Overwintering Pepper Plants – Keep Your Plants for Years

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By nature, pepper plants are perennial, meaning they can live for many years in the right conditions. However, many casual gardeners simply start from seed each year – but this isn’t required!

Overwintering pepper plants is a (fairly) easy way to keep your chili plants alive longer. Winter weather is inhospitable to pepper plants, so some indoor space must be made for them to hibernate for a few months.

In this article, I’ll share the techniques I use to overwinter peppers. The process seems traumatic, especially for a first-timer, but your effort can pay off when spring rolls around.

Overwintering pepper plant before and after

What is Overwintering?

Since pepper plants cannot tolerate a hard frost, many growers are forced to make a decision. Compost the plants at the end of the fall, or try to keep them alive through winter.

If you have a heated greenhouse, you’re lucky. For the rest of us that have harsh winters, the only remaining option is to overwinter indoors.

Generally speaking, overwintering is the process of bringing an outdoor plant indoors to keep it alive through the winter months. This is necessary for any non-hardy plants that would otherwise die in the freezing weather.

Are Pepper Plants Perennial?

Technically, pepper plants are perennial in their natural environment, meaning they can live for many years. The problem is, peppers come from a tropical climate without winter weather. So, if you live in a place with freezing temperatures, the plants won’t survive year round.

For peppers, it is relatively easy and rewarding to overwinter plants. They are extremely resilient and usually come back stronger after the “hibernation” period indoors.

Most growers choose to force the plants into a dormant state, growing very little new foliage through the winter. You can try growing peppers indoors, but the risk of bringing in pests increases.

Overwintering Peppers (Video)


Why Overwinter Peppers?

Firstly, I think it is important to consider whether you should even bother overwintering. There are a few great reasons that you may want to, but some growers might prefer to simply start from seed each year.

The main reason to overwinter is to give the plants a head start in the following year. The already-established root system will allow the plant to regrow more quickly, ideally leading to an improved yield.

Another reason you may wish to overwinter is to preserve a special pepper plant. We like to grow unique varieties, and when we get a plant that has particularly strong traits, we may choose to overwinter. This could mean a plant that had no disease, high yield, delicious flavor, or higher-than-usual heat.

You’re reading this article, so I assume you’re planning to overwinter, so let me share a few benefits and drawbacks of winterizing your peppers.

Benefits

  • Quicker growth in spring. Overwintered plants often rebound quickly once the temperatures rise. The large, established root ball kicks right back into gear and the plant’s shoot off new growth rapidly.
  • Larger yields. The quick early spring growth leads to more branches and foliage, ultimately leading to a better yield when compared with seed-started plants.
  • Grow peppers indoors (optional). While we don’t recommend it, overwintered plants can be used to produce peppers through the winter. With a grow light and a warm room, your plants can continue to grow pods through winter. If you want to grow peppers indoors, we recommend starting fresh from seed in a clean environment to avoid pest issues.
  • Preserve genetics. If you grew an unstable pepper variety, overwintering it allows you to keep the same genetic traits alive for another season.

Drawbacks

  • Pests. Aphids, mites, fungus gnats, oh my! These are not creatures you want in your indoor grow space. Without natural predators to feast on them, plant pests can run rampant indoors. We take several precautions to help avoid bringing pests, eggs, or larvae indoors with our plants.
  • Extra effort. For some growers, the extra effort of pruning, replacing soil and repotting aren’t worth it. With proper technique, your seed-started plants can produce extremely well, so you may prefer to keep it simple and not overwinter.

With a basic understanding of overwintering and it’s pros and cons, let’s start preparing the pepper plants!


When to Start Overwintering Peppers

Before you start digging up your plants, first understand when you should begin the process. Overwintering prep work should begin as late as possible to allow any late peppers to ripen.

In short, begin the overwintering process when overnight temperatures begin to dip into the mid-40s Fahrenheit (~7°C). Pepper plants will begin to show signs of stress at this time, dropping leaves and reducing growth.

