September 5, 2015
One of my newest favorite groups of plants for hot summer and fall, yes I said fall, are ornamental peppers. Today I’m at the North Mississippi Research and Extension Center in Verona taking a look their trial beds. Ornamental peppers begin setting fruit as the temperatures start to heat up, and will keep producing through the fall season. It seems like ornamental peppers are continually in flower, which means it’s very common to have multitudes of peppers in various stages of coloration. Let’s take a look at a few in the trials. This first pepper is April Fool’s Day from the Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State. The fruit are displayed pointing upwards in a tangle of long pods that resemble a joker’s hat. The colors range from purple and mature to a bright orangey-red. This next pepper comes with the darker foliage, and is called Conga. The roughly triangular fruit start out as purple, and mature to an intense red. Jigsaw ornamental pepper is interesting as the fruit plays a secondary role. The real star is the foliage with its white, lavender, purple and green colorations. The Cubana ornamental peppers display their fruit on top of the bright green foliage. The fruit remind me of colorful marbles with combinations of at least six different colors. Ornamental peppers are versatile plants, with a range of sizes from short and compact to tall and bushy varieties. MSU researchers are evaluating ornamental peppers at five trial site across Mississippi. Email me for more information. I’m horticulturist Gary Bachman and I’ll see you next time on Southern Gardening.