Prairie Fire ornamental chili
Countless small chillies of about 2 cm in length form on the mini chilli. These ripen from light green to red. They have a good pungency and, unlike many other ornamental chillies, they still have taste.
If the botanical name “annuum(yearly)” is used, the plant should die after one year. Our Prairiefire’s usually bear fruit for 3 years before they finally die. Prairie Fires are like all chillies not frost resistant. Outside the small chili plants would inevitably die in autumn. In our house the little ones grow all year round in the kitchen, as they do not take up much space. It is also very productive. Unusually for Capsicum annuum plants the fruits stand almost vertically in the air. This is usually the case with Capsicum frutescens species, whose most famous representative is the Tabasco chili.
As the name suggests, Prairie Fire grows in the steppes in the south of the USA. In order for the cowboys to be able to supply themselves with sharp pods on their cattle drives, they have created so-called Chili Trails1. These stretch from the south of the USA all the way to Mexico. Texas could be described as the country of origin of Prairie Fire. Since the Great Plains extend over a total of ten US states, the origin could also be Oklahoma, New Mexico or Arkansas. Unfortunately the exact origin is unknown.
Severity and Scoville
The little red chillies are really something. As a rule, the fruits, which have plenty of seeds, have a sharpness level of 9 or about 70,000 scoville. Outliers even manage a mild degree of sharpness of 10.
The sharpness is immediately full there. Some chillies only slowly build up the sharpness in the mouth. Prairie Fire definitely starts to burn hard right away. This is due to the composition of the capsaicinoids. In this Capsicum annuum chili variety, the pungent capsaicin has an excellent effect.
The chillies can be used very well fresh or dried. Most ornamental chilies have relatively little taste of their own. With these pods you can still taste something fruity. But what we like very much is the fast, dry pungency. It invites to spice up dishes, but also thinly sliced for salsa or salads. Dried, the taste becomes more intense. Then it goes well as an authentic spice with chili con carne.
Prairie Fire chilli plants
The plants grow only about 20 cm high and develop a broad, bushy crown. This then has a diameter of about 30 cm. Due to its compact growth, the Prairie Fire Ideal is suitable for the apartment, balcony or as ground cover in a chilli bed.
Maintenance is relatively uncomplicated. Loose soil, little water and plenty of light is important. The small bushes are relatively robust against wind, weather, diseases and pests. Of course this does not mean that the plant does not need any care. In the USA the plant is also known as Christmas Pepper. The reason is that the plant looks like a Christmas tree with its colourful fruits and because it is often brought as a Christmas present. With such varieties, robust varieties are usually given away as presents, so that the plants remain green for a long time when the recipient receives them.
If you want to put the plants outside, it is best to start growing them in February. About 6 weeks before the ice saints in mid May. Frost is not to be expected after this time.
Indoors you can grow the Prairie Fire at any time. It is best to grow it under artificial light in the dark season.
Reliable is the cultivation in a heated greenhouse. Coconut source tabs have proven to be the best growing substrate.
Ideally, the temperatures of your propagation greenhouse can be regulated. Then set it between 25°- 28 °Celsius. We usually use 27° and thus have a germination rate of 95%. After 8 to 14 days your seeds will start to germinate.
They will then form next to the first two cotyledons, real leaves can be repotted.
Chillies like it warm and sunny. In the dark winter months, plant lamps help to boost growth. The room temperature should not be below 18 °C.
A loose soil, enriched with some fertilizer, ensures healthy growth.
We have already written about different soils in another article. Tomato soils are a good choice for pepper plants. Both are nightshade plants with similar demands on pH and soil properties. Please also read the article on the correct watering of chilli plants.
From the day the flowers are pollinated, it takes about 80 days for the pods to change colour. This happens from a pale green to cream yellow to orange and finally to red. We usually leave the red fruits hanging for another 5 days so that they can develop their full aroma.
Prairie Fire Facts
|South USA (Texas)
|15 - 30 cm
|80 - 90 days
|8 - 14 days
|24 - 27 °C
|min. 40 cm