Over-Wintering Ghost Pepper

ilazria(6a)January 11, 2014

I have a ghost pepper that I'm trying to overwinter. It was holding up better at first, but now I'm starting to worry. I potted it up into a big tug tub, gave it a bit of fertilizer, and try to keep the soil damp, but not soaked. I water maybe 1-2 times a week, just enough to make sure the soil doesn't get dry. It's in an area of the garage I have enclosed as a kind of greenhouse, with space heaters keeping the temps around 70-80 degrees. It gets light from about 8am to 10pm. The leaves are starting to get dry and whither at the ends, and many are falling off. I expected it to drop the remaining flowers when I brought it in, and maybe a few leaves, but now it's shedding like it's a tree in fall! Am I not watering enough? Does it need more fertilizer? I really want to keep this plant going!

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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Howdy! Posting a pic helps us with diagnosis/prognosis.

It's probably going to shed all of its leaves. Let the leaves drop, and stop watering so much. You might only need to moisten the soil every two or three weeks if the plant isn't active. I would not fertilize. A big container holds moisture longer and will sometimes lead to root-rot.

I have a Yellow Ghost in my garage, in the cold, barely any light. At first I just left it to ripen the remaining pods, but now I might see if I can revive it this Spring...it'll save me the trouble of getting another started. The leaves are gone, I hardly water, but I do drag it outdoors for sun on those bare stems whenever the temps are 60F or better.

Josh

    Bookmark   January 11, 2014 at 11:22PM
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tomt226

I have one in the GH in a large pot that I cut back by 2/3's before it went in just before turkey day. It's got new growth all over it. I keep the GH at 50, but solar heating allows the temps to climb to 90 before the exhaust fan kicks in. I water it once every two weeks. I've got four more that I've hooped with EMT and plastic outside. Cut'em back the same amount. No leaves yet, but when you scrape the bark, it's green, so they're alive. We had two straight days of 20 degree weather, and it didn't seem to bother'em. I don't think yours can support the foliage without higher temps...

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 5:57AM
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ilazria(6a)

Here's a picture of it, in it's pot.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 1:13PM
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ilazria(6a)

This is a close up of it's leaves.

Some of the stems are completely devoid of leaves at this point. I had also started to air layer a piece about a month ago, in case saving the whole plant didn't work. I'm thinking at this point, it's probably not going to work since there are so many other stresses on the plant.

I'm guessing I should cut it back some, so there's less plant for the roots to take care of. It seems to be doing that on it's own anyway, as the tips of some of the branches are now drying out. From what you all have said so far, I guess I also need to water less, and just let it shed leaves? As long as the stems stay green, it's still alive, and can rebound in the late spring/summer? I live in Pittsburgh, and the growing season is somewhat short. I was hoping to keep it growing, but not flowering or fruiting, to give it the most time possible to fruit when I can move it outside, but I'm guessing that's just not going to happen.

If anyone has any more advice, or warnings in case I'm doing something wrong, please fill me in.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 1:25PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Don't cut it back now - too much stress. Let it die back naturally, then prune off the tips once it is growing again this Spring. Next year, if you overwinter, cut your plants back in the Fall so that the cuts can heal and so that the plants can kick into growth-mode before the onset of Winter.

Is that rock mulch on top of the mix? Get rid of it. You want the mix to be airing out, drying, as much as possible during the Winter.

Looks like most overwintering plants look. Has a hell of a lot more leaves than my Ghost :-)

Josh

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 1:54PM
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ilazria(6a)

Yeah, I put some pea gravel on the top, because I thought I needed to keep it a little moist, and to keep the cats from using it as a litter box. Now that it's in my "greenhouse" the cats haven't been able to get to it. I'll take the gravel off and let it dry more. I'm glad to know that it's doing what it's supposed to , and should hopefully be alive when the new growing season starts. Thanks!

    Bookmark   January 12, 2014 at 3:08PM
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Elbourne(8b)

I over wintered mine for a few years by just bringing it inside on the rare nights that we go below freezing. If I remember right, the first year it lost almost all of its leaves. It never got very bushy after that. I don't do much with it except for top off the 5 gallon pot with worm castings a couple times a year. I didn't even water it unless we went a couple weeks without rain. I got fruit from it every year, but nothing like that first year. I do not know if that was natural, or just my lack of care.

It went down to a record 17 F last week and I wasn't home to bring it in. I probably lost it this time.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 4:05PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

> "I water maybe 1-2 times a week"

NO! I've watered maybe once or twice ALL WINTER. (Of course, I did leave them out in the rain a couple times....) The Poblano is in a pot that is too small so has asked for water twice, but the Alma is in a pot that is too big so hasn't asked for water all.

Bottom line: DON'T WATER on a schedule. Let the plant tell you when it is dry. Let it wilt and look pitiful. Then water it.

