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Rocoto seedlings outside in mild climates

15 years ago

Since Rocotos--mature plants at least--can stand light frosts and do well in climates that are cool all year (I understand they are fine in San Francisco), is it possible to put the seedlings outside at an earlier date than other peppers? I'm thinking of either a protected spot and/or moving plants if there is a threat of frost.

Our area (near San Jose) averages about 60/40 F in the winter and our most severe frosts of 25 F every 5-10 years (20 F is an all time record) are unlikely past the beginning of February. So is there a reason to wait to move our Rocotos until highs are 70 or whatever? Or can they go out pretty much anytime as long as they are protected?

One of the protected spots I was thinking of has Physalis peruvianus (Cape gooseberry, another Solanaceae from the Andes) very young seedlings as an experiment--I understand these are thought to be more tender than Rocotos. These didn't even notice our recent cold weather. Likewise my one adult Rocoto is fully leafed out and still ripening fruit in spite of the frost. The red and deep green are perfect colors for Christmas.

I have lots of fresh seeds of both red and yellow Rocotos and will not be upset if some (or many) seedlings die. I assume growth would initially be slower, but I'm running out of room inside.

Comments (4)

  • 15 years ago

    My peppers are outside year round.
    The c.Pubescens are growing like crazy right now.It's been in the low 40's to low 30's at night on and off lately.
    The Baccatums and pubescens love it.Lots of buds and pods right now.
    I think the plants can handle cold or rain,not both at once.
    Some peppers come back if their roots don't freeze.
    Several times I've heard people say a plant came back that they thaught was frozen during the winter.
    We rarely get colder than 36 or there abouts for a night or so most of the time.

  • 15 years ago

    I agree. Last year we got a ton of rain here it was really cold. Last year was the only year I lost any plants to weather (other than plants blowing off the wall and falling 20ft to their death). They seem to endure the cold as long as the roots aren't waterlogged and vice versa. Combine 40F and lower temps with saturated soil, and you have awful pepper growing conditions.

    Some fair better than others as smokemaster points out. My thai dragon survived the winter and even made fruit (very slowly). While I lost my chocolate habs all together.

    As far as putting seedlings outside. You seem to have a good game plan. Temperature seems to slow growth but within reason doesn't stop it. 70F+ is recommended for germination but isn't necessary for a plant to grow. Move them in at night if it's really cold, put them out in the morning sun. Morning sun is critical this time of year.

    Good luck. I'm trying to sprout a few seeds in a plastic bag with a wet paper towel. I leave it on top of my router as it seems to put off enough heat to keep them warm. I have heating pads that I could put under pots when I put them in soil, but they are under the snake tank now. I'm debating whether to use one or just use the shop light.


    PS Sowed four sili labuyo seeds back in oct and they all sprouted. They are still getting new growth in mid/late dec. I think they're going to explode once it warms up again.

  • 15 years ago

    smokemaster and habbob,

    Thanks for your advice--the seeds are germinating and I'll put some seedlings outside.

    They are germinating rather quickly--one seed so far at least. I remembered that there was a recipe on this site for germinating seeds between paper towels moistened by a weak tea solution. It turns out my tea solution was stronger than recommended--I steeped the tea for 3 minutes, switched to another cup and steeped for 3 more. I used that solution directly. I then forgot and left the seeds in the fridge for about a day and a half.

    I knew my heating pad was hotter than recommended--at the moment it's 93 F.

    One seed has a root--after 2 days. I'm potting it up now because I'm afraid things might fry and dry out quickly at those temps.

    This is a red Roccoto--the seed is about 3 weeks old, and I bought the plant, already pruned and 2 ft. wide by 1 ft. tall in a 4 inch pot a couple months ago. I immediately repotted it. Source: Annie's' Annuals:

  • 15 years ago

    Who pissed off the weather gods?

    33 last night,40 degrees at 6 pm today-windy as heck.
    This is California-SUNNY CALIFORNIA...

    A couple of my Chinense plants are looking disgusted.

    1 Annuum is thinking about dropping it's leaves.
    Peach hab already did.Naga Morrich and Bhuts already gave up.
    They say up to 80 this monday in the valley.

    My highly prized ButchT Trinidad Scorpions and 7 Pods are looking ill.Only had room to move 2 inside.
    I think I might have moved the last 2 Trinidad Scorpions FG in too late.
    7 pod from cmpman lost it last night too,I think.

    My poor super hots....

    Manzanos and Baccatums are still happy as pigs in mud.

    I guess i should be happy,about 150 plants are still un effected.
    Only my favorite babies are getting screwed.

    So who ordered the cold crap?
    We usually don't get the real COOL NOT COLD weather until feb. or so.

    Probably some person from back east who asked Santa for a white christmas or something and got it-half way anyways.

    Hope your happy whoever you are....