The pepper plant, better known by most people as just “pepper,” is a perennial flowering vine belonging to the family Piperaceae, generally cultivated for the aromatic fruit, called a pepper, that is typically dried and consumed as a seasoning and spice. The fruit itself is about 5 millimeters in diameter, red, and has a single seed, unlike all other drupes. Although pepper can be cultivated both inside and outside of the home, it is most commonly grown for its fresh fruit at harvest time. Pepper is native to Central and South America, where it is revered as the spice to top the list of favorite foods.
In addition to their use as seasonings and spices, pepper plants are prized for their flowers, which can range in color from white to pink to yellow. While flowers do not usually grow to the full width of the plant, they do grow to form a head with three to nine flowers. Most flowers look good on a window sill, in planters or on a fence post. However, you should take special care not to damage the flower by pruning too much, or clipping too deeply.
The best time of year to plant pepper flowers is from late spring to early summer, but not all varieties will flower at this time. The most popular variety is the Bell pepper, or larger Capsicum frutescens, which blooms in May and June. This plant also tends to bear large numbers of blossoms, making it more susceptible to planting problems.
Pepper plants indoors should be kept in temperatures between sixty and seventy-five degrees Fahrenheit. Keep in mind that pepper plants are very sensitive to sudden temperature changes, so make sure to keep doors and windows closed during extremely hot or cold weather. The leaves may begin to change colors as the plant begins to deal with extreme temperature shifts. It is best to keep your plants away from direct sunlight, which could cause discoloration. The leaves may turn yellow quickly if they are exposed to direct sunlight for too long.
For optimal growing conditions, choose plants that are native to your area, but have room to spread. In addition to ensuring sufficient drainage, peppers prefer healthy soils with lots of drainage, so sandy and low-lying locations are ideal. If you live in an area where winter is harsh, you will need to water your plants deeply between waterings, since water leaves the roots.
Most ornamental varieties will not produce flowers during the year, but you can still enjoy the colorful blooms of the perennial Plantains, Solanaceae. Ornamental plants are best planted from seed in the fall, since most produce berries as the year progresses. However, most people like to grow these plants from cuttings taken from the family garden.
Choose pots that have drainage holes at the bottom. This will allow for excess water draining to the ground. Plants that are grown in pots without drainage holes are more likely to develop root rot, which can be a serious problem if left untreated. If your pepper plants are going to be grown inside, make sure to place a decorative screen door between the house and the pot. Make sure your plants are kept in a cool and shady area during the hot summer months, but move them to a shaded area of your garden during the colder winter months. During springtime, it is very important to move your potted plants inside if they are going to get sun, since too much heat can damage their roots.
When you are finished flowering and starting to produce, you will want to store any fruits or vegetables you intend on eating. You should remove any dead leaves or flowers and clean off any dirt and fallen fruits. You can then store them in your vegetable garden refrigerator until you are ready to harvest your ornamental pepper. It is also important to store other edible foliage and fruit in separate containers.