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Peppers are hot for summer landscape
One of the latest trends in landscaping is to plant vegetables that provide ornamental interest, and peppers get my vote as one of the best choices.
The overall impact and adaptability of ornamental peppers was recognized in 2010, when Purple Flash pepper was named a Mississippi Medallion winner. Purple Flash ornamental pepper is one of the showiest peppers available today. The purple and white variegated leaves are visible from across the garden. Closer inspection reveals the leaves opening up white with purple ribs. As the leaves mature, they gradually become darker purple.
Most pepper flowers are white and inconspicuous, but the Purple Flash’s flowers are purple. They certainly add landscape interest. They produce fruit that start out about 1/2 inch in diameter and resemble marbles. At first, fruit are dark purple but later mature to a bright red color. Purple Flash will grow to almost 15 inches tall with a 21-inch spread by the end of the season.
Another superb garden performer has been the Masquerade ornamental pepper. This variety will grow up to 12 inches tall and wide. This size is perfect for planting along walkways and adds a touch of color to more formal planting designs. Masquerade pepper also makes a good choice for massed plantings when spaced about 8 to 12 inches apart.
The Masquerade ornamental pepper’s fruit are initially a bright violet. The fruit transition to yellow and orange before turning bright red. The fruit are held above the dark green foliage, allowing for easier viewing of the changing color display.
It is best to plant as soon as you can in the late spring or early summer. Unlike the flowering annual bedding plants, ornamental peppers will not be very colorful at this point. But getting them in the ground early will allow the root system to get established. Peppers will start to emerge as the temperatures begin to warm up and will keep appearing through the fall. One of the best ornamental qualities is the fruit all at different stages of color development.
There are many varieties available on the market. Sizes range from small to shrublike. Plant ornamental peppers in the full sun for best color development. Keeping the planting beds consistently moist will allow for optimum plant growth.
It wouldn’t be fair not to mention that the fruit of ornamental peppers are hot, so taste with caution. Whatever size you choose, ornamental peppers will not let you down with their vigorous growth and color display during the hot and dry summer season and beyond.