Overwintering my Bhut Jolokia... Picture included...

BrewJolokiaJuly 22, 2014

So although it's only July, I want to ask about winterizing my ghost pepper plant now. I am new to growing hot peppers and noticed some people giving advice on this topic on other sites. They mention pruning the plant to its original y. But if you can see on my plant, it is actually more of a bush. I purchased the plant when it was about 6 inches tall and am thinking maybe it was a trimming with a root agent? The original "plant" is actually the branch with all the peppers on it and the other 4 branches basically all shot out of the base of the plant. I'm hopeful that those branches become full with peppers this year as they all have a single pepper at least on each. I have only pulled 2 peppers off the plant so far. But those were very large, about 4 inches each in fact. I guess my question(s) is do you all prune them down for the winter? What light source do you use if any? Do they go dormant much like a banana tree when I could cover them with a trash bag and water once a month? (That's about my only experience with overwintering). I appreciate the help in advance and will gladly post more pics if needed.

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BrewJolokia

A picture of the base to get a better idea that there isn't so much a "trunk".

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 5:30PM
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Persimmons(6b Southern Mass)

Bump for this post, as I'm lucky to have a few Jolokia and Moruga scorpions growing that would be awesome to save..

I grow mine in the ground, and had intentions to heavily insulate with leaves or mulch in the winter time and immediately cover with a cold frame at the end of winter (to spike the temp for it)

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 5:36PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

You can't over winter in the ground in MO. You will have to dig them and put in pots.

What you are reading about hacking up your plants for the winter is (usually) way too radical. How far you should go depends totally on whether you have the room and can afford the light etc that they need. Tell us a lot more about your situation.

Dennis

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 6:32PM
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BrewJolokia

Well mine is in a bucket. I think my first picture was taken off my post somehow but I will put it back up. As far as what I can afford I'm not sure I follow. I'm just interested in the easiest and best way to keep a few pepper plants alive over winter. I don't really need them to have pods year round. I just want to keep benefiting from this particular plant and also a scorpion I have. It's currently in a 5 gallon bucket and have room in my basement so that's why I was asking about light. Would a simple fluorescent light do the trick for the winter?

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 8:37PM
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BrewJolokia

Here is the trinidad. It's just in a 2 gallon pot because honestly I didn't even want a large yield of this particular level of heat lol. I'm glad to hear pruning everything back seems a bit radical to someone else. I was hoping basically just bringing them in and even the natural sunlight through a window for this smaller plant would suffice. How often do you water and is there any feeding before or during you might suggest?

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 9:00PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Later in the season, when the weather is still warm enough for outdoor growth, prune your plant down to a manageable size - manageable, to me, means that I can sit it next to a sunny window with light hitting the entire plant.

I prune two weeks before bare-rooting and re-potting. Once new growth is showing on the pruned plant, re-pot. Remove all garden soil / old potting mix, rinse the roots and prune them back so they fit into a smaller container. The point of reducing the pot size is to ensure that the volume of mix will dry out in a timely fashion during the long gloomy Winter indoors. This allows you to water and fertilize (reduced strength) all Winter, which keeps the plant vital and lush.

Note, if you're overwintering in a warmer zone, or in a greenhouse, et cetera, you may not need to take as many precautions as those of us who bring our plants indoors for the Winter.

Josh

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 12:16PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

Yeah, there are several ways to over winter. I don't bare-root or re-pot at all, with minimal pruning. But that's because I have the room for full-size plants.

All things considered, a fluorescent light in the basement could keep a plant alive. In that scenario what kills them more than low light is over watering.

Try it. You'll probably be successful.

Dennis

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 2:28PM
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BrewJolokia

Thanks To both Dennis and Josh. I am an electrician and have loads of old fixtures around. Figured I could rig something with a timer up easily enough and just hit the plant once a month with water if that. Being in a basement should be cool but not cold and probably damp enough to hold the majority of the moisture. I didn't know what to expect from these 2 but overall have been pleased and would love to see second year production. I already froze the largest pods coming off the plant and am looking forward to the other peppers to make a mash. Fingers crossed for a lot more.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 2:43PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

If the mix holds moisture long enough that you only have to water once a month, chances are good that there will be significant root-rot. Overwatering isn't quite what kills a pepper plant - rather, a potting mix / soil that holds excess moisture for too long.

The other issue is that of pests and disease when bringing the outdoor pots and their soil into the house. Even with bare-rooting, I still battle aphids during the Winter months.

Josh

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 4:24PM
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BrewJolokia

Tough to say. I just used miracle grow veg and flower soil. Like I said I am just getting started at this so i will do a little research on that particular soil.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 5:52PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

If you do use that heavy type of soil, you should add a LOT of perlite....like 70% perlite.

Josh

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 10:42PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

That's a good point. You could bare-root with intention of switching to a lighter soil. I use Miracle Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix unless I'm mixing my own (which is a whole different topic). it's not perfect but will be better for over wintering than a heavy soil.

Dennis

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 12:28PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Moisture Control is one of the absolute worst potting mixes, Dennis. As the name implies, it holds *way* too much moisture for wintering plants in a state of reduced activity. Watering a plant every day is fine...as long as oxygen is returning quickly to the root-zone. And that's the issue. Garden soil, Moisture Control, Coir...these mixes hold water in the root-zone and suffocate those all-important roots.

Josh

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 12:46PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

That is not my experience with it, which has been extensive. (I have to say that the product varies depending on what part of the country you are in so YMMV.) Given my druthers, though, I'd mix in a fair amount of perlite.

So what bagged product do you think is significantly better?

Dennis

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 1:10PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

You know I'm not a fan of bagged mixes, in general....but Fafard's heavyweight line has two mixes that are quite decent...the Nursery Mix and the 51L. Otherwise, LOTS of Perlite as an amendment to reduce water-holding capacity in peat-based mixes.

Note also that my comments are concerning overwintering when plants aren't as active and when temperature and light tend to be low.

Josh

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 5:24PM
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