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Red peppers' still green

By Staff
July 22, 2001
Dear Gardener,
I planted a specific variety of peppers in my garden this year that promised to be red. The peppers are pretty large and still green. What happened?
Dear Reader,
What the tag on the plant you bought failed to tell you was that red peppers, yellow too for that matter, are actually green peppers that have been allowed to ripen. There are different varieties of course. Also some different colors may be seen during intermediate stages on specific varieties. These colors include chocolate, orange or even purple.
Allowing the peppers to ripen on the vine actually increases their sweetness and nutrients. Red and yellow peppers contain more of vitamins A and C than their green counterparts.
There is a down side to only picking ripe peppers. Once a pepper plant is allowed to fully ripen its fruit, it will stop producing. One solution to this is to set out enough plants to allow some to ripen and some to continue producing. You could also just stop picking peppers about forty-five days before first fall frost. This would ensure that the last of the peppers have time to ripen. Also, be aware that ripened peppers have a shorter shelf life.
Dear Gardener,
I recently read that a Mandevilla vine could be pruned back to keep it compact in a container. I tried this on mine, but now it has stopped producing blooms. How do I make it start blooming again?
Dear Reader,
The problem has most likely arisen from the point at which you pruned. If you pruned back too far the plant is trying to recover its long shoots on which the blooms appear.
The proper way to prune a Mandevilla is to pinch back the growing tips. This means taking out the very tip of the vine. Though, for the best bloom results the vine should be allowed to grow freely if at all possible.
Drenching with a good water-soluble fertilizer twice a month should help also.
Dear Gardener,
I have a couple of hanging baskets full of verbena. I have been deadheading faithfully. Going out every morning with my coffee, I would remove the flowers that were past their peak. I did not think I would have any problem resuming my task upon my return from a week's vacation, but I did. I am having a hard time distinguishing between the old flower stems and the new unopened flowers. Help!
Dear Reader,
First of all, I am glad to know that you are keeping up with deadheading. There is not any better way of assuring a constant supply of new flowers.
Now lets get to your dilemma. Look closely at the flowers on your verbena. The flowers that have already bloomed should have thread-like things coming out of them. These are the stamens from the flower structure. These will not be noticeable on the unopened flower buds.
Happy Gardening.
Amelia O'Brian, a native of Meridian, holds a bachelor of
science degree in horticulture from Mississippi State University. To submit a question, write From the Potting Bench, c/o The Meridian Star, P.O. Box 1591, Meridian, MS 39302. Or, visit her on the Web at www.thepottingbench.webprovider.com.