Overwintering peppers isn’t very hard, and it’s a great way to keep your favorite varieties 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 for how to grow peppers indoors in the winter.
Every year I start all of our peppers from seed. Our growing season is short, and it seems to take forever for the tiny seedlings to grow into mature plants. Just when they’re looking amazing and producing tons of peppers, frost kills them off.
We grew a ton of peppers in pots this year, and had outstanding harvests. The plants were so lush and healthy, and I didn’t want to lose them. So, instead of letting them all die outside, I decided to overwinter them indoors to keep the plants for next year.
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 they must be brought indoors. The good news is, it’s really not that hard to overwinter peppers, and there are three methods you can try!
3 Methods For Overwintering Peppers
There are three ways to overwinter pepper plants. You can mix and match to try the different methods and see which one works best for you. It doesn’t matter if you’re growing bell pepper plants, chilli plants, or ghost peppers, these methods for overwintering pepper plants will work with any variety.
- Potted peppers can be grown indoors as houseplants.
- The plants can be allowed to go dormant and 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 peppers in detail. Some people find that one method is much easier for them then the others. You should definitely experiment with each of these methods to find your favorite.
Growing Peppers In Pots Indoors
Contrary to popular belief, you can grow peppers indoors. If you want to try this method, then plan to bring your plant indoors before it starts to get cold in the fall so it doesn’t start going dormant. If your plant is too large to bring indoors, you can prune it to a smaller size.
Keep in mind that since the plant is used to growing outside, it will go into shock when you bring 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 rather than growing peppers 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 the plant from frost or move it to a protected 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 flower buds, and stop watering the plant. 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 your plants 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.
Rooting Pepper Plant Cuttings
Rather than bringing the whole plant inside for winter or digging it out of your garden, you can take cuttings instead. Be sure to take cuttings before it gets cold, otherwise they may not root.
Use a propagation box for rooting pepper cuttings, or try growing them in water. Once your cuttings have grown healthy roots, then you can pot them up using a general purpose potting soil. Once their potted up, you can follow the same tips in this article for overwintering peppers as houseplants.
Bringing Pepper Plants Indoors For Winter
If you want to bring the plants in or root the cuttings, then you’ll definitely want to debug them first. Follow these instructions for debugging before bringing plants in for the winter if you’re going to bring in the whole plant.
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 the cuttings well before rooting them.
Tips For Growing Peppers Indoors In Winter
Thought they’re pretty easy to grow indoors, they do require some special care to keep them healthy through the winter. In this section, I’ll give you some tips for how to grow pepper plants indoors. And, if you keep them alive and growing through the winter, you might even be rewarded with some fresh peppers!
Indoor Pepper Plant Light Requirements
They need a lot of light, so be sure to 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 your plant is starting to grow leggy or 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.
How Often To Water Peppers Indoors
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 your potted plants the right amount of water, a soil moisture gauge is a great tool to help you out.
Controlling Pepper Plant Pests
Dealing with indoor plant pests is probably one of the hardest parts about growing peppers inside. Aphids and spider mites love pepper plants, and can become a huge problem when overwintering peppers. Fungus gnats can also become an issue when growing peppers in containers (though they are just a nuisance and don’t eat the leaves).
If you ever find bugs on your plants, it’s best to act quickly to get rid of them before they have a chance to spread to your other plants. You can wash the leaves with organic insecticidal soap (or mix your own using 1 tsp of mild liquid soap per liter of water).
Another great way to get rid of bugs on pepper plants is to use organic neem oil. Neem oil is a natural product that kills bugs, and has a residual effect that can help to keep them away. Learn more about using neem oil insecticide here. You could also use horticultural oil to get rid of bugs on indoor 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 favorite varieties year after year. Starting each spring with a mature plant, rather than small seedlings 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
- Overwintering Tropical Plants Indoors
Share your tips for overwintering peppers in the comments below.