Plants bearing small, brightly colored fruits can make decorative displays in the fall. There are a number of attractive, tall pepper varieties with these properties that can be grown in a high tunnel for this purpose.
- Peppers have relatively large seeds, and should be buried one quarter to a half in. deep for optimal germination.
- Seed takes 1 to 2 weeks to emerge at 65 to 75 F, but may take 6 to 8 weeks to be ready for transplanting.
- Seedling trays of 72 to 128 cells are adequate for transplant production.
- Pepper plants are frost-sensitive and need to be raised in warm conditions (65 to 75 F).
- Ornamental peppers grow well in warm tunnels, but still require nearly 4 months to get plants with mature colored fruits.
- Stem strength usually suffices to obviate the need for trellising.
- Most tall varieties grow well at a 12 x 12 in. spacing.
- Pinching out the main stem, leaving about 6 nodes has little effect on earliness or stem length, but removes the main shoot, which tends to be short.
- The crop gets few insect and disease pest problems aside from aphids late in the season.
- Recent breeding and selection efforts have resulted in a number of new, tall varieties with fruits well displayed.
- Fruits range in mature color from white, yellow, orange, red, to almost black.
- Fruit shapes vary from round to conical to long and pointed.
- Several long branches can be harvested from each plant, especially after pinching.
- Branches are harvested when the fruits have reached mature color.
- Leaves should be removed for they are hard to maintain in a turgid state.
- Leaf removal can be manual, or aided by putting the plants in a hot box, in which the uprooted plants are stored in a dark, humid environment at 80 to 90 F for several days.
- Stems can be dried and the fruits retain color for several months.
For additional information, see the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers listserv.