Did you know there are thousands of pepper varieties that you can grow in your garden?
It’s true! You might only be able to name a few peppers, like the classic bell pepper, jalapeño peppers, and banana peppers, but those are just the tip of the iceberg. Over the years, gardeners have developed a huge range of pepper varieties in different colors, shapes, flavors, and spice levels.
When you pick your favorite peppers to grow, you have to consider whether you want sweet or hot peppers. Let’s look at some of the best of each to help you pick what to grow this year!
Best Sweet Pepper Varieties
Don’t limit yourself to one; try growing a few of the best pepper varieties in your garden. From super hot to sweet and mild, there is a pepper for everyone on this list.
Sweet peppers have a Scoville rating under 1,000. They might have a slight spice, but these won’t make you feel like your mouth is on fire.
1. Bell Boy
Bell Boy peppers are meaty, sweet peppers that measure around 4.5 inches square. The walls are thick, and most have four lobes. Maturity takes around 70 days, maturing from green to red. These are compact, hybrid plants that grow well in containers.
2. California Wonder
If you want a juicy, sweet pepper, consider growing California Wonder. These peppers take between 68 and 89 days to mature, and once they do, the peppers are bright crimson, glossy, and 4 inches wide. California Wonder peppers have thick walls with three to four lobes.
This pepper variety measures up to three feet tall. They grow vigorously with plenty of leaves. California Wonder is an open-pollinated variety rather than a hybrid plant, and it’s known for being resistant to tobacco mosaic virus.
3. Corno di Toro
Some call this pepper Yellow Bull’s Horn, and it’s a sweet pepper with a bit of spice. It’s not hot enough to be a hot pepper, but they aren’t sweet enough to really be a sweet pepper.
The peppers measure eight inches long at full maturity but only 2 inches wide. They’re tapered and long and curve at the point, looking like the horn of a bull. Corno di Toro peppers mature to a deep golden yellow or deep red pepper, depending on the cultivar, in 68 to 70 days.
This pepper is a traditional Italian favorite that’s one of the best heirloom, open-pollinated pepper varieties.
4. Early Pimento
Early Pimento peppers are heart-shaped, maturing from green to red in only 60 days. That makes this one of the earliest pepper varieties, and they have heavy yields.
Home gardeners love Early Pimento peppers. They’re delicious for fresh eating, but their firm flesh works great for canning. Since these are hybrid peppers, they have consistent yields, and they’re resistant to most diseases.
5. Golden Bell
As you might imagine by the name, Golden Bell peppers turn from light green to bright yellow-gold at maturity. It takes 70 days for these sweet peppers to mature, and they measure up to four inches wide with three to four lobes.
The plants are vigorous and compact, only reaching up to 21 inches tall. The leaves are large, providing good coverage for the peppers. This hybrid plant is perfect for container gardens.
Gypsy peppers are delicious; this pepper variety is known for being sweet, tender, and delicious. The peppers are wedge-shaped with a slight curve, measuring three to four inches long. It takes 65 days for Gypsy peppers to mature, ripening to orange or red with thin walls.
This hybrid plant also works well for containers because the plants only reach 12 to 20 inches tall. Despite their size, they spread wide and produce ample, consistent harvest.
Jupiter peppers are large, measuring up to five inches wide, maturing in 66 to 72 days. They change from green to bright red when ripe and have thick walls, perfect for canning or roasting. The flesh is tasty, and most peppers have four lobes.
Jupiter pepper plants are vigorous, known for producing high yields. The plants often reach up to three feet tall, producing dense canopies of leaves that protect the fruits underneath. These are open-pollinated, heirloom peppers.
8. Sweet Banana
Everyone needs to grow some Sweet Banana peppers in their garden. These slender, cylindrical peppers are six inches long and 1.5 inches wide, tapering to a point. Sweet Banana peppers start as a waxy yellow color and mature to red when ripe with the perfect sweet, mild flavor.
Sweet Banana pepper plants are one of the best pepper varieties if you want a compact plant. The plants reach a mature height of 18-22 inches. Despite the smaller size, these plants are highly productive, producing a large yield throughout the entire summer.
9. Sweet Chocolate
Don’t let the name fool you; these peppers don’t taste like chocolate. They get their name because the peppers turn dark red or brown chocolate once they reach full maturity. Sweet Chocolate peppers are closely related to the classic green bell pepper, but it’s hard not to love the chocolate color. They start off as green, so be patient!
