15
September
2014

Ornamental Pepper ‘Pumpkin Pepper’

PumpkinPepper-00It’s that time of year…pretty soon farmers will be lugging their giant pumpkins to the annual weigh-in: a true sight to behold. On the other end of the spectrum, and equally interesting, in our opinion, is the ornamental ‘Pumpkin Pepper’. In classic Halloween fashion, the fruits on this unique pepper plant are disguised as mini pumpkins.

Very dark purple, almost black foliage seems tailor-made for these bright orange pumpkin-like peppers, and the plants themselves seem tailor-made for Halloween décor. Growing about 20 inches tall and producing fruit throughout the fall, they can withstand several light frosts without any damage to the peppers. The fruit actually ripens from green to red, and eventually to orange if you leave it on the plant. We suggest you do— the mini “pumpkins” will provide plenty of autumn interest as they dry.

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Crafters abound during the autumn season and they’ll scramble to get their hands on this pepper plant. Those tiny “pumpkins” just beg to be wired onto a Halloween wreath or inserted into a harvest arrangement. The best way to dry the fruit is to cut full stems and hang them upside down, or even better—hang the entire plant upside down in a dry space with adequate air circulation.

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In the landscape, fruits will naturally appear in various stages of maturity, adding a fun element of evolving color to a garden design. ‘Pumpkin Pepper’ makes an eye-catching addition to the border—the dark foliage provides contrast with bright autumn accents, like Dianthus ‘Neon Purple’ or Erysimum ‘Sugar Rush Yellow’. To really play up the black of the foliage, surround this upright selection with some ‘Sweet Caroline Raven’ or ‘Blackie’ sweet potato vine—the red/orange peppers will pop. Take the design in a different direction by using chartreuse ‘Marguerite’ for contrast and to bring out the intensity of the orange. As we discussed last week, our sweet potato vines work well together so don’t hesitate to mix varieties.

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With seasonal orange and black together in one package, this ornamental makes an attractive holiday accent in a container on its own. Still, we can’t resist planting one in an old black caldron with some creeping wire vine bubbling out over the edges. If we get a little Halloween crazy we might even add some Spilanthes ‘Peek a Boo’…

Our ornamental ‘Pumpkin Pepper’ is currently available in the 8-inch pot.

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