Overwintering pepper plant pepper geek

Tip: If you have a few peppers remaining on your potted plants, bring the containers into a garage or shed on cold nights. This can help prolong the season a few weeks until the cold temperatures are more permanent.


How to Overwinter Pepper Plants

Now, on to the fun part! With your timing dialed in, you’ll just need some basic supplies and about an hour or so to re-pot your peppers.

Supplies:

How to overwinter peppers (steps)

  1. Prepare new soil.

    In a clean mixing bowl, add enough fresh soil to fill your overwintering pot. Make sure the pot is cleaned, too, using warm soapy water. Add some water to the soil and mix thoroughly until it has the moisture content of a wrung out sponge. The soils should be moist, but should not drip any water when squeezed.Pre mixing potting soil for overwintering

  2. Add 1-2 inches of soil to pot.

    Add about 1-2″ of the pre-moisted soil to the new pot and compress lightly. This will provide a place for the roots to sit comfortably.Pre filled pot with soil

  3. Harvest and prune pepper plants.

    Outdoors, remove all remaining peppers from your plant and prune back the branches. We like to leave several nodes on the main stem, but some growers prune back to a small stump (just 3-4″ tall). As long as there are at least a few nodes, the plant should be able to regrow.Pruning pepper for overwintering

  4. Remove all leaves.

    The leaves are the perfect hiding spot for aphids and other insects. To be safe, remove every single leaf from the plant. This part can feel overly-traumatic, like you are killing the plant, but it is still alive. The roots and stem remain alive and can regrow later from each node.Leaves removed from pepper plant for overwintering

  5. Remove root ball and clean out all soil.

    This is the final dramatic step to avoid pests. The soil is another breeding ground for many insects, including fungus gnats. Remove the root ball by loosening the pot and pulling the plant out on its side. Then, use your hands to begin loosening the soil and removing soil. Use a hose to spray the remaining soil from the roots. In the end, the root ball should have very little to no soil remaining.Loosening soil from root ball

  6. Trim roots.

    Trim the roots with scissors or pruning shears to the approximate size of your overwintering pot. Excess roots can become tangled.Pepper plant with bare roots for overwintering

  7. Perform insecticide dunk (optional).

    This step is an added level of protection against any remaining pests. Fill a bucket with about 3 gallons of water and add the correct amount of insecticidal soap. Mix thoroughly and dunk your plant both ways, allowing it to sit for a few minutes. This should take care of any aphids or other insects that remain in the roots.Dunking pepper plant roots in neem oil solution

  8. Re-pot in fresh soil.

    Back indoors, place the bare root ball into the prepared pot. Hold the plant with the main stem about 1″ from the pot’s surface and begin to add fresh soil around the roots. Use your fingers to gently poke soil into the loose roots. Once the soil is at the surface of the roots, compress lightly and top it off.Adding soil for overwintering pepper

  9. Water and place in cool location.

    Apply a gently watering to moisten the roots (use the insecticidal soap mixture if possible). Move the plant to a location with some ambient light (a window is fine) and a temperature between 55-65°F (13-18°C). A garage, shed, or mudroom usually works best, but be sure to monitor temperature. Don’t let the temperatures get too cold, as this can cause the plants to become overly stressed (more on temperature below).Overwintering in pot

  10. Prune any additional leaves weekly (optional).

    As the plant adjusts to its new conditions, it may try to produce additional branches and/or leaves. You can leave them to grow if you wish, but they can also be pruned. Either way, be vigilant for pests.

Note: There is always a risk that a pepper plant may not survive this process. It is traumatic, but in our experience the plants are surprisingly resilient!

What About In-Ground Plants?

For in-ground plants, the process is almost identical. The only change is how you remove the root ball from the ground. We use a spade to dig around the base of the plant, approximating to the size of the pot.

Digging up pepper plant for overwintering
Digging up a pepper plant to be overwintered.

Once your pepper plant is positioned, you can mostly leave it be. However, it is still important to check in for any pests, temperature, and periodic watering. From here, moving back outdoors in the spring is the next major change!


