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Gardener's Notebook: Pick a pepper to spice up garden

Do you want to add a little heat to your container gardening?  Something a little…spicy? 
Might a pepper be in your container garden plans? (File Photo)

YORKTON - The Yorkton and District Horticultural Society is getting back to nature in a colorful way!  Consider this your invitation to come to our next meeting, which is on Wednesday, May 15 at 7PM at the Yorkton Public Library. 

Our guest speaker will be Nancy Bird speaking on Natural Dyes from Plants.  Everyone is welcome, you don’t have to be a member to attend.  Visit for full details.

This year, do you want to add a little heat to your container gardening?  Something a little…spicy?  Then this might be the year when you want to grown hot peppers in containers!

Peppers of all kinds do well in containers, but there is something about hot peppers that give a little extra bit of color and interest to container plantings.

First, the basics.  Choose a good-sized container, nothing too small.  The pepper plant might seem to fit, but you’ll spend a lot of time watering because with not much spare soil, it will dry out very quickly.  Be sure the container has good drainage, because peppers don’t like wet feet.  Use a soil-less mix or good potting soil (not garden soil which is too dense and too heavy) because this will allow air and water to go freely through the container.

Now, the fun part.  Choose a hot pepper.  If you like making salsa or jalapeno poppers, or some fiery guacamole, jalapenos are for you.  Cayenne peppers are beautiful, no need for blooms when you can have these lovely long red peppers bringing color zing to your container.  They are amazing dried and used in a variety of dishes.  One recipe we tried one year was for candied peppers, and even though both of us love the heat of peppers, this one was a bit too hot for us, but you might like it!

I read about a hot pepper called “Bulgarian Carrot”, which does indeed look like a little carrot growing on the pepper plant. But in spite of their small size, they pack a lot of heat, so be warned!  Maybe you’ve seen that pepper plant called “Easter Ornamental” that has cute little peppers in colors from red to pale yellow to mauve.  Pretty as any flowers!   

Habaneros are irregular-shaped little peppers that look like little pepper gremlins in orange or red, and they will bring lots of color to a container.  (I read about a cousin called “habanada” that look like a habanero but is very mild.  I think I’d just take their word for it, just in case!)   Scotch Bonnet are pretty orange peppers, but be wary, they are very hot!

If you are a patient gardener and are looking for a VERY hot pepper, try the Carolina Reaper.

Just to keep things in perspective, the Scotch Bonnet pepper is rated extra super hot with a

Scoville heat rating of 300,000.  The Carolina Reaper is rated at 2.2 million Scoville heat units!  And guess what: even though the Carolina Reaper was rated as the hottest in the world, I read that there is one even hotter, Pepper X.  But it sounds like seeds for this are unavailable.

The Carolina Reaper grows to the size of a small shrub, three to five feet high, so it would need a large container.  If you attended our flower show a couple years ago, you will remember that one of our members had a Carolina Reaper on display, and it caused a great deal of excitement as an intrepid cameraman, doing an interview, was brave enough to sample one pepper on camera.  This was all supervised, of course, but the reaction to the hot pepper was amazing!  Do not try this at home!

Hot peppers are great container plants, and great conversation starters!  Give them a try!  Thank you to our friends at YTW for their fine work.  Have a good week!