Growing Rocoto Peppers in a Hot Arid Climate

euarto_gullible(5)April 16, 2011

Last year I grew all sorts of c. annuum and c. chinese plants that were up to my waist and loaded with pods. No problems. But in the same garden, from my 3 yellow pumpkin manzano plants, I got a whopping 3 pods, despite the fact that all three plants got huge, and loaded up with beautiful purple blossoms 3 times throughout the season.

This year, I am trying c. pubescens again with red rocoto peppers, and I'd like to hear from people who grow them in hot arid climates in the Southwest. Do I need to move them into partial shade? Right now, my garden gets considerable direct sunlight all day, which all my other peppers love. Do I need to overwinter them in pots? Do I need to put them out earlier than other peppers? What is the secret to growing rocoto peppers in a hot arid climate?

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I believe that too much heat can cause blossoms to drop with almost any pepper variety. On top of this, I would expect South or Central American peppers to be more tolerant of heat.

Partial shade might be the way to go, the best would be shade from a tree or something to diffuse the sun but not block it completely.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 12:14PM
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ned1(z9/ss15 NorCal)

I grow mine on a SE facing wall where they have sun most of the year but are in shade by mid-afternoon in the summer. And I'm not in a hot arid climate like yours. The plants grow best here in the early spring and then in the fall. They do seem to prefer somewhat cooler weather.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 1:12PM
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I am in CT, and I have had better luck with them in partial sun. I have also over-wintered them, but the 2nd year never seems as good as the first. I have found, though, if you have green pods when frost time comes, they will ripen if you move them inside.
John A

    Bookmark   April 17, 2011 at 4:53PM
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bob_in_pc(z8 FL)

Our climate here is hot and humid. My experience with Rocoto plants here is that they must have some shade and they do enjoy cooler weather. I would definitely recommend a sun shade or some other way to abate the intense heat in your area.

These plants are native to the Andes highland regions of Peru and Bolivia where cooler temperatures prevail. I noticed very favorable responses when I started moving the plants around so that they received muted sun......

It's also an easy plant to overwinter as they are more naturally cold-tolerant than other pepper species.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 8:08AM
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stormflakes(zone 9)

I've had the same experience as bob (in the same climate). They do better in muted light.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 8:25AM
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As they are from the andes, i'd say they would love full blast sun (just like in the andes). I live in a very hot and arid cilmate with very little rain. I have habanero and jalapeno plants. They first also dropped their flowers, resulting in zero peppers. I was afraid of overwatering them. But i figured that since it is THAT hot, the little water i gave them was not enough. So increased the watering and noow theyr'e full of peppers. So try giving them some more water. If this does not work, they probably like lower temps. Btw most people would kill for hot arid climates to grow their peppers ;)

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 6:54PM
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bob_in_pc(z8 FL)

I would like to go to the Andes mountains one day and see the diversity of the plant life. I'm not sure what it is about the climate that makes it so friendly to the Rocoto. However, I do think that the cool nights,has something to do with it.

I also know that growing Rocotos has been my greatest pepper challenge and that they do better in partial sun/shade.

BTW Sjon- it is not uncommon for peppers to not pod during the extreme heat because the pollen becomes sterile at high temperatures. My largest harvests take place in Nov/Dec time frame after it starts to cool...

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 11:18AM
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The andes cover quite a large area. From the south of latin america to the north. And from sea level to the highest parts where only few plant survive. So plant life and climate are indeed very diverse and one cannot easliy make generalised statements about its climate conditions... But cold (or cool) nights might indeed have something to do with successfully growing rocoto

Bob in pc, i see u are from florida. I live on the island of curacao in the caribbean. If i am not wrong, it is constantly just as hot here as it is during the floridian summer. My harvest takes place all year round (thank god). At what temperature does pollen become sterile?

    Bookmark   April 23, 2011 at 9:14AM
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bob_in_pc(z8 FL)

sjon -

In the Florida panhandle, we have stretches of heat in August and September where the temperature is over 90 F (roughly 32 C). Some days, we hit 100 F. My peppers basically shut down pod production. From what I've read, pollen viability reduces significantly at these high temperatures. However, some species are more tolerant than others, like say the Serrano. My chinense varieties that I guess are common in your area do very well.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 10:56AM
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