Common Overwintering Questions

We get a lot of questions about overwintering, so here are some of the most common. Hopefully these can help you feel confident as you try it yourself.

What is the best container size for overwintering peppers? We like to downsize into a smaller container (0.5-1 gallon) to save space indoors. This can also allow you to overwinter more plants. However, you can keep the pot size larger and keep more of the root system intact if you have space for it inside!

Why cut off all the leaves? The leaves are a feeding place for aphids and other sap sucking insects. Since the goal is ‘hibernation,’ the leaves are more of a risk than an asset. Rest assured, if your plant survives the initial cut back, it will regrow new leaves from the nodes on each stem. You’ll likely see it trying to do so a few weeks after bringing it indoors!

Should I cut back new foliage that grows indoors? After moving the plants inside, your plants will likely start to grow new leaves within 1-2 weeks. We typically trim back new foliage every 2 weeks to keep the plants tidy, but you can allow it to grow if you wish. The cooler the temperature, the less leaves will grow.

What is the ideal temperature for overwintering peppers? If possible, keep the temperature cool, between 55-60°F (13-15°C). This will dramatically slow the growth rate of the plant and help initiate the desired dormancy. Any warmer, and the plant will constantly be trying to grow new branches and leaves, requiring more maintenance. Any colder and the plants may stress too much.

How much should I fertilize an overwintering pepper plant? We don’t recommend fertilizing at all. You can simply use a potting soil that contains some nutrient content. This will be enough to keep the plant from dying, as growth isn’t the goal.

How much should I water during overwintering? At temperatures in the 50s Fahrenheit, peppers won’t grow much, if at all. This means less water usage. In our experience the plants usually only need water every 3-4 weeks or so during the winter. The larger the pot, the longer you can go between waterings. More importantly, be careful not to overwater!

How much light is needed for overwintering? Lighting is similar to watering – not much is needed. Some natural daylight from a window will suffice for overwintering peppers. If you are overwintering in a windowless room, a small grow light on for 2-3 hours daily should be enough.

Do I have to harden off an overwintered pepper plant? Hardening off is the process of gradually adjusting an indoor plant to the outdoors. We recommend hardening off overwintered plants the same way you would with seedlings. However, the new growth should adjust more quickly to the sunlight.

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Tips for Overwintering Peppers

In addition to the basic steps and conditions, I have a few tips for overwintering. These should help keep the plants healthy and happy throughout the winter, and keep the pests at bay.

  • Use fresh, bagged potting soil. Fresh soil is a must for overwintering peppers. If you can find it, use a bagged soil that does not have any holes. The holes can invite insects to come in and lay eggs in the soil.
  • Sterilize soil (optional). To be extra cautious, some growers recommend sterilizing soil in the oven. The soil should be heated to about 200°F for 10-15 minutes. This will kill all pathogens, but also good bacteria. Plan on potting into fresh unsterilized soil in spring for a healthier soil ecosystem.
  • Add sand to the top of soil. We have heard that adding 1-2″ of sand or vermiculite to the surface of the fresh soil can prevent bugs from crawling up to the surface. I have not verified the effectiveness of this, but the method sounds good in theory.
  • Check for pests regularly. We check on our overwintering pepper plants every 1-2 days to keep a close eye for pests. If any bugs are detected, immediately move the plant and identify the pest in question. Deal with the problem swiftly, and consider keeping the plant separate from any that are unaffected.
  • Keep overwintering plants away from seed starting area. Since there is always a risk of pests, we keep our overwintering plants far away from our typical growing area. The last thing we need is an aphid problem in our seed starting station!
  • Always keep temperatures cool. Cool temperatures are always recommended to slow growth. Peppers can survive just fine in cool temps, and will grow very slowly. This is ideal for overwintering, since growth is not wanted until spring.
Overwintering 2 plants

These tips can help increase the chances of a successful overwintering. While the plants are relatively low maintenance, they still need some regular attention.


