One thing I love about chilli plants is that you can successfully overwinter them for an earlier crop the following year. The process is reasonably simple especially if it is done at the right time and the plants are kept in the right conditions through the winter, you’ll have well established plants that will flower and fruit earlier on the following season.
I have three chilli plants that I have successfully overwintered for a whole season now, two jalapeños and a cayenne. I grew them last year (2018) from seed, repotted them in September 2018 and brought back out this year in April. Both plants have a strong main stem and produced an amazing amount of fruit this year. I hope to tuck them up for the winter and keep them going for yet another season. Smaller chilli plants won’t need such ruthless pruning and will be just as happy overwintering on a bright windowsill in your house until next year. No need to do anything to the little guys.
I would suggest preparing your chilli plants for winter NOW before it gets too cold. they have mostly finished fruiting and will be ready to go. As well as my jalapenos and cayenne, I am going to try overwintering my biquinos and birds eyes as both were heavy croppers this year.
These are my steps to overwintering a large chilli plant (ones taller than 30cm):
- Pick a plant with a strong stem and lots of upper branches
Remove the top branches above the fork above the main stem, leaving two or three leave nodes (these are the bumps on the stem where the leaves/fruit grow from) you can leave the leaves on, I have left one with leaves on and one without as an experiment to see which wakes up faster!
- Take the plant out of it’s pot and remove 2/3 of the roots. Yes, thats right, two thirds of the root ball.
- Put the plat in a new much smaller pot. Mine went from a 25cm diameter pot to a 10cm pot. It takes a bit of stuffing.
- Bring the plant indoors and keep on a warm bright windowsill
- Only water the plant occasionally when it gets quite dry and from the roots not the top
- When the weather picks up around the end of March to April, take the plant back outdoors during the day to harden off.
- Protect from frost.
- When the new leaves start to grow from the nodules the plant is waking up, give it a good watering and feeding and pot into its original pot or something bigger than the one it’s in.
And that’s it! You may need to hand pollinate the first few flowers that appear as the plants will wake up earlier than most
pollinators, but it’s not necessary. You can just leave the plant to grow and drop some flowers before thepollinators arrive.
Did you know you could over winter chilli plants? Do you overwinter them? What are your success stories? I’d love to hear your comments.