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Hot Ornamental Peppers

September 8, 2019

I have to admit that when the heat is on in late summer, my favorite garden plants are peppers, the ornamental variety. They stand up to the temperatures when other plants are wilting away. What I love about ornamental pepper is the variety available. They’re big or small; have colorful foliage; and feature a kaleidoscope of fruit colors, all at the same time on each plant. Chilly Chili ornamental peppers, a 2002 All-America Selections winner, have wildly colored upward pointing attractive fruit. The fruit changes color from yellow to orange and matures at red. Extremely heat tolerant, and unlike other ornamental peppers Chilly Chili fruit are not hot. Purple Flash ornamental pepper is one of the showiest available and was named a Mississippi Medallion winner in 2010. The purple and white variegated leaves are promptly seen from across the garden. The attractive fruit starts as dark purple “marbles” and matures to a bright red color. The variety Sangria holds its slender fruit pointing upward boastfully as if getting ready for a party. This pretty ornamental pepper bears fruit that resembles confetti. Young fruit emerge greenish yellow, then march through a wonderful parade of colors —orange, purple, and finally on to a glorious red. A question I frequently get is “Are the fruit of ornamental peppers edible?” The answer is yes, but just remember most are fiery hot. I’m horticulturist Gary Bachman and I’ll see you next time on Southern Gardening.

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