Dealing With Pests Indoors

If you do find an unwanted pest on your indoor plant, it must be dealt with immediately. Unfortunately, the options are limited since many pests are difficult to control.

Aphids are one of the worst pests to bring indoors, as they can multiply rapidly. A single aphid can become a full-blown infestation, as they don’t require multiple individuals to reproduce.

  • Keep infested plants separate. The most important thing to do is to separate any pest infested plants right away. As insects multiple, they may travel from one plant to another. This is why we always keep overwintered plants away from our seed starting area, just in case of an infestation.
  • Spray with neem oil or insecticidal soap. Aphids will feed on young leafy growth first, so always keep new leaves pruned back as they appear. If the aphids still manage to survive, use a diluted neem solution to spritz the affected plants once every 2-3 days (recipe here).
  • Drench soil with neem or peroxide. For fungus gnats, using a 20% ratio of hydrogen peroxide and water to soak the soil can kill them. Don’t spray this on the plant itself, just drench the soil and root system.

Pests are part of the risk of bringing outdoor plants inside. As hard as we try, there is always a possibility that one egg or individual will survive and causes issues.


Moving Back Outside

After a few months of plant-sleep, your peppers will be eager to get back outside to grow once more. As the temperatures rise, you can simply begin transitioning the plants outdoors as normal.

We basically just add our overwintered plants in with our seedlings as they harden off. Since the overwintered plants don’t have any foliage, hardening off is less critical. The new foliage will be immediately exposed to sunlight, making it more hardy in direct sun.

Up-potting

If you downsized your plant’s container, you can transplant into a larger container a few weeks before moving back outside. If you have the space indoors, you can grow in as large a pot as you’d like. We find that anything from 3-10 gallons works well for most pepper varieties.

Transplanting works just like moving seedlings to larger pots, but on a bigger scale. If you are moving the plant into the ground, make sure you harden off in the location where the plant will be planted.


I wish you the best of luck with overwintering your pepper plants. We have had some readers tell us their plants have been alive for 8 or more years! The effort is certainly worth it to some growers.

Calvin Thumbnail

Calvin

One of the original Pepper Geeks! When Calvin isn’t gardening or learning more about peppers and botany, he might be traveling new places or playing some music.

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76 Comments

  1. Hi. I have a ghost pepper and carolina reaper. I wanted to over winter them and followed your instructions. My reaper looks great. My ghost has started looking sick. The stalks are turning black and the leaves (little leaves) are shriveling. Both plants are in garage with filtered outside light. Have i lost my ghost pepper? Or is there a way to get it to snap back around? Any suggestions will be appreciated

    1. It is possible that the plant died in the process – it is fairly traumatic the way we do it. You can scratch a bit of skin off the stem to see if it is alive. If you see green, it is living, if it’s brown, that part of the plant is likely dead. Hope this helps!

  2. Hello! I have three plants inside for the winter. I followed your steps and had a very successful transition back inside. My plants were doing so well for a few weeks, slowly growing new leaves which indiciated that it survived the overwintering process. Now, the stems are dry and turning brown instead of green and vibrant. I thought I was watering them enough because the soil wasn’t dry. Is this okay or do you think the plants have some how died? I’m keeping them in a window and watering more often in hopes of them rebounding. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

    1. Hm, if the temperature didn’t drop below 32°F, I’m not sure why they would have suddenly died. One consideration is when you cut them back. It can help to wait for the plants to begin dropping leaves before you start the overwintering process. But if you saw some growth after you cut them back that is a good sign. I’d say keep them moist and give them some time to hopefully rebound.

  3. I tried this last winter, but I’m in Vancouver Canada and it gets down to about -15 some nights. My garage isn’t heated, and I have over 100 houseplants, so bringing them inside is a big nope.
    Not going to stop me from trying again! My apocalypse scorpion pepper plant did so well, it’s worth a shot.
    Will still start seeds just in case 💚

  4. I live in NH, and my garage will get below freezing sometimes, can my Carolina reapers overwinter there or is it necessary to bring them into my basement?
    Thanks

    1. If it freezes, the plants will likely die – you can check on them by scratching a small amount of skin off the stem, looking for green if it is still alive.

