Friday, December 18, 2009

Ornamental Capsicum and Chilli

Ornamental Chilli and Capsicum. These have become remarkably popular. I guess this is due to the fact that they are damn near indestructible, just watch out for Possums and grubs. Possums don’t appear to be troubled by pungency.
These plants will come into their own after Christmas as the fruit really starts to colour up. We are trying a few new varieties this season including Sangria (translation from Spanish: Bloody), Black Pearl and Calico. The Sangria hybrid has a somewhat spreading habit so we are growing it in hanging baskets. Follow the links for information on the others.
I am always asked why we differentiate ‘ornamental’ chillies. To my knowledge the only reason they are ornamental is the fruit has no flavour. Don’t confuse flavour with heat, some of the ornamental varieties are insanely hot. They just don’t have an enjoyable flavour. The varieties Sangria and Medusa are both non-pungent so they are considered safe around children.
Chilli and Capsicum (all the same thing botanically) thrive in hot, dry, well drained conditions. We usually grow them in a poly house with no shade cover. They have the stamina to handle the intense heat and direct sunlight and this environment helps keep them compact in their pots. This season we have put some larger (200mm pots) outside in the full sun and they have performed just as well. They can dry to wilting point and bounce back as if nothing has happened.

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