Ornamental Peppers

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Photo above compliments of “<a href=”https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Piment_fort.jpg#/media/File:Piment_fort.jpg”>Piment fort” by Atilin” title=”User:Atilin”>Atilin – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Commons.

One of my latest posts was about incorporating Crossandra (or Firecracker Plant) into your fall décor. Today, I’d like to give you another idea to consider in addition to, or, instead of, using mums to give the ambience of autumn around your home.
Ornamental peppers.

Most ornamental peppers grow fruit naturally in the vibrant red, orange and yellow hues we associate with fall. Oftentimes, the fruit will transition from one color to the next as it matures, giving us a nice change of scenery with each plant. In addition to the traditional green of the leaves and fall colors of the peppers, shades of purple can be found as well in the fruit and in some varieties, the leaves are also tinged purple. Personally, I think the purple-hued plants look great with white and gray brick homes or as live decorations for Halloween.

Ornamental Purple Peppers

Photo above compliments of https://www.etsy.com/listing/164079432/chili-pepper-masquerade-hot-pepper-can?ref=related-1

There are a couple of differences between ornamental peppers (Capsicum annum) and those grown for food purposes. First of all, while ornamental peppers can be eaten, they are not bred for taste and will either be far too hot to enjoy or unpalatable in another way. Also, because ornamentals are grown for non-edible reasons, it is very possible systemic pesticides/agents may be used in their development – something which we hope is highly monitored or preferably not used at all on our pepper plants used for produce. Secondly, ornamental peppers are bred to produce “bunches” of fruit in an upright manner so that the peppers are much more visible. Non-ornamentals produce their fruit hanging downward and it is typically dotted throughout the plant.

I will take this opportunity to say that while this post is about incorporating ornamental peppers into our landscape, I have found the brightly colored fruits of red jalapenos, yellow bananas, purple bells and orange habaneros beautifully dot the greenery within my vegetable garden during summer and early fall.  Food is certainly pretty, too!

Similarities of ornamentals and garden peppers fall within their basic behavior and care. Pepper plants in general enjoy lots of sun, warm weather and good soil drainage. I read that a good rule of thumb is to water your pepper plant thoroughly once a week unless you’ve experienced rain – and then you should skip until a week has passed without precipitation. The soil should become dry between waterings.  And, if you plan to bring your ornamental pepper indoors or chose to enjoy it there from the beginning, I would see that it is placed near a bright sunny window facing south or west. Northeasterly windows may prove to be too cool and not allow enough direct sunshine.  After the outdoor season has passed and/or the fruit has dried on your indoor plants, it is best to start anew next year. Ornamentals may not bloom a second year and edible pepper plants planted in ground are pretty much considered annuals unless you live in Mexico or further south.

Ornamental Peppers

Ornamental Peppers

So, while I am using Crossandra to “autumn-ize” our part shade, northern facing front yard this fall season, I am using both rich mums and ornamental peppers on my southern patio to give the ambience of fall there. The peppers receive an abundance of sunshine and if I’m careful, they will not get overwatered in the airy coconut fiber-lined basket. I kindof like the look of hot peppers under the Texas stars . . . fitting it seems!

Until next time,
Cindy

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