Peppers: They’re Not Just for Eating

Peppers are often the spotlight of a summer vegetable garden, but they can also shine in your container arrangements.

Ornamental peppers have beautiful foliage and stunning fruits. The fruits are edible, but usually don’t have as much flavor as other garden varieties. They are primarily desired for their bright colors and compact fruits.

Summer Outdoor Arrangements

Peppers are ideal for late summer and early fall because they enjoy heat and have a rather long growing season. Try incorporating some in your summer arrangements for unique and attractive late summer color. If fall approaches early in your climate, you can also bring ornamental peppers indoors and place them in a sunny spot.

Care Needs

Peppers require full sun and evenly moist soil. Peppers should receive plenty of water, but make sure the container drains well and never stays soggy. For best results they should be fertilized monthly. Guide To House Plants suggests that fertilizer formulated for tomatoes will also work well for ornamental peppers.

Pinching

You can pinch pepper plants to encourage more and better quality fruits as well as a bushier plant. Garden Guides suggests pinching off the blossoms when it is first transplanted as a seedling. You can also pinch off a few branches all the way around the plant to encourage more foliage to grow. Pinching branches can be done every few weeks throughout the growing season, but pinching blossoms should only be done when the plant is first transplanted.

Varieties

Black Pearl Ornamental PepperSouthern Living recommends the ‘Black Pearl’ variety. It has dark purple-black leaves and small, shiny, round fruits. The peppers turn from a dark black to a bright red as they mature. This plant loves the sun and is drought tolerant. Southern Living warns that the peppers are edible, but fiery hot.

The ‘Calico’ pepper is suggested by Better Homes and Gardens. This plant has interesting foliage. It boasts green leaves with purple and white splotches. The ‘Calico’ produces small hanging fruits that start purple and mature to red. At maturity the plant is about a foot tall and 16 inches wide, making it ideal for containers.

SFGate Home Guides describes ‘Masquerade’ peppers as being a “bushy plant that ranges from 10 to 12 inches high.” It produces 2 1/2 inch fruits that start as bright green, but turn purple yellow, orange and then red as they mature. This is a very brightly colored variety.

‘Explosive Blast’ is true to it name. It produces thick clusters of brightly colored upright peppers. They range in color from yellow to orange to bright red. OnlinePlantGuide.com provides pictures of ‘Explosive blast’ loaded with flashy fruits.

Companion Plants

There are many more varieties of ornamental peppers that have conspicuous upright fruits and produce prolifically. You can grow the peppers in their own containers or pair them with other plants that love the sun. Purple basil is an edible that will be a stunning foliage complement to any of the more purple tinged varieties of ornamental peppers. Basil is an especially ideal companion plant because like the pepper it loves the sun and heat.

What are your favorite ornamental edible varieties? What do you plant in outdoor containers that can withstand the late summer heat?

Photo “Black Pearl Ornamental Pepper” courtesy of Allen Sheffield. 

Fiberglass Planters

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