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Inspired by this question, I have grown some rocoto (C.pubescens) from seed. Despite using grow lamps and salt petre, germination rates weren't high, but after only 3-4 months I have some strong plants and at least one is covered with purple flowers. However none appear to be pollinating! This compares with some pepperoncini which I sowed at the same time and produced their first fruit a couple of weeks ago.

Do I need to manually pollinate C.pubescens and are there any recommended ways of doing this?

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This is my favorite pepper for a number of reasons, and I have grown it for years.

I've had decent germination rates using potting soil on a heating pad. They don't germinate well in the peat pots. I've never heard of using saltpeter.

In my experience over the past 10 years or so, it is important to hand pollinate rocoto (aka locoto in Bolivia) - especially early in the season. I use a fine watercolor brush, and just go from flower to flower every few days picking pollen up on the brush and dabbing the stigmas with it.

For some reason it seems like as the season progresses I have to do this less and less. It could be that different pollinators take notice and start taking over or maybe a temperature thing.

Also I highly recommend overwintering your plants if possible. I have kept plants for as long as 3 seasons, but I know they are good for more than 7. They can get very big, but you will want to cut them back by 30% or so to overwinter them inside. If you do this, you will have fruit two months earlier than you would starting new plants.

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  • Thanks - I'll start pollinating this weekend! I did notice that the petals didn't seem to open as much as most Capsicum and wondered if this was a problem. I have seen dead flowers, so they're definitely maturing and not pollinating. – winwaed Jun 5 '15 at 20:29
  • Salt petre is recommended by my supplier for the hard-to-germinate types. Not sure if it makes much difference, but at least it gives some K & NO3 for when the seeds germinate. I had the grow lamps arranged so that a lower set of lamps acted as a heat pad for the main tray (I only had one try this time). – winwaed Jun 5 '15 at 20:31
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I grow many types of pepper. Banana Peppers and Poblanos are my favorite peppers. Unfortunately some of the time, they don't like to produce without a little nudge.

I always sit with my plants, speaking to them like a loon. Touching them and feeling their strength and smoothness. Leafs stem and all. The pollen pods that shutter out from the center of each flower you should take keen attention to. Wind will take care of self pollination, but not always the case. Like the other answer suggest for advice, use a little brush and go flower to flower. Eventually it will no longer need it. The larger the plant grows the easier it shall pollinate itself, just like a baby at a young age, they need a little help and a push.

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