How long do Rocotos take to grow?

Seed to maturity period

As a follow on to my previous posts on growing Rocoto Chillies I decided to research how they would take to grow. This is what I found:

Apparently Rocotos  have a pretty long seed to the maturity growth period. It takes ten to twenty days for the seeds to germinate. Then, after germination, they will go through a series of potting -ons until they are in one-litre pots. This could take anything up to two months or even longer.  After all, plants grow more slowly in winter. The first opportunity will be potted on for the last time, hardened off and then placed outdoors for the rest of the season. It can then take over one hundred days after this until they bloom and set fruit. Apparently, Rocotos   grow quite quickly but take a long time before they flower  produce fruit

One thing I am going to have to consider is the temperature at which I start the seeds. I usually start seeds at between twenty-six and thirty two degrees Celsius. I would imagine  this Chilli should be started at lower temperatures because of its origins. Seed starting temperature is something I will need to experiment with for these Chillies. I will probably begin two batches in heated propagators. One at a lower temperature, say in the region  of eighteen and twenty three  degrees Celsius, and the other at between twenty-six  and twenty-nine  degrees. It will be interesting to see what starting temperature is the best

More about Capsicum pubescens

Hairy leaves and stems

Rocotos fall under the Capsicum pubescence species of  the Genus Capsicum L -pepper. Capsicum pubescence gets its name because this species has hairy leaves and stems. The plant uses the hairs to collect early morning dew. The hairs can apparently irritate the skin, so care needs to be taken when handling plants from this species. Another characteristic of  Capsicum pubescence is the colour of its flowers. It has blue-violet-coloured petals, which are brighter in the centre. They may also be purple ,with some white in the centre or light purple. The anthers are partly purple, partly white.

This species has its origins in Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador. It goes way back to pre-Incan times, with evidence being found that Chllies from this species were being eaten by these people as far back as 8500 years ago.  It is a species that prefers the temperatures found at the elevated areas in the countries mentioned.  Capsicum pubescens Chilies are not able to cope with tropical temperatures found in other parts of these countries.  It is the same reason that Rocotos cannot be grown successfully in countries outside of South America with warm climates. They also will not survive if subjected to frost.


Another thing I am going to be careful about is the size that this plant grows to.  It apparently grows to a big shrub but can also develop as a creeper. In the wild, it can grow up to fifteen feet wide . They will never grow to that size on my watch, as I only plant in pots.  The size of the pots they are grown in will constrain their growth. I have, however, previously mentioned that I will consider fifty-litre pots for their final potting on. I usually don’t go much above twenty-litres, but I am willing to make an exception with this Chilli. If I do this, I will also erect some trellis for the plant to creep onto. This will be worthwhile, though. The Chillies are delicious. So all the extra effort will probably be worthwhile.

Image credits

graibeard / CC by SA 2.O / via Flickr

Bea de los Arcos /CC BY NC 2.0 /via  Flickr

Starting Rocoto Chilli seeds

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