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Can You Eat Ornamental Peppers?

Can You Eat Ornamental Peppers

So, can you eat ornamental peppers? Yes you can but the real question is, why would you want to.

Ornamental peppers are a type of plant that is commonly used as a decoration. Many people believe that these plants are not edible, but this is not the case.

You can eat ornamental peppers, but you should be aware of a few things first. The ornamental pepper plant is a member of the nightshade family, which includes potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplants.

This means that the plant contains alkaloids, which can be somewhat harmful if consumed in large quantities.

My father is one person that can handle the heat of ornamental peppers. Watching him and my mother work their gardens as a child, peppers were a big staple part of their diets. They still are.

And yes, these colorful, decorative pepper varieties made up a small part of that garden landscape.

And when you consider that ornamental peppers can be ten to twenty times hotter that the trusty jalapeño pepper, you can get an idea of just how hot they really are.

So, when you ask, can you eat ornamental peppers? The answer is yes but I’m not going to encourage you to eat them.

I have always been of the opinion that when you eat something that’s really hot, even the jalapeño, it takes away from the real pleasure of eating food. That’s the taste. One of these peppers will certainly make the taste buds retreat quickly.

What Are Ornamental Peppers?

What Are Ornamental PeppersAs an addition to your garden or a decorative plant around the house, ornamental peppers are a great idea.

But a word of warning. Make sure they are not in reach of children or pets like the family dog. I can relate a story about this when I was just four years old. And it involved being dared to take a bite from one of these peppers. I duly accepted the challenge.

Needless to say, it didn’t end well. A trip to the hospital and a stay of a few days.

Decide what you really want with ornamental peppers. Are you going to eat them or use them in your food? Or do you just want to grow them as a decorative piece?

If you have never grown them before, learn a little about them.

Ornamental peppers are part of the capsicum family, along with bell peppers, jalapenos, and cayennes. These peppers come in many different colors, including red, yellow, orange, purple, green, white, black, and even striped. There are actually over fifty varieties of ornamental peppers although this number seems to grow every year.

5 Favorite Ornamental Pepper Varieties

Favorite Ornamental Pepper VarietiesSome of the better know ornamental peppers include:

– The Black Pearl which is the best known and most popular.

– The Medusa (Dwarf) is preferred by people as an indoor ornamental pepper plant.

– The Masquerade is an extremely hot pepper which provides benefits as a decorative plant because of the colors the fruit morph into before they reach maturity.

– The Chilly Chili is one of the larger ornamental varieties and is also very popular.

Has a enticing aroma and is another variety that can be popular as an indoor decorative plant.

– The Tangerine Dream is one of my favorites not just for its beauty but because it’s edible and won’t burn your taste buds. Actually, there can be some mild heat on occasions but it will be popular for those looking for something sweeter. Very pretty plant.

How To Grow Ornamental Peppers

decorative chilisOrnamental peppers are easy to grow and require little maintenance. You can plant them directly in the ground or start seedlings indoors about six weeks before planting outside.

If you live in a warm climate, you might consider starting seeds outdoors in late summer. When it comes to watering, ornamental peppers don’t really need much water.

In fact, some varieties do better without water at all. However, regular fertilization helps keep plants healthy.

So let’s look at what you will need to grow your ornamental pepper plant.

If you are growing them outside, I would recommend starting them from seeds in a container first. This is because they don’t do well in cold conditions.

If your area is prone to pre-spring frosts, definitely start them in containers. The best time to plant ornamental peppers is early to mid spring.

Once you have the seedlings, look for an area of the garden that receives full sun.

Peppers love the sun. They also love a mild climate so if it drops below fifty degrees Fahrenheit in your area, then reconsider growing them inside or in containers where you can move them to a covered area at night.

Use an organic potting mix if you’re growing in a container or pot. Peppers like a rich soil so if you’re planting outside, then add some organic soil to the original ground before planting.

Plant the seedlings to a depth that is close to the first stem. Then water but don’t waterlogged the soil.

Peppers don’t need a lot of water and this is where you’ll need to use a little judgement. If it looks dry then water.

Also, plant them about six to eight inches apart so you create good airflow between plants.

Conclusion: Can You Eat Ornamental Peppers?

How To Grow Ornamental PeppersIn conclusion, you can eat ornamental peppers, but be sure to wash them thoroughly first.

Peppers that are grown for ornamental purposes may have been treated with chemicals that are harmful if ingested.

When in doubt, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and throw out any peppers that you’re unsure about.

Ornamental peppers are not only edible, but can add a nice flavor to dishes although expect some heat from them in your dish. They are also a good source of vitamins A and C.

As nutritional value, red ornamental peppers will provide the best value of vitamins A and C. Most peppers will go through a transitional period of several colors before ending in red.

If you are looking for a new ingredient to spice up your cooking, give ornamental peppers a try.

Can You Digest Ornamental Peppers
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JD Dean

Growing up on a farm gave me and my family some huge advantages. One of them was learning to grow our own food. Apart from acres and acres of crops, we had a magnificent fruit and vegetable garden plus, we canned our own food. I’m hoping to pass on some of this expertise and experience to you.

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