Another ornamental crop harvested for its attractive fruit-bearing stems, this species is a relative of eggplant, and shares some of its diseases and insect pests.
- Crop is raised from seeds in 72- to 128-cell trays.
- Seed does not require light for germination, and should be covered with 1/4 in. of medium.
- Transplant growth duration is about 6 weeks.
- Similar to ornamental pepper, the crop is mature in about 4 months after transplanting in a high tunnel.
- At a 12 x 12 in. spacing, plants will have a stem length of 30 in., and will require staking or support to prevent bending down of the branches.
- Plants are attractive to spider mites, which can cause defoliation unless controlled.
- Stem yields are similar when pinched as when left unpinched.
- We have tested only two varieties so far: a spiny, earlier variety with relatively thin, dark-red stems and orange fruits, and a sturdier, later spineless variety with green stems and darker red fruits.
- Plants are grown until the fruits are fully colored, and then harvested either with fruit attached, or the fruits harvested and used separately as ‘miniature pumpkins’.
- Defoliation is easier than with ornamental pepper because there are fewer, larger leaves.
- Dried fruits retain color and shape for several months.
For additional information, see the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers listserv.