Overwintering peppers isn’t very hard, and it’s a great way to keep your favorites year after year. In this post, I will show you how to overwinter peppers as live or dormant plants. You’ll also get tons of care tips to ensure they survive the winter.
I started overwintering my pepper plants indoors a few years ago out of frustration. Every year I start all of our peppers from seed.
Our summers are short, and it takes forever for them to become mature plants. Then, just when they’re looking amazing, and starting to produce a ton, frost kills them off.
I love growing peppers! So, instead of letting them all die outside, I overwinter them indoors to keep them for next year. And I’ll show you exactly how to do it too.
Here’s what you’ll find in this detailed guide to overwintering pepper plants indoors…
Are Pepper Plants Annuals Or Perennials?
You’ll always find peppers for sale in the vegetable section in the spring, and most people grow them as annuals. However, peppers are actually tender perennials that can survive for years in warm climates.
Overwintering peppers outdoors will work in a mild climate where the temperature stays above freezing. But if you live in a cold climate like I do, then you must bring them indoors.
The good news is, it’s really not that hard to overwinter peppers, and there are three methods you can try!
Related Post: How To Overwinter Plants: The Complete Guide
3 Methods For Overwintering Pepper Plants
There are three ways to overwinter pepper plants. You can mix and match to try the different methods to see which one works best for you.
It doesn’t matter if you have bell peppers, chilis, or ghost peppers, these methods for overwintering pepper plants will work with any variety.
- Potted peppers can be brought indoors as houseplants.
- The plants can be allowed to go dormant and be stored for winter.
- You can take cuttings of your plants, and overwinter those indoors.
How To Overwinter Pepper Plants
In this section, I will describe all three methods of overwintering pepper plants in detail. Some people find that one method is much easier for them. So, you should definitely experiment to find your favorite.
Overwintering Peppers Indoors
Contrary to popular belief, you can grow peppers indoors. If you want to try this method, then bring it inside before cold weather hits in the fall so it doesn’t start going dormant.
If your plant is too large to bring in, you can prune it to a smaller size. Keep in mind that since it’s is used to being outside, it will go into shock when you move it indoors.
It may droop for a few days, or even drop a few leaves. But this is normal, and it should pop back to health once it gets used to being inside.
Storing Dormant Pepper Plants
Some people find it much easier to allow the plants to go dormant in winter. To encourage your pepper plant to go dormant, leave it outside as long as you can in the fall.
Be sure to protect it from frost, or move it to a sheltered area. Allowing the plant to be exposed to cool temperatures will trigger dormancy.
I also recommend pruning off all the immature peppers, as well as the flowers and buds, and stop watering. It may start dropping some leaves during this time, which is a good sign that it’s going into dormancy.
Once it’s too cold to leave them outside, you can move them inside to a cool, dark location. Eventually they will drop most, if not all of their leaves.
Throughout the winter, check on your dormant peppers, and gave them a little water here and there. Be sure to allow the soil to dry out between waterings, but never allow it to get completely bone dry.
Never overwater a dormant pepper plant either. Learn how to bring plants back out of dormancy in the spring without killing them.
Bringing In The Cuttings
Rather than moving the whole plant inside, or digging it out of your garden, you can take cuttings instead. Be sure to take them before it gets cold, otherwise they may not root.
After they’re potted up, you can follow the same tips in this article for overwintering peppers as houseplants.
Bringing Pepper Plants Indoors For Winter
Before moving live plants indoors, you should debug them first. Follow these instructions for debugging before bringing plants in for the winter.
Otherwise, if you’re just bringing in cuttings, then you can debug them in the sink. Simply soak them for 10-15 minutes in water with a little bit of mild liquid soap in there to kill the bugs.
Be sure to weigh down the cuttings so they don’t float. Then rinse them well with fresh water before rooting them.
Tips For Keeping Peppers Indoors In Winter
Though they’re pretty easy to maintain indoors, they do require some special care to keep them healthy through the winter.
In this section, I’ll give you some tips for overwintering live pepper plants indoors. And, if you keep them alive through the winter, you might even be rewarded with some fresh peppers!
They need a lot of light, so put your plant in a sunny window at minimum. But usually even a south facing window isn’t enough for them during the winter.
So, if you notice it’s starting to get leggy, or it’s reaching for the window, then you’ll definitely need to give it more light. I use a grow light that’s set on a timer to give my peppers 12-14 hours of light every day.
Established peppers don’t need a lot of water, and they hate soggy soil. So be sure to allow the soil to dry out between waterings.
To prevent accidental overwatering, stick you finger one inch into the soil and only water it when it feels dry. If you struggle give them the right amount of water, a soil moisture gauge is a great tool to use.
Fungus gnats can also become an issue when indoors (though they are just a nuisance, and don’t eat the leaves).
If you ever see any bugs, it’s best to act quickly to get rid of them before they have a chance to spread to your other plants.
Overwintering peppers is pretty easy, but it can be a bit of extra work. If you have the room, it’s worth the effort to keep your favorites year after year. Starting each spring with a mature plant means more peppers for you!
More Posts About Overwintering Plants
- How To Overwinter Sweet Potato Vines
- How To Overwinter Coleus Plants Inside
- How To Overwinter Brugmansia Plants
Share your tips for overwintering peppers in the comments below.