Ornamental peppers display their colorful fruit through the winter The showoffs of the pepper clan (Capsicum), ornamental peppers arebred for color–not flavor.
In vivid succession, their fruits turn fromgreen to yellow to various hues of red; plants often display all threecolors at the same time. Fruit shapes range from cones to round. Inpots, they make unusual decorations or gifts.
This month, look for potted plants at nurseries and florists.Ornamental peppers in 4-inch pots cost about $1.50, in 6-inch pots $4 to$10, and in 1-gallon cans about $4. Here’s a sampling of thevarieties. (Fruits of ornamental peppers are edible, but some have afiery bite.) “Candlelight’ (shown in the larger photograph above)bears abundant 1- to 1 1/2-inch fruits that turn from green to crimsonred. Plants reach 10 to 12 inches. “Holiday Cheer’ has round fruits that turn from yellowbrushed with purple to red on 8-inch plants.
(Don’t confuse themwith the toxic fruits of Jerusalem cherry–Solanumpseudocapsicum–another holiday plant.) “Holiday Flame’ is a compact plant (to 6 inches).Slender 2 1/2- to 3-inch-long fruits turn from brilliant yellow toscarlet red, contrasting with dark green leaves. “Holiday Time’ develops bright red, 1-inch-long,cone-shaped fruit above dark green foliage; plant grows 8 to 9 inchestall.
Indoors. Treat them as short-lived house plants. Once fruitsbegin to ripen, plants will live about two to three months longerindoors. Give them bright light, as in a south- or west-facing window.Water when soil is just dry to the touch (peppers are very sensitive toover- and underwatering).
Remove fruits as soon as they begin towither. Outdoors. In mild-winter areas, set potted plants in a protectedspot, such as on a covered porch or patio. Plants can’t standconstant temperatures below 40| to 45|. For warm-weather planting, seeds of several kinds are available ($1to $2 per packet); plants mature four to six months after sowing,depending on variety. A mass of ornamental peppers such as”Candlelight’ can make a colorful bed or border from summeruntil first frost. Photo: A bright display against deep green leaves, ornamentalpeppers show off red fruits (above), yellow and red ones (below)