Kitchen Gardening

Fish Peppers are Edible and Ornamental

Whether you have to be a small-space gardener or garden on a small scale by choice, it makes sense to grow plants with more than one feature.

Every summer I fill my container vegetable garden with plenty of new-to-me pepper varieties. Some are sweet bell peppers, but the majority are hot chile peppers because I’ll never stop searching for the new must-have favorite.

To attain that status, a chile pepper plant has to provide more than tasty peppers with just the right amount of heat. It has to be a beautiful ornamental plant, too.

Many chile pepper plants rate high on the taste and heat factor, but it takes a special pepper plant to also score as an ornamental.

This year’s winner in my small-space garden is an heirloom hot pepper plant with the funny name of ‘Fish’. The hot pepper gets its name from being used to season fish and shellfish recipes in the 1940s, although the pepper may actually date to the 1800s.

This container pepper plant has grown to 30 inches tall and almost as wide. The foliage is spectacular, each leaf green with white touches, making this as ornamental as it is functional.

The pepper pods start green with white stripes, then ripen to orange with brown stripes. When fully ripened the pods will be red.

I’m looking forward to trying the peppers in every stage of maturity from fresh to dried. I’ve heard they are fairly hot, like a cayenne pepper.

Seeds are available from several online sources, although I bought this as a transplant early in the season. It grew quickly even before I planted it and it was taller than most pepper plants when I placed it in a 5-gallon container.

Besides being a standout for its looks and the amount of peppers it’s producing, this pepper is growing on a sturdy stem that hasn’t needed staking.

These ‘Fish’ pepper plants are so striking, they’d make a nice addition to a front-yard ornamental garden bed, too.

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