What Are Black Pearl Peppers and Why Should I Plant One?

Some of you may have noticed as you strolled through the Gardens at Witherspoon a unique purple plant “peppered” throughout the grounds. All puns aside, this small addition of Black Pearl Peppers to the rose garden packs a huge punch in controlling the spider mite population that tends to sky rocket as the weather heats up.


Black Pearl Peppers Ready for the Rose Garden

Spider Mite damage begins to appear when we enter the driest portion of the summer as roses are heat stressed already and mite populations explode in the heat. These mites live on the undersides of the leaves, live by sucking nutrients and moisture out of said leaves, and build a wonderful protective webbing over themselves while they snack on your roses. Mites are difficult to see with the naked eye, but the yellowing


Spider Mite Damage

dried up leaves will give them away. Because of the protective webbing they build around themselves, conventional insecticides are rarely effective at controlling the spider mite population. Over the past few years, Witherspoon has implemented the use of predatory mites as biocontrol agents for controlling spider mite populations in the gardens we service as well as our own garden. We wanted to go a step further and create an environment which naturally hosts beneficial insects that will work with us to keep our gardens healthy and beautiful. Enter the Black Pearl Pepper.



Black Pearl Pepper

What exactly is a Black Pearl Pepper? An ornamental pepper with brilliant purple flowers, which stand out against the dark purple leaves, that turn into clusters of purple peppers which mature to bright red.  Just don’t eat the peppers. This pepper weighs in at 30,000 Scoville Heat Units, which is 10 times hotter than a jalapeño! Besides being one of the most beautiful plants in our garden, except for the roses of course, it is also a host plant to a minute pirate bug Orius Insidious. Orius is a hard working beneficial insect that feeds on spider mites, aphids, and thrips.  Three pests which plague our rose gardens every growing season. By planting a few of these gorgeous peppers around the garden we are creating a hospitable environment for Orius to live and feast.


Introducing these biocontrol methods will begin to create a natural balance within the rose garden. We hope to alleviate the dependency on broad spectrum insecticides and move toward a beneficial insect friendly approach.

Want to add Black Pearl Peppers to your garden?
All companion plants, including
Black Pearl Ornamental Peppers, will be
Buy 1 Get 1 FREE June 15-29, 2016!

In store only – Free plant of equal or lesser value


4 thoughts on “What Are Black Pearl Peppers and Why Should I Plant One?

  1. i enjoyed reading your article about black pearl peppers. i had no idea they were good for keeping spider mites in check. thank you so much for this info.
    and by the way, if one saves a few of the peppers, they are easy to start from seed early in the spring indoors before moving out. or one can just bust open some of the old pepper pods that lasted thru the winter and make shallow holes or just throw them around on top of the soil and mess it up a bit. i’ve had this plant for many years and think it is just delightful. also the peppers are edible smushed up and put into sauces or for a very few, they pop them in their mouth. i think those friends are crazy. .


    • The numbers that I am aware of are for a production space. That ratio is 100 pepper plants per 1 acre of production space. Most residential gardens are not going to have that volume of roses, so I would venture to say that a nice grouping of 3-5 plants or a few containers spread around would be sufficient to provide the Orius a nice place to come home to at the end of the day. Sorry I don’t have a specific rose:pepper ratio, but I hope this gives you an idea!


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