Are Pepper plants perennials? Which ones?

HighlanderNorthJune 24, 2011

I always though that peppers were the same as most other garden plants that you buy at garden centers, annuals. I thought you plant them in the spring, they grow, produce peppers, then die in fall like most everything else.

About a week ago, I stopped by a local mulch company to get prices, and by the door there were a bunch of small pots with peppers and tomatoes. They were all between 2 - 3.5 feet tall.

But in the middle, there was a very large pot, about 26 inches in diameter and 24 inches tall. In this pot was a 6.5 foot tall bush. It had a thick truck with brown bark, thick foliage especially at the top half, and very thick leaves. It also had lots of small purple flowers. I couldnt figure out what it was at first, but its leaves looked familiar. Then I compared it's leaves to the small peppers, and realized they look the same.

So when I walked in, I asked the worker there if the large bush was a pepper, and he said "yes". I asked how it got that big, and he said that they just bring it and a few others in every winter, and leave them by a sunny window, then bring them back outside in spring. It was HUGE!

So my question is: Are ALL pepper plants(chili peppers and bell peppers) perennials, or are some annuals? If so, which are perennials?

I have both Tam Jalapenos and Poblano/Anchos, and I'd like to bring one or more inside in the winter if they will continue to grow(perennials)....

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Yes, all peppers are perennials. If you give them the proper conditions they will grow and flower and fruit constantly till their conditions are no longer met. On another forum a member posted pictures of a tepin type pepper that was over 9 years old and absolutely massive. Of course this member was in Australia and could grow the plant in the ground outside year round.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2011 at 3:51PM
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All are perennials if you give them the right climate - meaning keep them above freezing and give them some light. Check out some of the overwintering threads on here. Many folks keep chile plants several years. Due to lack of space issues, they cut the growth and roots back in the fall and put them in smaller pots and give them less light (essentially making them dormant until spring), but you can keep them alive for several years.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2011 at 2:39AM
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bunnyman(Thumb of MI)

They make sometimes amazing houseplants! Even in the dark Michigan winter days my pepper plants are green and leafy by their window. I have double glass doors going to the back deck that I fill with plants for over wintering.

This year I potted all my new peppers as I expect to keep the best plant year 'round. Replaced a 5 y/o cayenne that I let die last fall... new plants were grown from that seed.

Hitting them with bloom builder plant food almost always causes the cayenne to put out a batch of peppers even in the middle of winter.

I have a Red Savina which does not have much flavor but it is a monster of a potted plant... and it taught my cats not the bite the peppers.

The bigger the pot the bigger your pepper plant will grow. I use old plastic coffee jugs and get nice window sized plants. Old Red is in a large pot so it grew huge... a floor plant for sure.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 1:00PM
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I see this an old thread, but it is the same subject that I'm seeking info for.

I live I SE Wisconsin and this past late winter I germinated several different varieties of chili peppers. They are: Tepin, Pequin, Zimbabwe, Guajillio, Pasilla Bajio, Del Arbol, and Buht.

They all grew into healthy plants, and have produced an abundance of fruit so far. They are still flowering, but our days are getting shorter and the temps are going to start get colder with each passing week. All the plants are outside in grow bag.

I have a greenhouse and it can be heated. Last winter I transplanted a dozen pepper plants (jalapeno, bell and wax) from the garden into pots and kept them going until about mid December. By then there was simply not enough light (I think) and they just stopped growing. I removed all the fruit and pruned them and kept them in shade until March of this year. 8 of them came back to life and produced fruit this in early summer.

I want my exotic pepper plants to live a long time. I have a total of 20 plants and I plan to put in larger pots in the next week or so. I planned to bring into the greenhouse when the night temps start to dip into the 40's. That will happen soon here. My question is should I make them go dormant or should I keep them happy through the winter? I can add lights and I can maintain a 65 degree night temp without breaking the bank.

I'm not too concerned about having fresh peppers in winter as I am about obtaining a (large) healthy plant for years to come. Any advice would be greatly appreciated...

Thanks everyone.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2012 at 1:16PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

IMO it depends on the light. Most artificial lights output in the wrong part of the spectrum. Incandescents are all red and yellow. Fluorescents are better, but still not great. Even bright light can be insufficient to feed a producing plant. The result would be spindly growth and poor production. If you want producing plants through the winter, you'll need to invest in some high output daylights.

Better just to go for the semi-dormancy. You can try to support full foliage, but may need to trim back. Or go the full bonsai route. I've had some success overwintering, but am no expert - except for this: Don't forget to water! If they are in a garden room out of sight, it's all too easy to do.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2012 at 1:30PM
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Thanks DMF for your reply.

When I pruned the pepper plants last Dec I pruned them heavily, as in, I left nothing but 8 to 10 inches of stem. Is that what is normally recommended for overwintering? I'd hate to cut even an inch off any of my plants, all but the Zimbabwe and Bhut are over 30 inches tall.

For overwintering peppers, is pruning necessary? If I don't prune, and make them go dormant, will they simply loose their foliage? Will the foliage regrow on the old stem?

Sorry for the questions, but I have never overwintered anything until last year. But 4 plants didn't make it.

What amount of sunlight is needed to keep them happy and growing, even if they don't flower during the winter. Last fall my peppers spent 2 months in the greenhouse without any additional lighting and they were happy until late Nov, and then I began to see no more growth. I suspected it was the fewer hours of daylight that slowed the growth so that was when I decided to prune them and put them to bed for the winter. I'm wondering now what they would have done if I had not pruned them.

Speaking of daylight, the shortest day of the year for us here in SE Wis is 9 hours of sunlight. I don't know if that is enough for pepper plants to be somewhat happy.

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2012 at 8:22PM
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Well, it has to do with space more than anything else, really. While its true that peppers don't really go 100% dormant like say a grape vine does, which means it is constantly having to use energy to support leaves and stems even when slowed down for the winter indoors, its still more about the fact you could store 3-4 pruned peppers in the same space as one unpruned one.

However, there are some definite advantages to pruning for the winter beyond just whats best for the plant during the actual winter. Lots of pruning forces the plant to be shorter and bushier with a thicker, stronger central trunk system. That means it will withstand things like windstorms much easier than a spindly pepper would.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2012 at 8:42PM
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nuwanda(New Zealand)

Here's a story.

I tried to overwinter two habs. They haven't exactly died, but they look pretty sorry as of spring in the southern hemisphere.

But, I left my old plants outside, in their containers, all through the winter, which is just now ending.

All of them went brittle and brown. They are dead. But there's one plant, a thing called "Chilli Fire", that although brown at its extremities, has shown some slight green growth lower down. I'm sure it'll shout up in the coming warmer months.

Go figure.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 4:38AM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

cim_ram there are some good overwintering threads nearby with pruning pics.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 9:29PM
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