8 dwarf pepper plants perfect for container gardens

Growing peppers at home holds the promise of an enriching experience. While most pepper plants tend to reach heights of 3 to 4 feet, there are several more compact varieties. These tiny pepper plants pave the way for indoor and patio gardening, which is particularly beneficial for individuals with limited space.

What are dwarf pepper plants?

While there are a vast number of “dwarf” tomato varieties that are extremely compact, pepper plants don’t have a distinct “dwarf” category. 

For the sake of this article, we’ll focus on pepper plants that typically don’t exceed a height of 18 inches: essentially, some of the smallest pepper varieties in terms of the size of the plant.

Why grow dwarf varieties of peppers?

Dwarf pepper plants, as the name suggests, are notably smaller than their full-sized counterparts, and this compactness offers distinct advantages. They are an excellent choice for container gardening, small patios, and indoor cultivation.

I’m curating my own collection of miniature pepper plant seeds with the goal of growing both hot and sweet peppers indoors during the winter. 

However, the space I have available, a basement cupboard, provides just 18 inches of clearance. Most regular pepper plants grow at least 2 feet tall, and some even reach heights of 5 feet or more. Given these space limitations, it’s clear that opting for these smaller, more manageable varieties is the logical choice.

Here are some of the smallest pepper plants, perfect for growing indoors or in containers

Here is a lineup of pepper plants perfect for indoor or container growing due to their petite nature. These varieties are specifically chosen because they rarely grow taller than 18 inches, even when fully grown. They stand out as some of the smallest pepper plants you can cultivate.

1. Filius Blue hot peppers

Filius Blue peppers are a miniature variety that thrives on a compact plant. These peppers are distinguished by their small, round pods, measuring approximately ¾ of an inch in diameter. They begin with a vibrant purple hue and become a rich, deep red as they mature. While often used for ornamental purposes due to their striking appearance, these peppers are also edible, offering visual appeal and culinary potential.

Heat level: Hot (58,000 SHU)

Plant height: 6-12” 

2. Thai hot peppers

thai chilis growing on a plant with pot in background

Thai chilis, a staple in Thai and Southeast Asian cuisines are readily available at most grocery stores. Botanical Interests offers a specific variety of Thai chilis that reaches a compact height of only 8-10 inches, making it an excellent choice for indoor or small-space growing. These pepper pods extend upwards, reaching lengths up to 3 inches, and deliver a substantial heat kick, boasting a heat range of 50,000-100,000 SHU.

Heat level: Hot (50,000-100,000 SHU)

Plant height: 8-10”

3. Tiny Samoa

Tiny Samoa peppers are an edible ornamental variety that matures from green to red. The pods range from .5 to 0.75 inches long and are reportedly hot, although no SHU data has been published. They are highly prolific, producing tons of pepper pods that are great for drying and pickling. 

Heat level: Medium-hot (SHU unknown)

Plant height: 6-12”

4. Patio fire and ice peppers

Patio fire and ice peppers are some of the smallest plants you’ll find. Specifically bred to grow in containers, they only get to be 10” tall. They are used as an ornamental variety but are also edible. The pods grow in clusters of 6-8 and are sweet and noticeably spicy at 5,000 SHU (about the same as the average jalapeño.)

Heat level: Medium (5,000 SHU)

Plant height: 10”

5. Pot-a-peno peppers

Pot-a-penos are a jalapeño variety bred to thrive in hanging baskets. The compact plants grow to be only 12-16” tall, with up to an impressive 50 peppers. These are an early variety of jalapeños that mature to green in about 45 to 50 days from transplant.

Heat level: Medium (5,000 SHU) 

Plant height: 12-16”

6. NuMex Twilight

several small potted numex twilight plants
Image credit: “File:New Mex Twilight (blooming).jpg” by Grueslayer is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

NuMex Twilight peppers are an ornamental hybrid of Thai chilis developed by the New Mexico State University. The pepper pods are tiny, growing to be only 1” long and creating a rainbow effect with peppers maturing from purple to yellow to orange to red at slightly different times. The heat is also less than standard Thai chilis, at 30,000-50,000 SHU. 

Heat level: Hot (30,000-50,000 SHU)

Plant height: 18”

7. Biquinho

biquinho

Biquinho peppers are tiny Brazilian peppers that only grow to be ¾”–1¼”. They have just a hint of heat at 1,000-2,000 SHU and taste bright and fruity. The plants can grow to be as tall as 24”, but shorter plants only grow to be 15” tall. 

I am growing biquinho peppers in my (outdoor) summer garden and will also take a crack at growing them indoors this winter. My outdoor garden doesn’t get quite enough sunlight, so the plants are only about 12” tall — but with dozens of ripening peppers. It’s hard to get enough quality light in indoor settings, so I don’t imagine that plants will grow to be too large indoors. 

Heat level: Mild (1,000-2,000 SHU)

Plant height: 15″–24″

8. Alma paprika peppers

a light yellow apple-shaped pepper
Image credit: Chrissie Sternschnuppe, shared under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

Alma paprika peppers are a Hungarian pepper commonly used in the spice we know as paprika. These peppers are round and 2” in diameter and mature from yellow to bright red. They are commonly pickled or dried and processed into paprika powder.

While some seed sellers put alma paprika plants in the 2-3 foot tall range, Reimer seeds have a variety that they claim only grows to be 18” tall at full maturity.

Heat level: Mild to Medium (2,000-10,000 SHU)

Plant height: 18” 

While it’s relatively challenging to find information on tiny pepper plant varieties, a surprising number of peppers don’t grow to be larger than 18″ tall. These compact plants provide the opportunity to grow fresh peppers no matter how limited your growing space.

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