Dennis

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 5:53PM
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thepodpiper

Some good advice above. This is how i overwinter, when I did do it. Wont do it anymore though. Cut it back only leaving the largest stem put a small 23 watt CFL light about 4 or 5 inches from it and leave it on to keep it warm and give it the light it needs. Light duration is up to u. If you need to keep it warm leave it on 24/7 it will not effect the plant, if you can do 12/12 that is probably best though. The plant is going dormant so do not water it within 2 to 4 weeks you will start to see new growth..

this is plant above in it's second year.

This is a larger Habanero tree that I overwintered for years and every year I cut it back except the branches that I wanted to keep to shape the tree.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 8:49PM
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tomt226

I like how you head trained that hab. I do some bougainvillea's like that too. Never thought about doing a pepper like that.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 5:57AM
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thepodpiper

Tom, that is a habanero tree that is how it grows.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 7:45PM
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bob_in_pc(z8 FL)

First of all, I don't cut them that far back. I may trim dead branches and pull off dead leaves, but I don't trim them back that much. I do not fertilize either. I am of the dormancy theory and am just wanting them to tweak by until spring. I protect them from cold, freezing weather and make sure they get just enough water.

I don't repot neither. I'll do this in the spring when I trim the plant and the roots.

You'll still lose some anyway - part of the experience.

I learned this through 20+ years of doing this.

Hope this advice helps...

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 10:13PM
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tomt226

Podpiper,
That's interesting. I didn't know habs had a tree form. Is there a name for that particular variety?
Please forgive my ignorance, I'm only three years into this...

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 5:46AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Yes, Tom, they're simply called Tree Habanero, Habanero Tree, Habanero de Arbol :-)

Josh

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 11:27AM
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thepodpiper

TomT226, you should enable your email address so people can contact you. You would be surprised at what fellow chili heads will give away.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 10:03PM
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tomt226

greenman28,
LMAO...

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 5:57AM
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tomt226

podpiper,
Done.
I'll be expecting freebies and the Zen of capsaicin... ;-)

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 6:02AM
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Ghostjuice

Hello! Iam new to ghost pepper plants and a little baffled. I stared the peppers last June and is now end of January. I know it was late in the season...wanted to see if the seeds I had would grow! I've put them in larger Pots as matured and gave them bone meal once a week, watered twice a week, kept heating pad under them with proper humitity. also put LED lights on in evenings. The plants grew fast with lots of buds and flowers on them for the last few months. Flowers always fell off and Now I have noticed the leaves are turning redish brown with black spots. Also feeling rubbery and wilting. It has been winter since October and spring doesn't come until May. So I guess my question is;
why didn't the plants grow fruit and what do you think I should do??

I'll post a few pics...

Thanks a bunch! Scott

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 11:49AM
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Ghostjuice

Another pic.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 11:59AM
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Ghostjuice

Another pic.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 12:01PM
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thepodpiper

Stop ferting and ease up on the watering. Watering indoor plants should be once a month unless they are bone dry. I don't think the lights u are using are best for producing pods. Exactly what lights are you using and how many of them?

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 4:41PM
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Ghostjuice

I used miracle grow soil in the last pot upgrade about a month ago.
I use one white light for heat and two led grow lights that claim to give off the red and blue.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 12:03AM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

Where are you? I.e. how long before you can put them outside?

    Bookmark   January 25, 2014 at 5:46PM
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don555(3a)

Ghostjuice: I think... no, I am certain, that you have to pollinate the flowers manually if you are growing them inside. There are no bees, no wind pollination, etc. Get a Q-tip or mini paint brush and brush it from flower to flower, every two days or so. Otherwise, your chances on them setting fruit indoors are close to zero.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 3:14AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

I gather from various comments here that if the purpose of overwintering is just to keep it alive til the coming plant out time, THEN you should try to keep it BARELY ALIVE by Top pruning, root pruning, keeping it in a cold place ..ec.

I have done just a small ornamental (sangria ) and a couple of others kept in the cold frame as an experiment.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 8:52AM
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Ghostjuice

I live in a igloo with polar bears lol way up in northern Manitoba Canada. I won't see spring until May. On record, this has been the coldest winter yet. Tempature has been -45 -50 for the last two months. Brrrrr! I stopped watering the peppers for a week and all the leaves pointed strait down and curled up. I watered them last night and by morning they perked back to life! Ill try out the pollination and keep you posted;)
Greatly appreciated!
Ghostjuice.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 11:16AM
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thepodpiper

Don555, peppers are self pollinating and need no assistance no matter where you grow them. They are both male and female.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 11:10AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

While that is true, a fan or circulating air (or shaking the plant) will allow the pollen to get where it needs to go.

Josh

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 11:21AM
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thepodpiper

When I isolate buds i dip them in liquid latex rubber before they even open. Everything is already where it needs to be, that is the way nature designed them. My opinion is that all a fan would do is help to cross pollinate. JMO.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 8:22PM
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