[CH] Snowy mountains/perennial chiles

Doug Goldenberg (dgoldenberg@sprintmail.com)
Sat, 25 Apr 1998 13:31:15 -0700

When trying to grow chiles in these western USA mountains, I find that they
just don't have the time to mature and produce much before the frosts start
up.  Especially since nights here are cool, even when days are hot.  So
I've tried growing them as perennials.  They might not produce much the
first year, but after a winter indoors, they really do well the second year
potted outside.  They tend to look really bad around February, but then
they pick back up again in the spring.

The best chiles for this treatment are rocotos (C. pubescens).  They get
big, old, and bushy, have little winter die-back, and start growing again
early in the spring.  The ajis (C. baccatum) are also good, being both fast
growing and resistant to winter die-back.

The habaneros (C. chinense) are OK for this, but tend to be stunted,
probably by the cool temperatures.  Same goes for the wild pepper

Most of the other chiles (C. annuum) aren't too good for this treatment. 
They tend to die over the winter.  Especially the fast-growing plants like
cayennes, anchos and the like.  The exceptions have been peruvian purple
and serrano.  Especially the peruvian - it has a compact, slow-growing
bushy growth habit.

Question - anyone have observations on other chile varieties grown as
perennials in the north?  I'm especially interested in varieties that
resist dying during cold, dark winters.