How to grow Rocoto Chillies

The journey of a single Chilli

In a previous post, I mentioned I wanted to grow Rocoto Chillies. It is a variety that I have never grown before and thought they would be perfect for this post (and more to follow). The idea is to chart the progress of a Chilli variety from seed right through to maturity. In future posts, I will write about the Chillies progress from the minute it is planted until the plant produces fruit. Once the Chillies get harvested, I will describe how they are used in cooking.

So why did I choose Rocoto Chillies?  The answer lies in the weather in the UK. This year I have problems with ripening. I have lots of Chillies, but many haven’t yet ripened. The season seems to be running out of time. It has become a race against time before the first frost.

When I learned that Rocoto Chillies have a tolerance for the cold, I was immediately interested. The Rocoto will have a longer growing season than some of the Chillies I planted in the 2021 season.  I have already had to bring this year’s Chillies indoors or into heated enclosures so they can ripen. Hopefully, next year, I will be able to avoid doing this with the Rocoto because of its ability to handle cold weather.

About Rocotos

Which Rocoto will I be growing?

One of the distinguishing characteristics of this Chilli is the colour of its seeds. They are black or dark brown. The plant resembles a tomato  when its shape is round (sometimes they are pear-shaped). This tomato like appearance is particularly so when red varieties are grown.

There are other Rocoto varieties with other shapes and colours. The Rocoto long, for example, is elongated and cone-shaped.  Others like the “Canario” or “Canary” pepper are yellow. They resemble mini bell peppers in shape.

The variety I will grow is known as the Rocoto Rojo (red). The Rocoto Rojo has a Scoville rating of between 30000 and 100000 SHU.  It’s round or block shaped fruit grows to one and a half inches in length and two inches wide. Rocotos can grow to a vine of over 15 feet out in the wild. However, I will be growing my Rocotos in pots, so they won’t be growing that big. I do however envisage planting them in large pots. Something like 50-litres or so. I want to give the plants a reasonable chance of developing without them taking over the place.

The Rocoto apparently takes about two weeks (sometimes longer) to germinate. It then takes about 100 days from potting-on to fruiting. The fruit will take even more time to ripen. One of the reasons I am starting the seeds now for next season is precisely that. It has  long seed to maturity growth period. By starting them now. I hope to get them to be at least 12 inches tall before next spring.   I will be growing them under grow lights, and they will be in a heated environment. However,  plants grow more slowly in winter. This is why I am allowing more time than the growing time mentioned above.

Image credits

The original uploader was JoeCarrasco at English Wikipedia./ CC BY-SA 3.0 / via Wikimedia Commons.

Sebastian Aguilar (DrCooling)/ CC BY-SA 4.0/ via Wikimedia Commons

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