McMAHON'S TEXAS BIRD (Capsicum annum), also known as Red Bird, was a gift to Thomas Jefferson from Captain Samuel Brown in 1812. (It is now the official pepper of Texas.) Jefferson planted this beautiful decorative pepper in pots and in the kitchen garden. He was particularly intrigued by the claims of medicinal qualities. (Actually true to some degree of most capsicums) The McMahon name was attached when Jefferson sent the seed to his friend and seedsman Bernard McMahon of Philadelphia in 1813, who became the principle commercial grower for it. As most peppers are perennials, this is a great candidate for bringing indoors when weather cools so you can enjoy its fruits through the winter (with sufficient bottom warmth and a grow light) putting it back out when warm weather returns. In this way, it may actually gain the full 4-5 feet size it attains in its native environment.) Very hot - just one of these tiny jewels added without seeds to a small bowl of salsa will give it pleasant heat and piquancy. 25 seeds. 90-100 days.
ABOUT GROWING PEPPERS: Whether Sweet or Heat, peppers must be started indoors and really appreciate bottom warmth (80 degrees) and grow lights for vigorous starts. Be sure to pick varieties that will have sufficient time to complete their growth in your area. Also, hot peppers will be hotter as the temperature rises, so if you want heat and live in the north, buy the hottest varieties available so you won't be disappointed. Vice versa for the south. Use gloves when handling hot pepper seeds and some of the hot peppers themselves. Start peppers indoors 8 weeks before transplanting. Sow seeds 1/4" deep. Keep soil moist. Peppers may take up to two weeks to pop up. When weather warms (daytime soil near 80 degrees and nighttime temps above 50 degrees) you can transplant into rich prepared soil in a sunny position, about 18'' apart and, if in rows, about 24'' apart. I like to give my peppers some support, usually a stake or cage, as productive plants can keel over from the weight of their fruit. Consider spacing your peppers around your vegetable garden, as they can be helpful in warding off furry invaders of your greens and such. Use organic mulch to fend off weeds and keep soil moist in hot dry summers. Peppers need regular moderate watering, but water from below to avoid spreading blossom end rot. Peppers are so versatile. You can use fresh, cook them in a variety of ways, dry many varieties easily, and freeze many varieties for later cooking.