Medusa Ornamental Peppers Culture
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Lorene Salt
Posted on: September 29, 2003

I am not very plant savvy. My friends are bound and determined that I will grow plants (my thumbs are black!!!). My friends have given me a Medusa Ornamental Pepper. It is a very small pepper plant with multicoloured (red, yellow and orange) skinny 2-1/2" peppers on it. Will the peppers grow bigger? Can I eat or cook with them? Or should I just enjoy and admire it for as long as I can keep it alive?

Any ornamental peppers I was able to find in catalogues are dwarf varieties of hot chili peppers and are grown like them. The fruits will probably not get larger since they were selected to have lots of cute, small but colourful fruits. Their taste was not considered in the breeding programme, but they would probably be hot. However, eating the fruits would destroy the decorative value of the plants and would thus destroy their purpose.

All chili peppers are very frost tender when young, but usually tolerate light frosts when mature. They want good, but not too rich well-draining garden soil and require full sun and heat for proper fruit set. If nights drop below 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit), no fruits will set from the flowers. The plants are actually tender perennials, but are treated as annuals in the garden.

So put your plant in your sunniest window, water whenever the surface centimeter(half inch) of soil dries and only fertilize if the plant appears to get stunted. Don’t expect much growth in the winter, since it is too cold and dim in the north to stimulate the plant. In spring it should pick up its pace and would probably appreciate a summer on the patio or balcony, as the case may be. Expose it slowly to higher light levels (take at least two weeks to move it gradually into brighter light) if you put it outside to prevent burning of the foliage grown in low light.

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