By Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer
Mountain pepper is a dense, shrubby evergreen marked by leathery, cinnamon-scented leaves and reddish-purple stems. Mountain pepper is named for the pungent, hot-tasting essential oils in the leaves. Learn more about this plant in the following article.
When it comes to spectacular flowers, most city gardeners have limited choices. The narrow plots typically found behind most brownstones and row houses get little light due to neighboring trees and adjacent buildings, so using showy plants that require hours of full sun is not realistic.
One often overlooked option is mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia). This shade-tolerant North American shrub has gorgeous flowers that bloom in late spring and early summer. A close relative of rhododendrons and azaleas, itвЂ™s an excellent choice for a shady garden. ItвЂ™s also evergreen, so even after the blooms have faded, its leathery deep green foliage provides a welcome sign of life. Even in the coldest winter weather, when rhododendron leaves have curled in on themselves, mountain laurel remains bravely open to the elements.
Soil temperature correlates closely with bell pepper’s germination time. Although seeds will germinate within a temperature range of 60 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, if you can raise the soil temperature with heating mats to 85 degrees F, the seeds may break dormancy and give you bell pepper sprouts in as little as eight days. The cooler the soil temperature, the longer the germination process will take -- sometimes up to three full weeks. Peppers will not germinate at a soil temperature below 55 degrees F.