By Norman Winter
Horticulturist, Author and Speaker
If you would like to give your North Texas garden a festive fall atmosphere, then by all means find a prominent place to put in ornamental peppers. Their blooms are not noteworthy, but varieties like Chilly Chili and NuMex Easter have fruit that will show off as dazzling as any flower and others like Purple Flash have foliage so unique it will have you mesmerized.
Over the years I have been a participant in evaluating ornamental peppers in huge trials. Sweet Pickle was another that I found particularly thrilling. There are several I liked, but this pepper is different. It has fruit that is 2 inches long and reminds me of the big, bold Christmas tree lights we used to have before we started using miniature versions.
Many ornamental peppers are edible, and a lot of them are flaming hot. Sweet Pickle is sweet rather than hot and loads up with a bounty of red, orange, yellow and purple fruit all at one time. It is a compact plant that is perfect for the landscape or vegetable garden. Its large fruit can be seen from a great distance, making it a landscape asset.
Another that is exceptional is Garda Tricolore, which originated in the Netherlands and is hot. It, too, resembles Christmas lights but on a much smaller scale. Don’t let the word “smaller” deter you because what it lacks in size it makes up for in quantity. Garda Tricolore produces scores of peppers that start purple then change to cream, orange and red. These peppers are almost as long as Sweet Pickle but not as wide. Keep your eyes also open for Sangria. It never stops producing bounties of red and purple peppers that as the name suggests, are not hot. Its habit allows it to graceful tumble over the edge of mixed containers.
Salsa Deep Orange is another I have recently grown, it is edible and fairly hot. It is one of four single colors in the Salsa series along with two additional mixes. These are small compact plants that reach 6 to 10 inches that load up with more colorful peppers than you would ever imagine for that size of plant. They spread to about 12 inches so they make great border plants.
While some have a tendency to plant ornamental peppers in a straight line know that an informal drift or sweep will also look absolutely stunning.
To read the full story pick up a copy of the September/October issue of LiveIt magazine.