Black pepper is a perennial evergreen flowering vine. Once the main stem is established it grows many side shoots to create a bushy column. The plants form short roots, called adventitious roots, which connect to surrounding supports. Leaves are almond-shaped, tapering towards the tip, dark green and shiny above, paler green below, arranged alternately on the stems. Florets are mainly hermaphrodite, tiny, apetulous that bloom on flowering stalks known as spikes. 50–150 whitish to yellow-green flowers are produced on a spike. Fruits or corns round, berry-like, up to 6 mm in diameter, green at first but turning red as they ripen, each containing a single seed. 50–60 fruits are borne on each spike. Fruits are picked when green and immature to produce green pepper; when fully grown but still green and shiny to produce black pepper (dried for about 3 days); and when slightly riper (red) to produce white pepper (for which the fruits are also soaked to remove the fleshy outer layer). It is best grown in sun dappled areas or areas with bright indirect sun. It needs a support structure (e.g., wooden frame or prop tree). Outside of conservatories or greenhouses, they may be grown in containers as a houseplant with an attached trellis or in a hanging basket. Containers can be taken outside for the warm summer months, as indoor houseplants will not usually produce fruit. Plants are intolerant of temperatures below 50’F/10’C. This species is native to southern India and Sri Lanka. It has been used in Indian cooking since at least 2000 B. C.
Height – Vining, 10-15ft total.
Sunlight – Filtered sun, bright indirect sun.
Growth rate – Slow to Moderate. Ideal Trellised Container plant.
Drought Tolerance – Average moisture, avoid water logging.
Harvest time – Year round.
Years to Bear Fruit – 3rd to 4th.
Evergreen or Deciduous – Evergreen.
Chill Hours – None.