End of Season: A Guide To Harvesting and Over Wintering Your Pepper Plants

When the autumn is approaching, it is time to bring in chili plants indoors and let the last chili peppers ripen indoors. The harvest will be much larger and richer in this way as chili plants usually has the most fruit during the autumn and temperature lower than 12 degrees substantially slows down the plant’s ability to produce fruits.

Chili plants in containers

Peppers in containers (Photo: Maja Dumat)

Just before temperature at night drops to around about 8-10 degrees tend to be the right time to pick up the pots and take them indoors. If you have the opportunity, it is best to acclimate them slowly by bringing your chili plants indoors during the night, and let them be out for a while in the daytime.

But if you think this is laborious it is okay to just pick up them directly and bring them to where you plan to over winter them. Place the chili plants at a bright and cooler place. For example, in a window, without an radiator too close.

Unfortunately, chili plants tend to be infected by both the lice and flower flies. It is advised to check them over when you pick them up. If you see any signs of these bugs, spray the plants with soap water. Just add a couple of drops of soap in a pint of water. Put the soap water in a spray bottle!

Usually, the problems arise when the plants are taken in. The lower temperature you can have, the less chance that the problems occur. It usually also be good to cut off  some leaves and trim the plants lightly when they are taken in. Additionally, it is good to remove the top layer of soil to remove moss and other things that gathered on the surface of the soil. After the plants are moved indoors, it might be good to let the pots dry up some before watering. Especially if you want your peppers to be as hot as possible! Drier pepper plants produces hotter fruits. Another way to increase the heat is to let the pods on the plant longer after they received their red. However, you should really remember to harvest take, at the latest , when you can see that the tip begins to wrinkle. They may otherwise they shrivel away.

Storing chili peppers: drying

One of the best way to store the chili, that you don’t plan to use directly, is to dry them. It is both simple and decorative. Use a piece of string and  attach  the first the fruit’s stem, tie the next about where you see to the last the tip ends, and continue so, with all the fruits. You can make your chili thread as far or short as you feel fit. Hang up your strings on a wall in the kitchen, behind the stove, hanging from a lamp or in any other decorative way.

Over wintering your chili plants

When the last chili fruits are harvested you can cut down your pepper plants a bit more. Especially if it looks a bit “sad”: hibernate it. Many plants are fine the whole winter through. Plants that are more or less cut down to the stem will grow again in the spring time. Therefore, they are definitely worth keeping.

You should also water the chili plants quite sparingly during the winter. It is, however, important that they have a lot of light. Therefore, we recommend that you put your plants where it gets a lot of sun. Another option is, of course, to buy a grow light or two (depending on how many plants you bring in for the winter).

We have successfully over wintered chili plants using both low energy and LED lights.

Saving your plants rather than throw them away increases the chance for an even richer and earlier harvest next year. But you’ll have to do something with the harvested fruit, right?  See our guide for Drying Chili Peppers!

We look forward to February/march when it is time for the next growing season!

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