  5. Question
    If my pepper plants is already in a pot do I need to replace the soil before moving it in the garage…… They are very healthy and pest free , my Garage runs about 50 during the winter with grow lights. I have 2 pepper in pots a Red Biquinho and a Chiltepin i live in Eagle Idaho ……
    thank you

    1. In the garage, I wouldn’t worry too much about the pests. We only worry when we are bringing in a plant to our indoor space, around other houseplants and whatnot. In your case, I would probably just move the pot into the garage and trim it back to keep the size down. Hope your plants are doing well!

  6. I followed your tips on overwintering last year and had great success. It was rather stressful pruning so heavily but my jalapeños soon forgave and gave me my best crop ever. I am now living in the tropics so it will not be something I have to do!

  7. I live in zone 6 can I winter my peppers in this cold zone? I have a monster Trinidad scorpion pepper I’d love to keep.

  8. Thank you, I stumbled across this feature by accident rather than intent. Having forgotten to fully clear out my glazed porch area. I’d been unwell and when I got around to it found a healthy plant with lots of flower developing. Yes I was lucky, but had the best and earliest harvest yet.
    Plants were here before us and will hopefully be here long after we are gone.

  9. We rarely have hard frosts (never lower than the high 20s). One winter I left a jalapeno in the ground, pruned it back … and it came back marvelously one year, not so much the next. Others haven’t been as successful.
    What tips do you have for overwintering in place? If a hard frost comes for a night or two would it work to cover them with towels? Are there some pepper plants that would do better than others with this? Thanks.

    1. Best tip for this type of climate is to mulch heavily in late fall, and maybe keep an eye out for those days below freezing and cover the plants with a light covering. You could also just cover them for the entire “winter” until early spring when temps start to rise again. Wish we could do that!

    2. I often experiment in late fall with seeing what peppers can survive cold weather (since they’re done for the year anyway); and there are differences — varieties that hail from tropical islands seem the most delicate and can take damage well above freezing, while many others can survive at or even slightly below freezing. Large plants with dense foliage fare better than those with sparser branches. But more than a few degrees below freezing, not even covering helps and no mainstream pepper species can survive.

  10. I’ve successfully overwintered a healthy habanero plant for 4 winters and a lemondrop pepper plant for one winter. They’re sitting on my window sill, I’ve got some flower growth and they’re looking great.

    My questions is, should I do any pruning of leaves/branches when I bring them outside to maximize better plant growth and/or better fruit yield? The last few years the habanero plant was very dense and bushy (with lots of fruit). Didn’t know if being dense and bushy was a bad thing or not.

    Oh yeah, how many years do you think I can keep this going with my habanero plant (and lemondrop)?

    Thanks!

  11. How long does it take the winterized pepper plant to begin growing/showing leaves or a form of growth?

  12. Brought mine in and they got hella aphids (I didn’t prune them back). Because they share a room with a 100 gallon feed tank of pond fish, I can’t spray them. I tried ladybugs (who DOESN’T want to release 1000 ladybugs in their spare bedroom?), but that didn’t work. Can I cut them back now? Mid-april? I still can’t take them outside, so the aphids would obviously be there still, but would it mitigate it? (I am zone 4b)

    1. You can cut back any time, but at this point I’d be letting the plants start to grow back in preparation for moving back outside. Aphids are tough indoors, not much you can do other than what you tried. Ladybugs are not the best predator though, lacewings apparently do a better job (but I’m sure you’ve introduced enough live insects into your spare room 🤣

  13. It’s April now in the Kootenays in British Columbia. I will not be able to plant my overwintered peppers outside till at least the 3rd week of May. They are reacting favourable to the brighter days. They are in a room with a window. They are growing leaves and some flowers are appearing. What is the next course of action? Should I take the flowers off? Should I fertilize at half strength to give them some food? I brought about 12 plants in and have 4 alive and doing well.

