moving peppers back outside
Last year was my first year growing much of anything, and I chose to start with peppers. I grew seven varieties, and all-in-all I was happy with how it went. I brought in five of my best plants to overwinter, hoping to get a head start on the growing season this year. I haven't been so happy with how that has gone. Once the plants were inside and isolated from predators, a serious aphid problem developed. I was able to mostly resolve that with some ladybugs, but it was hard on the plants. I'm also not sure they've gotten as much light as they would've liked. Leaves have continued to turn brownish-yellow, shrivel and drop off throughout the course of the winter, on some plants more than others, despite regular watering (but not overwatering) and occasional fertilizer. In any event, my plants are now looking fairly sad -- some much worse than others -- with lots of unealthy looking leaves and, in a couple cases, quite a few bare branches. I've started to move them back outside. The threat of a freeze has passed, and being indoors just does not seem to agree with these guys.
With that said, I have a couple questions. First, with respect to the leafless branches that I mentioned: should I prune theme, or just leave them be? Will they regrow leaves?
Second, I had to trim back the root ball on one of the plants when I repotted it to bring it inside. As I was moving it back into a bigger pot last night, I noticed that the root ball is still quite small (which wasn't a big surprise). What can I do to encourage root development now that the plant is back outside and in a big pot, with plenty of room to grow?
Third, any general tips on how to treat these guys as I transition them back outside, in order to encourage them to grow well and produce lots of peppers this year? Again, remember that I'm a real newbie, so don't be afraid to state the obvious.