To get a double show in your garden featuring both flowers and then colorful, berrylike, long-lasting fruits, go for an ornamental pepper. Unlike the bigger, veggie garden varieties, ornamental peppers have been bred to for their looks rather than flavor, even though they are edible. With a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, ornamental peppers can add season-long interest to the garden.
From little black pearls to larger cone-shaped fruits that resemble Christmas lights, the showy little fruits of ornamental peppers make stunning garden displays and are available in a rainbow of colors. They also make great additions to mixed containers and don't mind hot weather in summer.
New varieties feature novel fruit shapes and colors, and even foliage colors. Keep an eye out for varieties that may also have better habits and longer bloom times.
Ornamental Peppers Care Must-Knows
Growing ornamental peppers is as easy as growing garden vegetable peppers. They need full sun to thrive, and anything less will result in leggy plants with fewer fruits. These annuals prefer to be planted in well-drained soil. Make sure that your ornamental pepper plants don't stay too wet or they may rot in constantly moist soil. Drastic fluctuations of wet and dry can stress pepper plants and cause them to lose leaves as well as drop flower buds and young fruits. They also appreciate a slow-release fertilizer or regular liquid feed to fuel their rapid growth and fruit production.
Many varieties will benefit from an early pinching to encourage good branching at the base. (Some of the very dwarf varieties don't need this pinch, and it can actually cause the plants to have an odd habit if they are pinched, so be sure to know your particular variety's needs.) Some determinate varieties will bloom and set fruit all at once. Many of these will not bloom again after their initial fruit set, so you can treat them as a disposable plant. Others are indeterminate and will bloom and fruit continuously until frost. With continuous bloomers, make sure to remove ripe peppers. This encourages the plant to keep setting new flowers and fruits.