cheese!

    I’m totally convinced by your crusade (esp the photos) and am adding this pepper to next years grow list. Thanks!

  2. My peppers could have stood more protection from soaking rains and more heat. My bet is that her peppers got really wet and the flavour washed out, or didn’t get to cross pollinate with the superhots!


  3. Tina: Yeah that’s what I suggested to her… too much rain, maybe not enough heat and sun.

    MeMeMosa: That is my evil plot… lure them in with pictures.

    Sparky: She also likes to “help” by eating all of the lemongrass.

  4. OK I’m sold on the 5 colour peppers. Where can I order some plants or seeds? I’ve been looking everywhere.

  5. So glad you posted your pepper defense and pictures. I’ve decided that I’m going to have a rainbow garden (plants with lots of colors)in the lasagna bed I’m currently building. I’ve already ordered my Chinese Five Color Peppers, Purple-Podded Pole Beans, and Rainbow Chard. Can’t wait to show DH your pictures!

  6. That is such a cool plant! Now I want one for next year too! :) Aww, that’s such a precious kitty!

  7. I just came across this post now as a very belated followup to our convo about my pitiful peppers… Looking at your photo at the top, I’m not sure that we were actually growing the same variety. Since my plant has long since died back and ended up in the compost, I can’t tell you exactly what the difference is but if memory serves correctly, my plant had bigger parts – i.e. leaves and pepper. also, the stems didn’t go purple like that either. So I was supposed to be growing the chinese 5 colour peppers, but maybe it had been tagged wrong. Also, I only got three colours out of them – green -> purple -> red.

  8. I have a few of these Chinese Five Color Hot Pepper plants. A older man was selling them a few years ago along the side of the road. Every winter they seem to just about die but, then they come back in the spring. I live in pa so, it gets very cold. Any suggestions would be very appreciated.

    Thank you.

  9. I inherited these peppers from the prior homeowner and several gardners told me they were not edible. Not only is the plant rare but so is information. I love the idea of braiding a string of drying peppers. Thanks!

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