If you’ve decided to grow a few varieties of peppers this season, you might be surprised that some of your peppers are growing upward. In other words, the fruits themselves are growing upright instead of hanging down from the branches. This is actually normal for a number of varieties.
Peppers that grow upwards include:
- Tabasco peppers
- Thai peppers, including Thai Sun, White Thai, Thai Dragon, and Thai Hot
- Chinese 5-color peppers
- Calico peppers
- Fresno peppers
- Prairie Fire peppers
- Masquerade peppers
- Chilly Chili peppers
- Black Pearl peppers
- Red Missile peppers
- Aji Charapita peppers
- Explosive Ember peppers
- Filipino Bird’s Eye peppers (Siling Labuyo)
- African Bird’s Eye peppers (Piri Piri)
- Facing Heaven peppers
- NuMex Twilight peppers
- Bahamian Bird peppers
Should you Worry about your Peppers Growing Upward?
Generally, there’s no need to worry if your peppers are growing upward. For some varieties, this is their natural growth habit. Even peppers that don’t normally grow this way and that are growing upward in your garden are nothing to worry about.
There are only two possible concerns that are worth pointing out when peppers grow upward:
- Larger peppers may break off the plant prematurely. Larger peppers varieties like bell peppers may break off the plant before they are ripe due to the extra stress that is placed on the pepper stem. In general, you’ll find that all peppers that naturally grow upward are small varieties.
- The peppers may be more attractive to birds. Because upwardly growing peppers are often more visible, they’re more vulnerable to bird attack. Unfortunately, birds don’t face any effects from the capsaicin in hot peppers, so they can munch on them happily without feeling any of the heat that we do.
Why do some Peppers Grow Upward?
A number of small pepper varieties will grow upwards because it is their natural state of growing. This is due to the existence of a specific gene that determines whether a pepper grows upwards or hangs down off the branch.
Another point to remember is that the upward growing gene is recessive while the downward growing gene is dominant. Therefore, if you cross a downward growing pepper variety with an upward growing one, you’ll end up with downward growing peppers when you collect and grow the seeds from the cross-pollinated plant.
The reason that normally downward growing peppers will sometimes grow upward is a little more complicated. In general, it’s the result of a growing bud that has been forced upward through some type of growth restraint.
For example, the young bud may have developed right up against a garden stake or even another branch of the plant. When this happens, and the fruit starts to develop, the stem becomes firmer and thicker, and the developing pepper will grow upwards.
This is nothing to be worried about because it will not affect the quality of the fruit.
Are all upright Growing Peppers Hot?
Generally speaking, the growth habit of the pepper doesn’t affect the heat of the fruit. However, you will find that most peppers that grow upright naturally are the hotter varieties.
These pepper varieties are generally quite small, which makes it far easier for them to grow upward.
However, there are some sweet pepper varieties that have been bred to grow upward even though the fruits don’t have any real heat. For example, the variety Capsicum annuum ‘Lemon Dream’ is a compact, small growing plant that has glossy bright yellow fruits that grow upward. The fruits are mild in heat and sweet in taste.
Are there Advantages to Growing Upright Peppers?
Basically, there are two advantages to growing upright peppers.
- The peppers are easier to harvest. Peppers that grow upward are much easier to see and harvest. Especially if you like to harvest green peppers. These fruits quite often can hide within the foliage, and you can easily miss them when it comes time to harvest them. With upward-growing peppers, you don’t have this problem.
- The pepper plants are more ornamental. This makes them ideal for growing in flower beds or even in pots on your veranda or patio. The bright-colored fruits will add a bit of accent to your garden, and they’re pretty to look at. In fact, some pepper plants are grown purely for their ornamental value. Smaller varieties can even be grown in a hanging basket to brighten up your outdoor entertainment area.
Some Popular Upright Growing Peppers that you might Like to Try
If you haven’t tried growing upright peppers yet, here are a few popular varieties that you might like to try.
- Calico Peppers. These are mostly grown for their ornamental value, but they are edible as well. These are quite hot, with a rating of 50,000 to 70,000 SHU. Their leaves have a lovely purple sheen, and the upward-growing fruit is quite striking as they go through their various color changes.
- Chilly Chili. This is an ornamental pepper that is sweet and not hot. It has a rating of 1 to 1,000 SHU. They do lack intensive flavor, but they make the most beautiful ornamental plants with their dark green leaves and colorful fruits that grow straight up.
- Masquerade. If you’re after a hot pepper, this is one to try. It has a rating of 70,000 SHU. The fruits go through four different color changes from green to purple, orange, and finally, red. Even the purple and white flowers are quite ornamental.
- Red Missile. These peppers are ideal not only as ornamental plants but also great for people who like a little heat but not too much. They have a rating of 5,000 to 15,000 SHU, which makes them medium hot. The fruits also go through several color changes as they mature.
- Tabasco. For hot pepper lovers, this is the one grow. It has a rating of 30,000 to 50,000 SHU. Not only is this pepper great for use in the kitchen, but the plants are quite pretty and will add a little color to your garden.