Garden of Eatin' / Vegetables

A Wee Little Pepper Called Filius Blue

Filius Blue pepper

It probably sounds ridiculous to those of you swaddled in snow in other parts of the country right now, to know that also right now, my most prolific harvest from the garden are these darling chile peppers called Filius Blue.

It’s February, Punxsutawney Phil is telling us six more weeks of winter, but apparently California missed the memo. (Not that Phil’s ever been right, anyway; according to NPR, the poor fella’s only had 39 percent accuracy since he started his forecasting career in 1887.)

Filius Blue pepper plant in bloom

Filius Blue heirloom pepper

With our own weather lingering in the 70s and 80s all winter, these little peppers have been flowering and fruiting like gangbusters. Every other week I bring in another handful of deceptively tiny peppers that are so potent, a little goes a long way. That means I’ve been inundated with peppers all season long and keeping a bowl in the kitchen where I dump them all, ready for drying.

Filius Blue is an heirloom chile originating from Mexico. It’s a compact plant, growing no more than 2 feet tall with blue-tinged foliage and delicate white flowers, and because of that it makes a beautiful container plant.

Compact pepper plant

Blossoms on pepper plant

Filius Blue flowers

The peppers are very ornamental, starting out as a deep bluish-purple and maturing into an orangey-red. When young, the peppers have a lot of heat, measuring 40,000 to 58,000 units on the Scoville scale. (In comparison, a serrano pepper measures 10,000 to 23,000 Scoville units.) But as they ripen into flame red fruit, they become surprisingly milder in flavor (though they still have quite a kick).

Filius Blue peppers

Filius Blue chile pepper

Filius Blue pepper maturing into red fruit

Blue and red peppers

Mature red pepper

My plants are entering their second year and doing well, even adapting to this weird weather when I thought I’d for sure lose them during an early December cold spell. I keep them right outside my kitchen door in 10- and 12-inch pots, and they haven’t grown more than a foot tall. But they produce more peppers than I’ll ever need and seem to tolerate our occasional coastal fog and nighttime lows in the 50s. I’m a little afraid of what these plants will look like once we start getting more sun in the summer!

Container pepper plants

About Author

I'm a plant lover, passionate road-tripper, and cookbook author whose expert advice and bestselling books have been featured in TIME, Outside, HGTV, and Food & Wine. The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook is my latest book. Garden Betty is where I write about modern homesteading, farm-to-table cooking, and outdoor adventuring—all that encompass a life well-lived outdoors. After all, the secret to a good life is... Read more »


  • Brinnananda
    May 10, 2017 at 3:44 pm

    I have been using dilute urine (10 parts water to 1 part urine) in my potted pepper plants every second watering, and alternate with plain water. I use no other fertilizer. This tactic encouraged four, 1 year old, plants with tiny, starved and shriveled leaves, into producing lush foliage, new stems and flower buds. One other 3 year old pepper plant, which had been forgotten in a corner, was nearly dead with thin, spotted, dry and drooping leaves. The urine treatment brought it back to life with lush new leaves, branches and flowers. It looks like a happy youngster now. The best thing is, this fertilizer is free. 🙂

    A single pee in a gallon jug, topped off with water produces the correct ratio, (or approximate enough) gave all five plants exactly the nutrients they needed. I use an old laundry soap jug, and pee (carefully) in the opening, though I suppose one could use a plastic funnel if necessary.

    I heard about this, and decided to try it. I have been amazed at the results. Peppers seem need a lot of nitrogen. Urine supplies that and apparently enough phosphor, since there was early flowering. This rejuvenation took place during the winter when the plants are brought indoors, and was successful in spite of the lack of bright sunlight. I recognize this may seem weird to anyone but a farmer.

    • Linda from Garden Betty
      May 17, 2017 at 7:57 am

      I’ve long known about this but haven’t tried it yet. My husband used to joke that he could fertilize our entire yard by using it as his bathroom, and I would not be surprised if he’s peed around our fruit trees at some point. 🙂 Compared to all the other forms of animal waste we spread around our gardens, human pee seems hardly out of the ordinary!

  • Kelsey
    March 17, 2017 at 11:00 pm

    Can I ask how long yours took to sprout up? I started some seeds 2 weeks ago and nothing seems to be happening. I’ve never done peppers before so I’m not sure if this is normal…

  • Millette Jones
    February 4, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    What do they taste like when young as compared to later when fully matured?

    • Linda Ly
      February 4, 2015 at 2:23 pm

      They’re a little hotter when young (purple).

  • Rosemarie Thompson
    February 17, 2014 at 5:57 am

    I will be planting these for the first time this year. I didn’t know they got milder as they mature!

  • Danielle G
    February 5, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    Please tell us how you like to use the dried chiles!!

    • Linda Ly
      February 12, 2014 at 12:31 am

      Typically I rehydrate them to use in sauces and salsas, but dried I use them to infuse oils or grind into pepper flakes.

  • Isis Loran
    February 5, 2014 at 11:06 am

    What a GORGEOUS colour!! wow!! This has brightened up my day and given me garden fever. It’s -15C/5F here today!

    • Linda Ly
      February 12, 2014 at 12:25 am

      Hang in there, spring is coming!


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