ROCOTO PEPPER (Capsicum pubescens), also known as Tree Pepper, is a Peruvian heirloom that is a uniquely beautiful pepper with red, orange or yellow coloration and black seeds. Please note that this pepper has a long growing season (flowers appear August-September), slow germination (3-4 weeks) and can be difficult to germinate, so not for beginners or those easily discouraged. Requires cooler temperatures overall (its natural habitat is the Andes Mountains so it can survive light frosts but not hard freezes) so it is best grown in pots, though it likes a warm and sunny position. Please also note that in addition to the care required of hot peppers, this pepper's leaves produce toxins and the sap can cause blisters. So wear gloves when handling (I speak from experience)! To set fruit use a fine artist's brush to gently touch the interior of each blossom, gathering and then distributing the pollen as would a bee. You will get more fruit per plant if you have two or more plants. The fruits are very fragrant when they ripen, calling you to harvest and cook your favorite dish! The tree grows 2' - 4' with beautiful purple flowers followed by 1" round green fruits that ripen to yellow, orange or red and have black seeds. Unique, hot flavor. Start this one early. In suitable climates, Rocotos are perennials, providing continuous fruiting for up to 15 years! So grow it in a pot and bring it in for the winter, cutting it back a little in the spring. 95-130 days from transplant. Will not cross-pollinate with other peppers. Hot! And in parts of South America they are referred to "el mas picante de los picantes" or "the hottest of the hot." 10 Seeds. 95-130 days.
MEDICINAL: This unusual pepper wards off insects, so it is useful to grow on your deck or porch where you can sit and admire it. The hot and pungent fruit is used internally to treat hemmorhoids, rheumatism, indigestion, asthma. Externally is used in neuralgia.
ABOUT GROWING PEPPERS: Whether Sweet or Heat, peppers must be started indoors and really appreciate bottom warmth (80 degrees) and grow lights for vigorous starts. Be sure to pick varieties that will have sufficient time to complete their growth in your area. Also, hot peppers will be hotter as the temperature rises, so if you want heat and live in the north, buy the hottest varieties available so you won't be disappointed. Vice versa for the south. Use gloves when handling hot pepper seeds and some of the hot peppers themselves. Start peppers indoors 8 weeks before transplanting. Sow seeds 1/4" deep. Keep soil moist. Peppers may take up to two weeks to pop up. When weather warms (daytime soil near 80 degrees and nighttime temps above 50 degrees) you can transplant into rich prepared soil in a sunny position, about 18'' apart and, if in rows, about 24'' apart. I like to give my peppers some support, usually a stake or cage, as productive plants can keel over from the weight of their fruit. Consider spacing your peppers around your vegetable garden, as they can be helpful in warding off furry invaders of your greens and such. Use organic mulch to fend off weeds and keep soil moist in hot dry summers. Peppers need regular moderate watering, but water from below to avoid spreading blossom end rot. Peppers are so versatile. You can use fresh, cook them in a variety of ways, dry many varieties easily, and freeze many varieties for later cooking.