A new pepper variety — Basket of Fire – which combines ornamental and edible variety characteristics, is the latest Texas Superstar available for purchase in retail garden centers and nurseries.
The Basket of Fire pepper variety was named a 2018 Texas Superstar plant by Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Texas Tech University horticulturalists after a year of field trials around the state.
To be designated a Texas Superstar, a plant must not only be beautiful but perform well for consumers and growers throughout the state. Texas Superstars must be easy to propagate, which should ensure the plants are not only widely available throughout Texas but also reasonably priced, said Dr. Brent Pemberton, Texas Superstar Executive Board member and AgriLife Research ornamental horticulturist, Overton.
Russell Plowman, horticulture instructor, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, and Texas Superstar Executive board member said the Basket of Fire pepper lives up to its Texas Superstar status.
“It’s typically planted in June, and they grow superbly all summer with blooms and peppers that emerge early and can last through December,” he said. “There are not many ornamental plants you can get seven months of color out of.”
The Basket of Fire pepper is an annual plant bred especially for hanging baskets, but it also serves as a good edible ornamental pepper for beds, vegetable gardens or containers, he said. It grows to 12-14 inches tall with a 20-inch spread with white, star-shaped blooms and fruit that matures from a creamy yellow to orange and finally red. Fruit sets typically last 90 days, Plowman said.
“The pepper has a low, spreading branching habit, which makes it ideal for hanging baskets or planting with other ornamental or edible plants,” he said. “You can plant it with pansies or cabbage, and it will perform well.”
Plowman said the pepper will thrive in cooler temperatures and in extreme heat and low humidity. It prefers full sun and adapts to most soils, but needs good drainage.
“The hotter it gets the more this plant likes it,” he said. “It also does better than most pepper plants in cooler temperatures, and the peppers’ colors intensify as temperatures cool. So, it’s also a good addition to any fall garden as well.”
Plowman said the pepper can produce hundreds of peppers per plant. Peppers are relatively small, 1-2 inches, with a heat rating of approximately 80,000 Scoville Heat Units, which for comparison would fall between Cayenne and Thai peppers.
“It’s a hot little pepper,” he said. “They pickle great and look great in jars with the assortment of color. It’s definitely a Superstar. It shows all the qualities an ornamental plant should have to make it in Texas.”
Texas Superstar is a registered trademark owned by AgriLife Research, a state agency that is part of the Texas A&M University System. Plants are designated Texas Superstars by the Texas Superstar Executive Board, which is made up of seven AgriLife Research, AgriLife Extension and Texas Tech University horticulturalists.
More information about other Texas Superstar plants and a list of wholesalers and retailers who stock them can be found at http://texassuperstar.com/.