  14. Great article, it’s exactly what I did last fall. I am straining at the bit to take them outside. I will follow your hardening off instructions. Thanks

  15. My husband brought all his pepper plants inside in the fall, but did not trim back. They are growing leaves and some are still producing peppers however we have been fighting aphids. Any suggestions for moving them outside? Fresh soil, treat aphids, etc. but I am guessing too late to trim up the branches. We will do better next year!

  16. I have one stem coming out of the lower part of my plant with two healthy looking leaves. The stem above that stem has no visible buds, stems, etc. this is as of 02/23/23.
    Any advice.

  17. I’m assuming if it’s better to trim the leaves back you should pinch off any new flower growth too? I missed the trim back the leaves in the video; all three of my peppers have a fair amount of leaves already and have started sprouting buds.

    1. It isn’t a big deal if the plant wants to produce leaves, just keep in mind that it will be using some nutrients to do so. You can leave it on, just keep an eye out for pests. If it gives you a fruit or two in winter, that’s great! The initial trim back is to reduce chances of pests

  18. I prepped 3 potted pepper plants to winterize indoor (a bell pepper, a jalapeno and a habanero). All three were approximately 3 ft tall and were very productive last season. I removed all remaining fruit, succor branches and leaves, back to three Y branch sections. The plants quickly sprouted new grow, that I did not remove. I since removed the bell pepper plant due to an aphid invasion. The remaing 2 plants put out flowers and a couple young fruit. Come spring, I intend to plant the 2 outdoors in a raised bed. Should I plant them as is (with all their new growth) or, cut them back to the three Y branch conditions they were in when I first move them indoors?

    1. I would plant them as is with the new growth intact. You should still harden them off a bit to allow that foliage to adjust, but it should help the plant rebound quicker

  19. For the last three years, well winters, I’ve simply buried the best of our Zonal and Regal pelargoniums from October through to February, a few might rot but less than one in ten and when lifted had lots of shoots giving a good head start for them.
    I’m going to bury a few sweet pepper plants tomorrow just to see what happens, has anyone tried doing it the easy way?

  20. Hi. Would it be okay to put my hot pepper stump and roots into a pot of damp peat moss instead of potting soil? Thanks. Great information and well presented by the way.

    1. That should work – it might be a bit dense without anything to help aerate it. Usually, you’d add some sand, perlite, or vermiculite in with the peat

  21. Hello Calvin! Very useful Information thank you! I have one question… overwintering pepper plants I am doing for the first time but want to confirm whether the stalks turn brown after it has been indoors for weeks and if no how can I prevent that? I water a lil every week and I have had some new growth on some… but worried now that they may be dying. Any suggestions?

    Much thanks in advance… Silvia

    1. Hey there, so the stems shouldn’t turn brown. If you are very worried, you can try scratching a small portion of the outer bark away to reveal the inside of a stem. If it is brown/dried out throughout, then the plant is likely dead. If it is green underneath the outer skin, it is alive. Try to be gently and not scratch too deep!

  22. When overwintering ghost and black panther ‘s can I use Neem oil only for the root rinse”dunking” or does castile soap need to be added?

  23. A horticultural class instructor recommends using a fogging sprayer and just a bit of hydrogen peroxide in water — Spray weekly for outdoors. Indoors maybe the same

  24. In my early years of chilli growing in the UK i tried overwintering as you have described. Many plants died, and those that survived were weak and took a long time to recover. Since then through experimentation, i have found that bringing plants indoors and trimming moderately works far better. I feed them a little and use a horticultural light on a timer. For many winters i have had plants fruiting throughout the winter. When repotted and planted out in spring they are far healthier, and the crop is excellent. I therefore recommend this alternate method. Just keep them going. Enjoy your beatiful plants all winter and give them a better head start for the coming year!

