Spineless capers are a low sprawling shrub to 3 ft, with arching stems and dark green, semi-succulent dark green round leaves. From May October the plants produce small flower buds, which are harvested and used commercially as capers. If left unpicked these flower buds form large, exotic delicate scented pinkish-white flowers with long lavender stamens which open in the morning and close in the afternoon. Capers are native to the Mediterranean region, and prefer growing in the driest, hottest locations, often with little soil and no obvious water. In order to successfully grow them in a garden setting, soil needs to be amended significantly, with small rocks and sharp sand. Grow the plants on a well drained mound if possible, or best in a rock garden. The plants prefer to be grown lean, with very little fertilizer or water. If you are growing in containers, be sure to use a very well drained soil, or amend it with perlite or pumice. Keep containerized plants dry between waterings. Overwatering is a sure way to kill capers quickly.
In general, capers are not hardy below 18 degrees F. On the other hand, temperatures in excess of 105 degrees F are perfect for capers. The plants can be quite attractive as ornamental plants, and the spineless capers work well as a container plant. Flowers are born on first-year branches, so lightly pruning the plants will give a healthier and bushier plant. The spineless variety is an excellent choice for containers or by walkways where you don’t want the branches to reach out and grab you!
Capers have a piquant spicy mustard – pepper flavor, and are used as condiments, for sauces, fish, chicken and pasta.
Read a recent blog post by Rosemary Loveall-Sale, “All About CAPERS!“