Best Hot Pepper Varieties
Hot peppers have a rating on the Scoville unit from 1,500 and up. The hottest pepper – the Carolina Reaper – has a rating of 2,200,000 Scoville units!
Most people recognize the name Anaheim peppers; they’re medium to hot chili peppers that mature from dark green to crimson red when ready to harvest after 80 days. These peppers are tapered to a point, typically measuring seven to eight inches long and 1.5 inches wide with medium-thick walls.
This is one of the best pepper varieties for stuffing when ripe. They taste delicious when stuffed with meat or cheeses, but Anaheim peppers also taste great when canned, dehydrated, roasted, or fried.
These plants grow widely in California or the Southwest, but you can grow them anywhere if you have a hot summer. The plants are vigorous and measure up to 30 inches tall.
Everyone has heard of cayenne peppers – we wouldn’t have hot sauce without cayenne peppers! They have a unique look; they measure up to seven inches long but are only 1/2 inch wide. Cayenne peppers are skinny, tapered to a point, and often wrinkled.
These peppers start off dark green but brighten to red when matured. It takes up to 75 days to reach maturity. If you grow cayenne peppers, try making homemade hot sauce, but you also can dry or pickle the peppers.
Cayenne pepper plants reach up to 24 inches tall. The plants have large yields; you should definitely try growing them in your garden.
If you like hot peppers, you need to grow habanero peppers at home. You often find these at the grocery store along with other pepper varieties, but growing them at home tends to yield hotter peppers within 75 days.
Habanero pepper plants are extremely productive, reaching up to four feet tall. The peppers are small, but the plants yield large harvests. If you want an easy-to-grow hot pepper, these are perfect; the plants are so easy to maintain. They’re perfect for making a homemade hot sauce that is really hot yet delicious.
13. Hungarian Yellow Wax
Hungarian wax peppers are the ultimate canning pepper or if you want to make pickled pepper rings or cowboy candy peppers. These peppers measure up to seven inches long and 1.5 inches wide. They turn from waxy yellow to red at full maturity with firm, medium-thick walls.
Hungarian wax peppers also work great for stuffing because of their size. The plants reach up to two feet tall and set fruit for weeks. They grow well in cooler regions, unlike other hot pepper varieties, and are one of the best types of peppers for pickling and canning. Hungarian wax peppers hold their firmness well, even after canning. They’ll give you that crunchy everyone loves.
There isn’t a hot pepper more iconic than the jalapeño pepper. Most varieties of jalapeños are very hot, but some new hybrid types of jalapeños are heat-less. It takes up to 80 days for these peppers to mature, and despite what you think, mature jalapeños are typically bright red when ripe rather than the traditional dark, glossy green you see in the stores.
Jalapeño peppers measure three inches long and up to 1.5 in width. This pepper variety is traditionally used in Mexican or Southwestern dishes because most have a bit of a kick to them.
The plants reach up to three feet tall and are highly productive. Expect large yields of jalapeños, and be ready to preserve them! These peppers work great for pickling, roasting, or making hot sauce – seriously!
15. Scotch Bonnet
Scotch Bonnet peppers are like little fireballs in your garden. They look like habaneros, but the peppers are shorter and fatter. If you love spicy, Caribbean food, you need to grow these peppers.
One thing to note about Scotch Bonnet peppers take about 90 days to mature, and the plants are one of the slowest growing pepper varieties. They have to be started indoors, especially if you live in the north; they take time to grow and develop their spicy flavor.
The plants reach a maximum height of two feet, so they work great in containers. It’s recommended that you grow super-hot peppers in containers if you also grow sweet peppers. They’ll cross-pollinate, and your sweet peppers might not be so sweet!
16. Serrano Chili Pepper
Looking for a very hot pepper? Another option is to grow Serrano Chili peppers. These tabasco-type peppers are only 1/2 inch wide and 2.5 inches long, but they pack a strong punch in a small package. Serrano peppers are slender that taper to a blunt point, ripening from dark green to bright red.
Serrano Chili pepper plants typically reach a mature height of three feet tall. They’re vigorous and love to grow in hot climates, like Mexico. These chili peppers take longer to mature than other ones, needing up to 90 days, but once mature, Serrano peppers are perfect for pickling or making sauce.