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Southern Gardening All Year Long

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September 25, 2022

When the summer heats up and other landscape plants start the fade, I can always count on dark leave ornamental peppers to be great garden performers. Let me show you. Purple flash, which was chosen as a Mississippi Medallion winner for 2010, is an example of the versatility and value of dark leave ornamental peppers. This pepper has purple and white variegated leaves. Take my word for it, purple flash is one of the showiest, or should I say flashiest ornamental peppers on the market. A new ornamental pepper variety released in 2018 is midnight fire. This plant has a compact bushy growth habit and unique and distinctive dark black foliage. The plant is accented by abundant, dark purple fruit, which mature to bright red. The contrast between the foliage and the fruit is an eye catching combination in any garden. Another favorite is black pearl. No! Not that black pearl. This black pearl is an all-America selection that is covered with clusters of shiny black round peppers that mature to brilliant red as the season progresses. This plant will grow to about 20 inches tall and 12 inches wide. And onyx red is another all-America selection that is adorned with eye-catching dark foliage. The color contrast between the foliage and the abundance of shiny black and round red fruit is striking. I'm always asked if the fruit of ornamental peppers are edible. They are, but extremely hot. So be careful. I'm MSU Extension Horticulture specialist, Gary Bachman, and we'll see you next time on "Southern Gardening."

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