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Ornamental peppers

'Cappa Topfruit White/Red' ornamental pepper

‘Cappa Topfruit White/Red’ ornamental pepper

Capsicum annuum

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.

Propagation:

  • 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).

Growing:

  • 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.
On Top Round Red' ornamental pepper

On Top Round Red’ ornamental pepper

Varieties:

  • 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.

Postharvest handling:

  • 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.

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