In the wide world of gardening, “ornamental” and “delicious” are two words rarely spoken in the same sentence. But the Aji Omnicolor chili pepper is just that: a beautiful bushy, multi-colored pepper plant that matures fast and produces a large amount of medium-hot peppers (30,000 to 50,000 Scoville heat units) with a delicious complex fruity flavor.
Between their surprisingly great taste, fast and heavy production, and beautiful ever-changing displays of color, the Aji Omnicolor pepper is one you should seriously consider adding to your grow list this upcoming season. Read on to learn more about my experiences with Aji Omnicolor pepper plants.
They have a slender pendant-like shape that grows fairly straight from stem to bottom tip, but you’ll occasionally get a few with a more twisted spiral-like shape.
Although Omnicolors ripen into a deep red color, the real treat is in watching all the color changes prior to this final stage. At first, the pods are a yellowish off-white color.
Early fruiting Omnicolor peppers can also develop shades of lavender and purple if the plant is receiving an abundance of sun. This is the plants natural way of controlling the amount of sunshine and heat it receives. From experience, this inherent protection works well as I saw many purple pods in the hotter summer months, but never had any problems with sun scalding or damage of any kind.
Eventually, Omnicolors transform into different shades of yellow, orange, and then finally red. Once the plant is filled with fruit in various stages of growth, it adds a beautiful sea of color to your garden and landscape.
Omnicolor chilis are surprisingly hot. With heat similar to a cayenne, Aji Omnicolor peppers range from 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville heat units. This makes them about 4 to 20 times hotter than a Jalapeno.
Like other peppers, the longer they have to develop the hotter they’ll get. However, it’s not uncommon to experience a mixed bag of heat, with a few being significantly hotter than the rest. In all, if you’re looking for a medium-hot pepper that’ll consistently make your mouth burn without being overwhelming, the Omnicolor pepper will deliver.
When you bite into a raw Aji Omnicolor there’s a delicious upfront fruity and sweet flavor that slowly turns into a spicy peppery taste, which can momently numb your tongue and lips.
Overall, it’s probably the most complex flavor profile you’ll find in an ornamental pepper. Certainly, a much better taste compared to the similarly attractive Chinese 5 Color and Bolivian Rainbow pepper.
If you grow Aji Omnicolor peppers, it’s only a matter of time before you ask yourself, “what am I gonna do with all these peppers”? Make no mistake, Omnicolor pepper plants are extremely heavy producers. The fruit itself is small, but the plants grow fast and wide, providing plenty of real estate for prolific pod growth. It’s not uncommon to harvest several hundred peppers off of a single plant.
Personally, I’ve used Omnicolor peppers for everything from a quick pizza and burger topping to a mild Mango Omni hot sauce. They can add a subtle fruitiness to Thai dishes like Coconut Curry, but are also commonly used to make dry rubs and seasonings. Just string a bunch up and you’ve got dried pepper seasoning for days!
Another great use for Aji Omnicolors is making Cowboy Candy (with a twist).
Yes, I know Cowboy Candy is traditionally made with Jalapenos. But I’ve found that the extra heat and unique fruity flavor of Omnicolor peppers tastes amazing with the sugar and vinegar base of Cowboy Candy. The longer you leave the peppers soaking in the brine the more delicious they get!
Growing Aji Omnicolor peppers from seed can be achieved in nearly any zone. Omnicolor plants start producing fast and are hearty enough to keep growing late into the season. When starting from seed, simply follow the steps outlined in our Growing Hot Peppers 101 Guide before moving into Tips on Transplanting Pepper Seedlings.
The key with growing Aji Omnicolor plants is to give them plenty of space as they tend to grow more wide than they do tall. I only gave them about 2.5 feet this year and would recommend another foot or two on top of that. Remember, they can grow as wide as 4 feet. A nice part about having them closer together (other than saving space) is that it provides some sun and wind protection to the plants and also creates a nice "sea of color" effect. The drawback is it can be difficult to harvest some parts of the plants without stepping on others or snapping branches.
Overall, we had great germination rates with our Omnicolor seeds this year and every plant put into the ground thrived late into October here in Zone 5. These were the plants featured in our Fertilizing Pepper Plants post, and the Sweet Myco Tea compost fertilizer worked wonders on their growth and final yield.
It’s not often that a pepper with such diverse beauty has the flavor and taste to match.
If you’re looking for an eye-catching ornamental pepper plant that produces hundreds of flavorful, medium-hot chilis – put Aji Omnicolor on your list for next year. Happy gardening!