When I started getting into Bonchi I’d trawl the seed websites trying to find the best types of chilli to transform and then struggle to find decent pictures or information on them. I figured I’d put all that hard work to good use and make a list of my favourite varieties including youtube videos (not my own) of them so you can get a good look at them.

Small Orange Spicy Pepper

The width and heights are the size of the plant if you grew it as a regular pepper plant rather than a bonchi. Using bonchi growing techniques you can make the size of the “fully grown” plant much smaller.

I put together a guide on choosing a variety of pepper to bonchi too for any of you that’d prefer some guidelines to choosing the best variety instead of a list of varieties.

Bolivian Rainbow

SHU: 30,000 – 50,000
Height: 50cm
Width: 50cm
Edible: Fresh and slightly salty taste.
Flower Colour: Purple
Pepper Colour: Starts out purple then transitions through yellow, orange and red.
Pepper Pod Shape: Small cone shaped pods.
Pepper Pod Size: 3cm long by 1cm wide.
Pepper Growth Direction: Up
Leaf Size: Small
Leaf Colour: Dark green and turns purple with enough light.
Growth: Compact and bushy.
Stem Length (before branching): Short.

These plants are definitely more ornamental than tasty. They don’t taste bad but I can’t find a single recipe that uses them.

Because the peppers go through multiple colours there’s a point where your bonchi will be covered in loads of gorgeous little mult-coloured pepeprs. It looks like a tiny tree covered in christmas lights.

Aji Limon/Lemon Drop

SHU: 15,000 – 30,000
Height: 100cm
Width: 70cm
Edible: Citrusy Flavour. Popular in Asian cuisine.
Flower Colour: White
Pepper Colour: Yellow
Pepper Pod Shape: Chilli shaped
Pepper Pod Size: 6cm long by 1cm wide.
Pepper Growth Direction: Initially they grow upward but hang down once they reach full size.
Leaf Size: Small – Medium
Leaf Colour: Green
Growth: Bushy.
Stem Length (before branching): Short.

Lemon drops can make beautiful bonchis and the peppers are tasty too. They can grow a bit leggy with long spindly spaced out branches so this one’s better grown in good conditions where you can encourage the growth to be more compact.

This variety has fairly large peppers compared to most of the others but in the early stages the pods point upwards then, once they’ve gotten bigger start to hang down which gives the plant a really cool canopy effect.

Numex Twilight

SHU: 30,000 – 50,000
Height: 40-60cm
Width: 20-50cm
Edible: Yes but not very tasty.
Flower Colour: White
Pepper Colour: Starts out deep purple  and transitions through yellow, orange and red.
Pepper Pod Shape: Teardrop
Pepper Pod Size: 2cm long by 1cm wide
Pepper Growth Direction: Up
Leaf Size: Small
Leaf Colour: Dark Green
Growth: Compact and bushy.
Stem Length (before branching): Short

The Numex Twilight is fairly similar looking to the Bolivian Rainbow with the multi coloured fairy light style peppers but the pods are a little pointier. These are a popular choice as they tend to be available pretty cheap from a lot of garden shops when hot pepper season starts off.

The main drawback is the fact that the peppers aren’t really useful for anything except looking pretty.

Note: I’ve seen plenty of sights claiming that these peppers are great in all sorts of foods but personally there’s a ton of peppers that are much better suited for culinary uses. 

Fish Pepper

SHU: 5,000 – 30,000
Height: 60cm
Width: 50cm
Edible: Great with seafood.
Flower Colour: White
Pepper Colour: Starts out creamy white then become striated with light green, dark green, brown and red.
Pepper Pod Shape: Chilli shaped
Pepper Pod Size: 3-5cm long by 2-3cm wide
Pepper Growth Direction: Down
Leaf Size: Medium – Large
Leaf Colour: Variegated white and green.
Growth: Tree like canopy.
Stem Length (before branching): Tall (but with topping it will branch earlier)

These peppers have a really interesting history and they’re prolific cross pollinators which’ll help you create all kinds of gorgeous varieties to bonchi.

Aside from that, the white and green variegated leaves along with the striated peppers make for a seriously stunning bonchi.

Because of the long stem and canopy like top these are a great choice for s-shaped bonchis or when you want something more tree like rather than bushy.

