Overwintering Pepper Plants: How to Save Your Favorite Pepper Plants for 2018
If warm enough, peppers will continue to grow for more than a year (not annuals, actually perennials!). Keeping your favorite plant indoor ensures that you’ll have a jump start on next year’s crop. Take note, your peppers will continue to thrive indoors, but will not produce fruit. There won’t be enough light to support this. Of course if you still want to produce fruit, you’ll need to supply a greenhouse environment with the right amount of light and temperature.
The first step is to bring your pepper plant indoors. Pick your best producing and strongest plants to bring indoors. Find a pot that will fit a good-sized root ball, approximately the same size of the pot you’ve chosen. I chose an 8” pot that is about 6” deep. Gently cut a circle around your pepper plant with your shovel and then lift. Try not to disrupt the root ball as you transfer it to your new pot. Then fill in the pot as needed. Make sure you spray the plant down with Captain Jack’s dead bug or safe soap. You don’t want to bring in spider mites or any other unwanted insect.
Other gardeners would have you disrupt the root ball and change out the soil to a soil-less mix. When the soil warms up, any critters in your soil will also come out of dormancy and roam in your home. I did not do this, but it’s up to you. Supposedly hot peppers work best when trying to over winter pepper plants indoors. I chose a bell pepper plant this time.
It is suggested that you keep your plant in a nice cool spot (~55 oF), such as the garage or basement. My garage is not heated and will get way below 55 oF over the winter. I just keep my pepper plant upstairs by the window with all my other house plants. The biggest issue I have with keeping my pepper plant indoors has to do with watering. Other gardeners say if you keep your plant in a cool place, you won’t need to water it except for every 3-4 weeks. However, I find that my house tends to run dry over the winter. I need to water it every several days just to keep it from drying out completely.
Your pepper plant will naturally start to die back. The plant is going into dormancy for the winter, based on the amount of light and temperature. My plant has already started to die back. My only goal is to make sure it doesn’t dry out to the point of killing the plant. Once the leaves start to die back, you may prune back your plant. That’s next on the list. Make sure to remove any dead leaves and clean up and residual organic matter around your plant. This will reduce pests and disease.
Sometime in the spring, your plant will begin growing new branches. The plants take their queue from the length of sunlight per day. Your plants naturally know when it’s time to start growing. At this point, make sure you are watering your plant regularly. Make sure you don’t over water it. Outdoor soil is dense without the worms for aeration.