Growers and garden centers are always on the lookout for Poinsettia alternatives. Points make up the vast majority of potted flowering plants sold this time of year, but other crops are gaining ground. Due in part to the popularity of All-American Selection (AAS) winner ‘Black Pearl,’ there’s been an explosion of ornamental pepper varieties. Most are pretty versatile – can be used as bedding plant, in containers, and as a potted flowering plant. Edible? Depends on your threshold for pain.
I took these photos during an August visit to the immense trial gardens of Rakers (Litchfield MI). They had at least 30 varieties of ornamental pepper, and many look very similar. Hopefully I’ve got these labeled correctly…
‘NuMex Twilight’, bred by the folks at the Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State, has been around for a while. There were lots of look-alike cultivars in the trial. But they all resemble Christmas lights!
‘Sangria’ peppers start purple then ripen bright red.
I believe this one is ‘Pretty in Purple.’
I think any of these would be very gift-able for the holidays. Dressed up with a nice 5" clay pot and a raffia bow…would you buy an ornamental pepper for decor or a gift?