    1. @Dominic, I was wondering if this work as would have to just bring them in the house and due to the heating etc but hopefully I should get crops continually then

  25. I have a quite a few plants and was hoping I could get buy with a clear tote filled with soil. I’d follow the same procedure trim the roots well and cut them down drastically. This is solely to save on space as I probably could get 8-10 in a tote vs. having to have 20 pots. If some don’t make it I understand. Is this a complete no no or would I be able to get by? Thanks

    1. I’d say it is worth a shot to save space. Might be brilliant actually! Definitely want to be sure to monitor for pests, because if you get an issue, all the plants will likely be affected. Good luck!

  26. Hello Calvin,
    If we don’t have castile soap, can we use Dawn dish soap with the neem oil instead, or would you recommend no substitute and just use a neem oil bath?

    1. I would avoid using dish soap, as it can be harmful to the plant. If you want a complete alternative, you can just get an insecticidal soap such as Safer brand.

  27. Will be trying the process when the temps drop. A couple of questions for you. Do you leave the neem oil and the soap on the roots, or rinse them off. Second, we have an unheated basement, and winter temps are in the mid forties. Is that too cool? There are a couple small windows for light. Thanks.

  28. The only place I have is in a spare bedroom cant change the temperature from the rest of the house. So it maintains a temperature of between 70 and 72 in there. Would that work for overwintering.

    1. Yes, but the plant may try to continue to grow and use more water. With the reduced lighting, the new foliage may become sparse/light-green and not sun-hardy

  29. Excellent information. I’m going to try that in a week or two. I live in the willamette valley in Oregon and the weather has started to change. I’m excited to give this a try. Thank you. God bless.

  30. Thank you for your articles and tips on growing peppers. I grew a variety of peppers this year including hatch, habanero, and bell. My issue is with my jalapeños. They are not hot at all, zero heat. I have 5 or 6 plants spread around the yard in pots and none of them are hot. Could it be the seeds? The hatch and habanero are hot.

    1. I would guess it is the seeds. We rarely have an issue with a hot variety being mild, and more often it can be traced back to the seed source being unreliable. Otherwise, it could perhaps be a lack of sunlight, but given that others are hot, I doubt it!

    2. @Lynne, jalapenos that are left to grow large are milder in heat as to smaller peppers. Smaller jalapenos are hotter than the larger ones.

  31. My jalapeños and Carolina reapers are in the same pot that is on my deck. Is the option for overwintering the same. But just bring the entire pot inside. Also as I live in an apartment I do not have a cool space. The apartment is the same temp as the rest of the place. Advise, please

    1. You can still overwinter, but I would expect some bugs to come in with the soil. Also, if you were to try to detangle the roots, you may cause some damage. Maybe just try bringing it indoors and soaking the soil with an insecticide beforehand

  32. I’m in 6 and I’ve had 8 years of good-phenomenal pepper crops. I honestly can’t find anybody online who has gotten yields like I regularly do, and I compost plants every year. This year I’m photographing and sharing my progress, and the Cayenne’s, Ghosts, and Habeneros are almost unnaturally productive. I’ve gotta be at the limit on every nutrient combined with ungodly good soil on my family farm. I ran into problems about 8 weeks in. My ag extension identified it as TSWV, or tomato spotted wilt virus. The varieties that had a head start, and continue to grow fast enough to outrun it are still producing, but it’s spread by insects and is a horrible thing to watch happen. Look up some photos, that’s what I’ve got. I decided to abandon ANY overwintering efforts and to compost nothing. It’s been abnormally wet which certainly contributes, and my always tighter spacing has finally come home to roost. Assuming I correct these, and that a full soil change in my display beds (118′ sq.) is impossible, what’s my best bet? The phrase “Dogs will make a liar out of you every time” seemed to apply to everything that my totally superior form of hubris touches lol.

    1. That’s a shame! I think it is the right call to avoid composting the plants and to burn them if you can. Viruses are a pain. I would look into disease resistant cultivars, specifically for the TSWV. Even if you just grow 1 or 2 resistant varieties, at least you’ll have some peace of mind. Best of luck!

