2018 Chiltepin Pepper Pruning – Tempe, Arizona
How to Grow Wild Sonoran Chiltepins
Wild Sonoran chiltepin peppers (Capsicum annuum var. glabriusculum), also known as the bird pepper, grow naturally in southern parts of Texas and Northern Mexico. The plants grow from 3-6 ft. in height and resemble a shrub. They produce small white flowers and eventually small green peppers, which will ripen to a bright red. Temperature and humidity are very important to the growth and production of these plants, so growing your own takes a little bit of care and prep work.
Propagate your seeds.If your peppers are fresh, completely dry the seeds, place multiple seeds in a damp paper towel inside a ziplock bag, and place in a window that receives direct sunlight as well as maintains heat.
- Other methods of seed propagation may be used. You may also plant 2-3 seeds in small styrofoam cup with soil. Be sure all seeds are in the same hole approximately 1/2 to 1 inch deep. Use a well-draining soil such as a cactus mix.
Keep an eye out for sprouts.Once your peppers have sprouted roots and began to appear out of your soil (approximately 10-14 days from planting), you may notice more than one plant has sprouted.
- You may thin down to one plant you determine to be the hardiest, but it is not absolutely necessary.
Keep the plants in styrofoam cups until they are about 6-8 inches tall.Water plants only once soil has begun to dry (typically once a week to moisten soil).
Re-pot your plants.Now that your plants are approximately 6-8 inches tall, it is a good time to re-pot them. Be sure to use well draining soil such as a cactus mix.
- Transplant from your styrofoam cup to a 5-6 inch diameter self-watering planter. Letting your soil dry up in the cup will allow you to easily remove each plant by grabbing the stem at the base and gently pulling the cup off. Do not try and remove excess soil around the root ball.
- Plants should be placed in direct sunlight for 10-12 hours such as in a well lit window or under grow lights. Be sure the temperature of the soil is kept relatively warm (70-80 degrees F).
Prune your plants.As the plants begin to grow, minor pruning is needed but does help with the the growing of your plant. Remove any leaves that begin to turn yellow/brown/black by cutting them as close to the stem or branch as possible.
- To increase the fullness of your plant, you may cut both the stem and branches once they have produced 3 forks and has sprouted new growth from the center of the fork.
- Your plants will grow relatively quickly if given the proper conditions of high temperature and medium humidity (75-90 degrees F and 40-60% humidity).
- If you do move your plants outside, be sure to place in a semi-shaded area out of full sun, as these plants grow naturally as a shrub under leafy trees that provide cover from too much direct light but allow for high heat conditions. Trimmed stems can also be used to start other plants as well.
Increase the pot size when needed.Once your plants begin to outgrow your 5-6 inch plants (approximately 24-36 inches in height), you may now re-pot and consolidate your plants. It is now time to increase the size of your pots to 15 inch in diameter or bigger.
- You can plant 2-3 plants in a 15 inch planter and the plants will not compete for nutrients.
- Organic nutrients can be used to maintain nutrient levels for proper plant growth.
Pollinate the flowers.When flowers begin to show, pollinate them by hand with the use of a Q-Tip or other object. Oils from your fingers seem to keep the peppers from forming.
Keep the plants at the right temperature.Once you begin to see flowers the heating requirements change a bit. These plants still require the high temperature of 75-95 degrees F during the day but must cool to below 70 degrees F at night.
- Unless you live in an area where these temperature gradients can be achieved naturally, it is recommended to move the plants indoors at night where they can be cooled to below 70 degrees F.
Watch for your peppers.These plants are quite tough when it comes to keeping them alive but very sensitive when dealing with fruiting. If they're kept outdoors, provide cover from squirrels and birds as they will eat the tiny peppers. Peppers can take anywhere from 3-6 weeks after flowing, if given the proper conditions.
- From seed to pepper is approximately 90-120 days in climate similar to that of the natural climate of Southern Texas to Northern Mexico. In a cooler climate, it is recommended to start early (Jan. or Feb.) which extends the grow to about 120-150 days.
- Maintain high heat and medium humidity (75-95 degrees F and 40-60% humidity) while the plants grow.
- Provide medium to full shade if placed outside in high temperature regions to prevent overheating or cooking of leaves.
- Provide 12-14 hrs of sun during growing months (summer and fall) and 8-10 hrs during winter and spring.
- Prune as needed to remove discolored leaves and stimulate vegetation growth.
- Provide additional nutrients as needed once re-potted into larger container (15+ inches).
- Plants only require 1 inch of water per week once the top 1-1.5 inch of soil has become dry.
Video: Capuccino Wild Chiltepin 2015
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