Bonus points for being delicious! In the olden days fish peppers were a secret ingredient for creamy seafood sauces hence the name.

Dalle Khursani

SHU: ?
Height: 100cm
Width: ?
Edible: Great for pickling or eating uncooked. Sweet flavour.
Flower Colour: White
Pepper Colour: Starts green and ripens to red.
Pepper Pod Shape: Rounded cone shaped
Pepper Pod Size: 1.5cm long by 1.5cm wide
Pepper Growth Direction: Down
Leaf Size: Medium
Leaf Colour: Green
Growth: Tree like
Stem Length (before branching): Short

This is a bit of a mystery pepper but it’s one I’m growing this year so I’ll come back and update the missing information once this seasons done.

Dalle Khursanis grow like little trees so they can make amazing bonchis if you want the tree like appearance of a traditional bonsai but with a pepper plant. The peppers are delicious and are one of the most widely used chillis in Nepal being served up as a spicy accompaniment to Dahls.

Birds Eye Chillis

SHU: 50,000 – 100,000
Height: 40-80cm
Width: 50-70cm
Edible: Yes – a great all round pepper.
Flower Colour: White
Pepper Colour: Starts green and ripen to red.
Pepper Pod Shape: Chilli shaped
Pepper Pod Size: 3-5cm long by 1-2 cm wide
Pepper Growth Direction: Up
Leaf Size: Small
Leaf Colour: Dark green
Growth: Bushy
Stem Length (before branching): Short

If you go looking for birds eye chillis you’ll come across a whole load of different kinds of them. Piri piri, Malawi, African, Thai… I love piri piri because they’re so versatile in the kitchen.

They all have slightly different characteristics but they all can be grown into lovely little bonchis.

Ring O’ Fire Cayenne Pepper

SHU: 70,000 – 85,000
Height: 40-60cm
Width: 30-40cm
Edible: Yes, a good all round pepper.
Flower Colour:
Pepper Colour: Dark green that matures to bright red.
Pepper Pod Shape: Chilli shaped
Pepper Pod Size: 10cm long by 2-3cm wide.
Pepper Growth Direction: Down
Leaf Size: Small
Leaf Colour: Green
Growth: Compact and bushy.
Stem Length (before branching): Short

Ring of fire peppers are a great all round culinary pepper and they already have that compact growth that you’re looking for with bonchi varieties. They branch early and have quite a bushy appearance which means they’re not a great choice if you want a clearly defined single trunk.

Cherry Bomb

SHU: 2,500 – 5,000
Height: 50-60cm
Width: 30-40cm
Edible: Yes, sweet tasting. Great for stuffing or pickling.
Flower Colour: White
Pepper Colour: Starts out light green and ripens to red
Pepper Pod Shape: Round
Pepper Pod Size: 2-3cm
Pepper Growth Direction: Down
Leaf Size: Small- Medium
Leaf Colour: Green
Growth: Bushy
Stem Length (before branching): Short

There’s a whole load of different types of cherry shaped peppers out there but the cherry bomb is one of my favourites for bonchi. It’s incredibly hardy and doesn’t seem to suffer from shock as much as most pepper plants. The leaves can get a little on the large size but seeing as the plants so hardy you’ll probably be able to reduce it significantly with some of the more extreme techniques used to reduce bonchi leaf size.

Aji Camba

SHU: 30,000 – 60,000
Height: 70-100cm
Width: 30-60cm
Edible: Yes, has a salty slightly sweet taste.
Flower Colour: White
Pepper Colour: Starts out white and matures through green, yellow, orange and red. Some peppers will have purple striations while they transition through stages of ripeness.
Pepper Pod Shape: Chilli shaped
Pepper Pod Size: 3-6cm
Pepper Growth Direction: Up
Leaf Size: Small – Medium
Leaf Colour: Green
Growth: Tree-like but topping can help encourage bushier growth.
Stem Length (before branching): Short

I’m a sucker for upward growing peppers on bonchis and the Aji Camba are a good option if you’re looking for a plant that grows multicoloured peppers that are a bit less squat than the Bolivian Rainbow or Numex Twilight. The plant itself is also quite different looking from it’s multi coloured brethren so you can create a very different style of bonchi with Aji Cambas.

I’m always on the hunt for new varieties so if you’ve got a favourite (or just some good suggestions) then let me know in the comments.

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