  33. What if i have an unheated greenhouse, that i’m going to attempt to keep temps at night some what stable with compost pile heat sink and cover plants with some heavy mil poly and shade cloth or mix of materials. in case the compost pile experiment goes bad.
    should i be trimming the plants back at all? or attempt to just let them go about their winter days and protect them to a certain level of ‘do not go below temp”?
    1st year pepper growing, also first year with the greenhouse. total beginner on both. any advice is much appreciated.

  34. Dug up, pruned, roots trimmed, washed off, disinfected with neem soln, repotted in new mix, ready for over wintering inside. Let’s see how many survive as it’s pretty brutal. They should go dormant. Still have habanero, some capsicums and eggplant to do. What was interesting was how shallow most of the roots were. Shows I watered too frequently and for too short a time. Next year I’ll water deeply far less often to encourage the roots to go deeper. That’s why most of the jalapeños needed staking.

  35. Claire Groom in her post “HOW TO OVERWINTER HOT PEPPER PLANTS” says to take care not to disturb the rootball when repotting for overwintering. What do you think of her approach compared to yours regarding washing all the old soil off the roots before overwintering?

    1. If you are overwintering in a location that doesn’t have other plants (like a basement, etc.) then you don’t have as much to worry about in the way of pests. However, when you bring the plants back to your grow space in Spring, if any insects have overwintered with your soil, you might be in for an unpleasant surprise! Hence why we prefer to clean out the soil. You can also drench the soil with insecticidal soap in lieu of repotting.

  36. I live in Zone 8, my jalapeño was overwintered but there is no growth coming out the end of the branches, I have a single leave appearing from the main trunk but all the branches at top have nothing. Will the leaves appear eventually or only from the main trunck? Should the leaves have appeared already?

  37. I repotted 3 varieties of peppers for overwintering. Two grew leaves and flowered initially, the jalapeno did nothing. Now on April 1, all are without leaves and the stems look brown and shriveled. Only the jalapeno,
    shows areas of green on the stem. What should I do to revive them for spring?

    1. Hmm, they could be dead. If you scratch away a part of the lower stem and it is brown underneath, the plant is likely a goner. This can happen from underwatering, or from the temperatures dipping too low. Otherwise, they should wake up if brought into a warm and bright room. The foliage should become a deeper green and new shoots should form within a week or two.

  38. It is mid February here and we will not have our pepper plants outdoors till the end of May. should I keep going with what I have been doing all winter, or should I start to give them some time under the grow lights? If not now, when should I do that? Will they keep going in their winter state for 3 more months?

    1. You can start giving them some light, but they will likely grow fast once they are in warmer temperatures and under lights, so be prepared for the size!

  39. I would like to overwinter my pepper plants but I don’t have any space in my house to do this. I only have two options. First, if the zone I live in matters it’s 7b.

    The first option I thought about was to try and pot them and stick them in a shed I have. There is no insulation or windows and no convenient way to run any sort of grow light to them. I only have two jalapeno, two pablonos and three “green pepper” type plants. So not a lot, but more than I want to deal with if this won’t work.

    My other idea would be wonderful if you think this would work. We can have pretty mild winters here. It’s November 3rd and it’s finally going to hit freezing temps tomorrow night. I’m wondering if I can take tomato cages I already have and make little greenhouses for the plants. Would they survive that way?

    I hope you see this in time. If I don’t act tomorrow I don’t know that it matters what I do.

  40. Followed your recommendations for some decorative peppers. I tried overwintering last year by leaving the soil, but didn’t have any survive. I think this was mostly due to my care or lack of. So, back to this year. I removed all the soil and repotted them in sterilized potting soil. All four plants looked good for the two days, now all the leaves have wilted and the plants look awful. I had not yet pruned them for hibernation. Have I killed them?

  41. Worked great. Too well. In 2 weeks it’s already trying to grow leaves. Should I remove them as they grow?

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