pruning for overwintering

thinkstoomuch(6)September 30, 2010

I'm fairly new to gardening, and have been reading up about overwintering peppers. I plan to attempt this with my bell peppers and one hot pepper plant. I have a couple of questions:

1. I plan to take the route of drastic pruning to prep the plant for overwintering. Right now my plants have several peppers that are not ripe. Do I repot,bring inside, wait for them to ripen and then prune back? Or do I prune everything now,repot and bring inside?

2. I've chosen to use a mix of bark, perlite, pumice and quartz for my mix, as suggested on this forum. Unless I'm missing something, it seems like pumice is more of a west coast thing (I'm on the east coast). I don't think I'm going to have much luck locating it. What could I use instead?

3. Is quartz rock simply aquarium quartz rock? Or is there some special horticultural product I should be looking for?

I plan to work on this over the weekend, as our killing frosts will begin soon. The average first frost here is early October.

Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Regards,

Kim

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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Good morning, Kim!

I would typically remove the fruit and prune the plant down for the winter.
This way, the plant puts its energy into root-making and new foliage, instead
of tapping its last reserves to ripen those final pods.

If the pods are very close to ripening, go ahead and re-pot, let the pods color up,
then pluck and prune the plant down.

I think that Pumice is definitely more available on the west coast.
There are some alternatives to Pumice, which you might have more luck finding.
First would be Turface MVP. I'll link to the Turface Locator on the web-site.
I bought two 50 pound bags of Turface this spring, and I've been using it in my mixes.

Turface holds more water than Pumice, so you'd want to use less Turface in your mix.

Another product is an oil absorbent marketed by Napa Auto Parts - item #8822.

The quartz gravel is just crushed quartzite. Granite chips are excellent, as well.
Aquarium gravel can work, too, as long as it's not coated in a shiny substance.
The gravel displaces water, holds the soil open for aeration and drainage,
adds weight to the planting to keep the pepper stable while the roots colonize
the new soil mix, and has sharp edges that are conducive to root-development
(small abrasions lead to branching root-hairs).

Let us know what's available in your area, and I'll bet we can put together a well-made mix.

Josh

Here is a link that might be useful: Turface Distributors

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 10:00AM
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John11840(z6/CT)

Thnikstoomuch, Seems like you're making it too hard. If the plants are already in pots, leave them in their pots. If they are in the ground now, find some gravel outside. Put in the bottom of your pot and fill it with an already prepared potting mix such as ProMix (sometimes I even mix that with some top soil). I would suggest using a mix without fertilizer added. If the existing pods are of any size at all, leave them alone - they'll ripen. Then you can prune. Do you plan to put them in a sunny window so they continue to grow or in a dark place so they go dormant? Just my 2 cents worth!
John A

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 10:40AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Definitely do not put a layer of gravel in the bottom of the pot.
Gravel layers impede drainage and create a saturated column of soil immediately above the gravel.
Pepper plants, especially during the winter, do not grow well in heavy, wet soils.

Fungus gnats and other pests proliferate in peat moss based soils, so I would also avoid pre-bagged mixes.

Josh

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 12:20PM
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thinkstoomuch(6)

Thanks to both Josh and John. I appreciate your time. I didn't mean to stir up the waters here..........sorry!

To answer your questions......my plants are currently in the ground. My intention is to bring them inside to keep them alive. I'm not looking for super growth over the winter. I'll keep them in my living area, which is generally in the mid to upper 60 degree range through the winter. I'll put some cheap shop lights over them.

It appears i'll be able to locate Turface. Thank you. What sort of stores carry quartz gravel???

Kim

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 2:02PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

No worries!

I just wanted to present all the information available to keep your plants from rotting.
In the colder parts of the country, choosing a fast-draining soil mix is more crucial.
When it comes to indoor plants, I say throw grower convenience out the window ;)

Josh

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 3:31PM
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thinkstoomuch(6)

Did some searching today. From what I've read on these forums, Turface MVP is the same as Turface Allsport. I am able to get Allsport locally.

It seems also that a product called Gran-I-Grit can be used for quartz. Is that right? If so, I cannot get the grower size. I can only get starter and developer/layer. Seems like the starter is too small. The developer/layer is 3/16" - 5/16". Is the developer size too large?

Kim

    Bookmark   September 30, 2010 at 4:38PM
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