Chile – Rocoto Red

The Rocoto chile has thick walls like a bell pepper but it is very hot. Capsicum pubescens is found primarily in Central and South America. Rocoto can withstand cooler temperatures than other cultivated pepper plants, but still cannot withstand frost.The species name, pubescens, means hairy, which refers to the hairy leaves of this pepper. The hairiness of the leaves, along with the black seeds, distinguish this species from others. As they reach a relatively advanced age and the roots lignify quickly, sometimes they are called tree chili. Of all the domesticated species of peppers, this is the least widespread and systematically furthest away from all others. It is reproductively isolated from other species of the genus Capsicum.

Growing Your Own

Overwintering

The danger to your rocoto chile plant is frost (when temperatures dip below 32 degrees Fahrenheit). In your Sunnyvale garden, frost can happen from November through February.
If the frost period is brief, you can cover your plant outdoors with a fabric cover (like a bedsheet). Again, if the period is brief, you can try the insulated cushions used for early tomatoes.

If the period is longer, you need to bring your plant indoors. This means your rocoto plant will be in a pot. A 5-gallon pot (about 12 inches wide by 12 inches deep) is about the maximum. Any larger is very hard to move.

Saving Seed

Cooking and Preserving

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