Hero Image

Add some Pep to your Step with Peppers

Hot Serrano Tampiqueno - SandiaSeed-sm
Hot Serrano Tampiqueno - SandiaSeed-sm
As we prepare for the Great Tomato Plant Sale (GPTS), the excitement and anticipation are mounting. Since January, our volunteers have planted over 6,000 pepper seeds! With 38 varieties on offer this year, we are confident you will find plenty of choices that capture your interest.

Your feedback is important to us. We appreciate learning about your growing challenges and successes, and especially your suggestions for new and interesting peppers. Your input helps us determine what peppers to offer, so let’s keep the conversation going. Read on to see what is new in 2024, plus bonus descriptions of a few returning favorites.

Super-Hot Peppers

Thai Dragon is a sturdy, compact plant that is hugely prolific; it can set up to 200 peppers! In addition to culinary uses, it is prized for its ornamental value: plant it in a container on your patio for eye-popping color. Thai Dragon will amp up those curry dishes and Asian stir fries with a punch of heat and a splash of color. You won’t need many, but you should have at least one.

Fatalii is one of our taller offerings. It can reach up to 36”, so be sure to provide enough growing space. With brilliant yellow peppers that shimmer in the light, Fatalii brings a welcome splash of sunshine to the garden. This pepper can handle the heat and is known to be heavy bearing. The citrusy flavor can lull you into thinking this pepper is tame but wait for it—it will hit you like a fireball! With its high heat, excellent flavor, and stunning color, Fatalii makes for a killer hot sauce.

Hot-Medium Peppers

Jalapeño Jalafuego should please all the jalapeño lovers who keep asking for the hottest jalapeno we have. This returning favorite is the pepper for you; it has an extra-fiery heat and is reported to be the hottest jalapeño available. Jalapeño Jalafuego is long (4”), plump and a beautiful, glossy green. Both crack and disease resistant, it makes a reliable addition to your pepper collection.

Sriracha YES, this is the pepper used for making the famous Sriracha hot sauce many of us know and love. Consider dedicating one or two of these plants for the purpose of making sauce. To make your own version of the famous hot sauce, make sure to let these peppers mature to deep red. Longer (5”) and narrower than a traditional jalapeño, Sriracha has a unique flavor, especially when made into a sauce.

Tampiqueno Serrano is our new introduction to the Serrano varieties. In trials, this pepper was a standout for its plump shape and glossy, deep-green skin. This little 2” pepper packs a punch; its heat level comes in at 10,000-20,000 SHU (Scoville Heat Units). This gives it a heat level hotter than a jalapeño but not on-fire hot. Serrano Tampiqueno is resistant to corking (the tan stretch lines you see on some peppers). Topping out at 18-24” tall, it is a good choice for containers. This pepper makes an excellent salsa with an EXTRA kick and is my personal choice for hot pepper jelly.

Sweet Peppers

Topepo Rosso is a pimento-style pepper with bright-scarlet coloring. With a rounder shape than a traditional pepper, it can be eaten out of hand as you would an apple. Both compact and prolific, this early-bearing pepper is tolerant of cool temperatures, making it a good choice for gardens with less sun.

Bridge to Paris comes with its own backstory. Once a hybrid known as La Paris, it was discontinued by seed growers. Thanks to the hard work of a husband-and-wife team who successfully returned this pepper to an open pollinated variety, this Italian pepper is once again available. With a reputation as being one of the best overall peppers, it is easy to grow, prolific and delicious. You will find this pepper to be staggeringly long, with few seeds and luscious thick walls. Bridge to Paris will shine in salads or grilled with a dash of fine olive oil and a sprinkle of flakey sea salt.

Lipstick How can you beat that for a fun name! A pimento style pepper with a SUPER sweet, juicy flesh, many growers report that Lipstick is truly the sweetest pepper they have ever grown. This tall (36”) superstar easily stands up to the heat of inland gardens, producing an abundance of lipstick red peppers perfect for salads, grilled as an appetizer, marinated, or preserved.

Whether you are looking for the tried-and-true peppers you rely on or are intrigued by one of our new varieties, we have something for everyone. Not sure exactly which peppers are right for you? Master Gardeners will be at the sale to help guide you and ensure you have a successful, abundant crop of peppers to share with friends and family. Check HERE for a complete list of the peppers (including full descriptions and photos) we will be offering at the sale.

Let’s get growing!

Article by Bonnie Dwyer, UC Master Gardener of Contra Costa County

Go back to Plant Sale page
We are looking forward to hearing from you CoCoMGmedia@ucanr.edu