The Q&A Archives: Ornamental Chili Peppers

Question: I purchased a few stalks of chili peppers for Christmas. Their beauty was remarkable as they dried and wrinkled. We still have them on display and I took a series of photos to create 'a chili pepper medley' triptych.
I cannot find them in stores so I took one pepper and the seeds then planted them in a plant box. Some greens sprouted with seedlike tips.
Question: how do I care, feed, and water them to use as an ornamental plant?

Answer: Solanum capsicastrum, ornamental pepper plants, are sometimes called Jerusalem Peppers. They thrive in bright light (some direct sunshine if possible), moist potting soil, and high humidity which you can supply with frequent misting of the leaves.

Since your plants are off to a good start, continue to water when the soil just starts to dry out, and feed every 2-3 weeks with a half-strength dilution of liquid fertilizer. To make the plant bushy, pinch it back after it has developed several stems. New shoots will form below the pinched tip and these stems should develop white flowers during the summer months. Fruits are about 1/2 inch in diameter and change from green to orange-red in the autumn. The fruits will remain on the plant for several months if you keep the plant in a cool area after the fruits have changed color.

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