An heirloom pepper dating to the 1800's and early 1900's. As the story is told, this pepper was once extremely popular in African American communities near the Baltimore and Philadelphia area. The spicy little peppers were used to season local fish and shellfish. Along with its well-appreciated flavor, the plant is also notable for its beautiful variegation. Leaves and fruits are variegated. The peppers grow to 2-3", and are tapered, ripening from green to orange, brown and red. In full fruit, this plant is one of the prettiest peppers for the garden.
Days to Maturity
East Coast of the United States, mid to late 1800's.
Start seeds in small containers from 8-10 weeks prior to the last frost date. Plant seeds approximately 1/4-1/2" deep in moist, well drained potting soil. Most standard soil mixes are suitable for pepper seeds. Soil temperature must be kept at 75-90F for proper germination. Cool soil, particularly at night can inhibit or significantly delay germination. To keep soil temperature warm, start seeds indoors, in a greenhouse and/or use a seed starting heat mat. Keep soil moderately moist, though not overly, dripping wet. Water soil when the soil surface just begins to dry. Allow proper air circulation for containers.
Optionally, seeds can be dipped in a dilute hydrogen peroxide mix (1 tsp hydrogen perioxide per cup water) for one minute to disinfect seeds prior to planting. If your soil or seed setup is susceptible to mold growth this can be useful to kill mold spores.
Once seedlings have sprouted, keep in small containers until a few sets of leaves have developed. Transplant to larger containers or outdoors. If transplanting outdoors, make sure to harden off seedlings by exposing them to only filtered sunlight for up to 1-2 weeks. Thin plants to 3-4 ft and rows to 6-10 ft.
Estimated germination time under optimal conditions: 2-6 weeks