Ornamentals to Brighten the Fall Garden Palette
By Rosalie Marion
October 1, 2009
coming soon, imagine two spirited new pepper varieties making an appearance in
your neighborhood as well. The new pepper cultivars have been released by the
Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and
are trademarked Lil Pumpkin and Pepper Jack.
These plants are scheduled to become available in time to add seasonal
interest to next years fall gardens during the Halloween and Thanksgiving
The peppers were bred by ARS plant geneticists
Griesbach, both at the
A. Wallace Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC) in Beltsville,
Md. Stommel works in the ARS
Improvement of Fruits and Vegetables Laboratory, and Griesbach is a former
researcher with the
Floral and Nursery Plants Research Unit.
Lil Pumpkin has unique black foliage and orange pumpkin-like fruit.
Pepper Jack bears greenish-black foliage and a mix of orange and black, small,
cone-shaped fruit, similar to the ever-popular Halloween candy corn.
The breeders developed Lil Pumpkin and Pepper Jack with both
ornamental and culinary markets in mind. The peppers vibrant colors and
unique shapes provide enticing ornamental interest, and their spicy flavor may
be of culinary interest to hot-pepper lovers.
Lil Pumpkin and Pepper Jack join a long list of popular ornamental
vegetables that includes kales, lettuces, sweet potatoes and eggplants, as well
as culinary counterparts such as multicolored Swiss chard, orange watermelons,
purple snap beans and purple asparagus.
The new ornamental garden vegetables can be grown as bedding plants and in
containers, and they will be marketed in pots as annuals. Similar to culinary
peppers, ornamental peppers perform best in high light and warm temperatures,
according to the breeders.
Lil Pumpkin and Pepper Jack have been licensed for retail sale by
McCorkle Nurseries, Inc., in
Dearing, Ga. They are scheduled to become available in various garden centers
and retail stores nationwide in 2010.
more about this research in the October 2009 issue of Agricultural
ARS is the principal intramural scientific research agency of the
U.S. Department of Agriculture.