Tuesday, February 6, 2007

A pepper by any other name...

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Foreground: Fatali
Background: Two long cayenne (loosing leaves) and a rosemary plant

First, more fun and games with latin names.

On a previous post, I was hesitant about calling sweet peppers perennials even though I was pretty sure that they were because a 'internet person' had stated that they are called Capsicum annuum. In other words as close to annual as you could get without being so. His reasoning concluded that since they were probably spent by their first year of growth, it didn't matter that they could live another year, or more.

I knew that this wasn't true of hot peppers whose spectacular pictures I had seen, but I wanted to do some more investigation before I made any proclamations about sweet peppers.

Well, my research has lead me to believe that peppers are (most if not all) short-lived semi-woody sub-shrubs. The most commonly grown species is Capsicum annuum which includes many hot and all? sweet peppers (see list below for more details). There are some other Capsicum species from which we get hot peppers such as Capsicum frutescens. I mention this other species in particular because it may explain a mystery of overwintering my own peppers.

Update - Overwintering Peppers

I brought in one overcrowded pot of hot peppers to try an overwintering experiment. They were doing really well. I have not had the bug problems experienced by many other growers and after the initial shock, the plants had all grown a new flush of leaves and blossoms.

Now the embarrassing part. I told you that they were overcrowded right? Yup. Three hot pepper plants had been stuffed into a medium sized pot. It originally was supposed to contain one fatali pepper but my seeds germinated poorly, only one made it to transplating age and then it just sat there with a couple leaves all season. So when someone offered me a couple of long cayenne plants I said sure and threw them in the pot with the fatali. (By the way, the long cayenne produced like champs even in those crowded conditions).

My overwintering project was a bit impulsive too. I just brought a pot in at random, which happened to be the one with the plants mentioned above. About two weeks ago, the largest of the long cayenne plants began to drop leaves again. So I decided in my... what to call it?... desperation to transplant the poor dears. Surprisingly this hasn't seemed to phase them at all and now they all have a lot more foot room.

The long cayenne's are dropping less leaves but don't look so happy. However, the fatali immediately sprouted when I brought it inside. It has been growing steadily and happily ever since. Could this be because it is a different species? Could it be because it was less grown up? I don't know.

I suspect that the long cayenne peppers took a turn for the worst when the temperatures plummetted several weeks back. They are facing a southern window with lots of light but of course they are also more exposed to cold temperatures so close to the glass. I must remember to draw the curtain at night to see if that helps.

Read: Overwintering Peppers

Common Garden Peppers (taken mainly from Pepper Mania):

  1. Capsicum annuum:

    • Bells
    • Poblano
    • Cayenne
    • Cheese
    • Cherry
    • De Arbol
    • Frying Italian Types
    • Jalapeno
    • Ornamentals
    • New Mexican
    • Paprika
    • Pequins
    • Tepins
    • Wax
    • Serrano

  2. Capsicum baccatum:

    • Aji

  3. Capsicum frutescens (according to seed to seed by Ashcroft, the species formally known as chinense are now included here):

    • Tabasco
    • Scotch Bonnet
    • Habanero
    • Fatali

  4. Capsicum pubescens:

    • Rocoto
    • Manzano.

Some references/links:

Great Pictures: http://petterssononline.com/habanero/peppers.php

Fantastic Site for hot pepper info: http://peppermania.com/chile_seeds.html

Lots 'o' latin names: http://www.g6csy.net/chile/variety.html

Floridata's pepper page: http://www.floridata.com/tracks/peppergallery/pepper_menu.cfm

Another overwintered pepper (scroll to the bottom): http://thomas-jefferson.stumbleupon.com/tag/pepper/

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Dried long cayenne chilis

1 comment:

Ottawa Gardener said...

Just read that pinching the flowers might slow the growth... oh boy. Anyhow, will let you know how things go.