If you follow our blog – you know from time to time we talk about our love and use of ornamental peppers at our little farm. Today, I wanted to take the time to really showcase the beauty, versatility and durability of the plants for use in the home and garden landscape.
This year – we placed a large mass planting at a corner stone bed as you enter the farm. It is almost always the first thing that a visitor to the farm will comment on. It usually starts with : “What kind of plant’s are those?” – followed by – “I’ve never seen those before!”
Each year – we continue to find more uses in our landscape for the ever-expanding varieties of ornamental peppers – with great results. We use them in planters, hanging baskets, and plant them in mass plantings right in the ground – all with good success. In addition to being beautiful plants – they are much more animal, bug, heat and drought resistant than any of the other annual flowering plants that we use.
Of all the different variety of hanging baskets and planters we have – the ornamental peppers are the ones that are the last to show any kind of water or heat damage throughout a hot day. Everyone knows that look of a hot and thirsty planter that starts to droop and wilt in the hot mid-day summer sun. Our ornamental peppers all stand proud and beautiful – their leaves upright even during the hottest of the scorching days we had in late June and early July.
When planted directly in the ground – you can use ornamental pepper plants as a single accent plant to add a splash of color – or plant in mass to become a focal point of your landscape. They really are an amazingly versatile plant.
So….Are they edible? Some, like our Poinsettia peppers are – in fact – if you like incredible fiery little hot peppers to light up a chinese dish – they are a great choice. I can say that from experience – I “field tested” one last week and nearly choked to death from the heat 🙂 Another great use for the Poinsettia is to soak and infuse into olive oil for a hot pepper oil to use when cooking.
Others, like the Sangria, really have zero taste, But their beauty in landscape beds, pots and hanging baskets is incredible – and you can use the multi-colored peppers in glass bottles or containers with vinegar to make incredible table pieces.
So why so slow to catch on?
Each year you see a little more publicity for the ornamentals…but I am convinced one of the reasons they haven’t caught on is the length of time it takes to get the colorful blooms on the plants. If you start the seeds in late February like normal annuals – it takes until mid to late June to get your first pepper blooms.
We actually planted our seedlings this year in mid January to speed up the process of blooming and had our first blooms of peppers in mid to late May – right alongside our other annuals first blooms. The length of the early wait is more than made up for the length of pepper blooms you get to enjoy. The ornamental peppers are the last to “frost out” and usually hold their color into late October, long after the blooms of Impatiens, Petunias and other annuals have disappeared.
Seed starting is a breeze as well – we simply save and dry out the seeds from the largest peppers each year to use for next years seed stock.
So as you think about next year’s garden and landscape – try a variety or two of an ornamental pepper to liven it up!