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Celosia, ornamental peppers dress up fall gardens

News Release Distributed 09/26/14

By Allen Owings
LSU AgCenter horticulturist

HAMMOND, La. – As we enter fall, many home gardeners consider adding new plants to dress up the landscape. Two great plants for fall are celosia, which some of us also call cockscomb, and ornamental peppers.

A highly impressive celosia introduced a few years ago and widely sold at garden centers in Louisiana in the late summer is Intenz. This variety has vibrant color on spiky blooms and sought-after texture to add to mixed containers.

Intenz is versatile. You may plant it in patio containers or landscape beds. A low-maintenance plant with high appeal, Intenz celosia produces flowers for a long time in the home landscape.

Intenz prefers full to mostly sunny locations. Plant it in well-drained soil and space plants about a foot apart. In containers, add Intenz to brighten up a combination planter while adding height and texture. Water requirements are average to low.

Arrabona Red is a well-branched plumosa-type celosia with stunning new red-orange blooms. It’s a new seeded variety from PanAmerican Seed for 2015. It is one of the top 10 performing new annual plants in the trial gardens at the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station this year.

Plants tolerate drought and love the heat. An exceptionally long-blooming variety, Arrabona Red is great for tropical, subtropical and continental climates.

Twisted celosia has a unique reddish bold color that is sure to catch your eye. It is good for season long garden performance but is great in the fall landscape.

Fall is also the time for ornamental peppers. Unique, specialty plants for home landscapes, they have appealing berries and foliage. Ornamental peppers have traditionally been thought of, to some degree, as holiday potted plants, but they are enjoying increased use among home gardeners as an alternative color addition to annual and herbaceous perennial beds.

Ornamental peppers produce colorful fruit – which are actual peppers – in a wide range of sizes, forms and colors. Purple, orange, yellow, red, brown, blue and white are common. Multiple colors can appear on the same plant.

Flowering on ornamental peppers is not obvious – the fruits are the desirable feature. Plants can reach heights of 8 inches to 3 feet, depending on the variety. Green foliage is common; however, plants with variegated foliage or purplish-black leaves are also available.

It’s popular now for retail garden centers to offer and home gardeners to purchase and plant ornamental peppers in late summer through early fall for a nice color addition to the fall landscape.

When it comes to planting ornamental peppers, you should be aware of several factors. Soil pH is not critical, but slightly acid conditions in the range 5.5-6.0 are best. Plant in full sun and space plants according to the mature size of the variety chosen. Fertilizer at planting will normally last through fall. Irrigation is necessary during dry spells.

You can find many varieties of ornamental peppers, including Chilly Chili (an All-America Selection in 2002), Medusa, Little Elf, Calico, the black-leafed Black Pearl, the Explosive series, the purple-foliaged Purple Flash and Red Missile.

All ornamental peppers are heat-tolerant and will make a great addition to the late-summer and fall landscape in Louisiana. They work well with autumn, Halloween and Thanksgiving landscape themes.

You can see more about work being done in landscape horticulture by visiting the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station website. Also, like us on Facebook. You can find an abundance of landscape information for both home gardeners and industry professionals at both sites.

Rick Bogren

Last Updated: 9/26/2014 12:34:58 PM

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