Bringing Peppers Indoors For Winter in Northeast

vinnyc(7 LINY)September 30, 2005

Temps in the 40's last night got me to thinking about bringing in my pepper plants for the winter. I have two plants I grew from seeds I got from India, and a cayenne that's coming in for the fourth winter. I usually do a little pruning in stages to get the plants into manageable size, then pot them up in commercial potting soil for the winter. I grow them under florescent lights in the basement, and don't let them bear any fruit to keep the stress down. I'm curious about how others may do it.

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opqdan(z5 NE OH)

I keep my plants in pots year round and bring them inside during the winter. I actually just moved mine in last night as out first frost date is the 5th. I don't prune them, and they will probably die back a little, but I found last year that the less I messed with them, the better they survived. I never really thought that flourescents were powerfull enough for a good sized plant (my habanero is almost 3 feet tall, 2 feet diameter). I put mine in a sunny south facing window (I've has east work also), and don't even let them flower.

I'm a little worried about them this year because a couple of weeks ago the foliage started turning yellow. Since then they have actually grown a lot of new growth that has been very dark green, this is what I don't want to prune off. We'll see if it can survive at this size. I hope so, cause I love this thing like a child.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2005 at 5:06PM
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naturalstuff(Z6 / CT)

Thats a great question. I was going to ask how long will they produce for outside. It's been hitting mid 40's at night.

Maybe I should bring it in but I have no grow light.

I noticed they are setting fruit well in the cold out there.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2005 at 9:54PM
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vinnyc(7 LINY)

Since I don't let them bear fruit in the winter, the major advantage to taking them inside is that they are very strong, large plants after a year or two. The big cayenne that I have is about 5 feet tall and four feet wide, and the stem is probably 1 3/4" in diameter, and woody, almost like a little tree. It bears several hundred peppers every year, about 4" long and 1/2 diameter at the stem, very hot. Once they are a few years old, you can put them out early in the season, much earlier than I'd put a new transplant out, and they shrug off even low 40's temps. They bear much earlier, too. I usually have ripe peppers in early to mid July, whereas with first year transplants, sometimes I never get fruit. The reason I put them back in the ground every spring is that I find container grown plants to be very sensitive to water, and if I don't water them every day, they wilt, and sometimes drop all their leaves, which is mostly fatal.
Regarding the lighting setup, I use two, two bulb shop lights, right close to the tops of the plants, and they seem to do fine. When I've tried them in the window in the past, they didn't seem to do as well, although my Kaffir lime tree does fine in the south facing window in winter.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2005 at 8:58AM
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opqdan(z5 NE OH)

To control the water issue with my plants, I use fairly large pots (>15 gallons) and I mulch the surface of the soild with stones. A lot of water is lost through evaporation of the soil and this can cause compaction and a hard shell on the surface, the rocks keep this from happening. They also minimoze soil transfer onto the peppers and leaves.

That pepper sounds awesome. I only hope that I can coax my hab into growing that large. It was damaged while young so rather than a single large stem it has 5 stems ranging from 1/4" to 1/2". Without storing them indoors over the winter, I would never get some varieties to ripen before frost.

I just moved on the first of October, so I have a new location to store my pepper. I'll have to keep close tabs on it and decide whether I need to try to give it a little boost with a flourescent (I don't want to spend the money to purchase a grow light, or pay for the electricity usage).

I picked of a large handfull of blooms but it seems to only have caused it to bloom more, so this winter I think I will leave them on and see what happens. I have a feeling that they will just drop, but we'll see.

I don't think I will add any fertilizer this winter, especially since there is already slow realease plant food incorporated into the potting soil.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2005 at 10:21AM
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vinnyc(7 LINY)

Fifteen gallon pots are a bear to get up and down the stairs in the spring and fall,though I'd like to try leaving them in pots instead of transplanting them twice a year, to see how they do. They do suffer some transplant shock in spring and fall, and some plants don't survive it. I think I'll pot up my two new Indian plants in oversize pots, maybe 10 gallon to start with, and leave them potted up next spring, or maybe pot one and plant one in the ground. This is the longest I've ever kept one alive, and if the cayenne keeps on going, I'm eventuallly going to have to go to a bigger pot, although it doesn't seem to mind the pruning every year. Live and learn.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2005 at 11:49AM
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I plan on bringing in a few plants this winter. I'm very interested in your light set up. Do you have a stand or do you hang the lights from the ceiling? I have a very, very, very small house and most of my plants are over 3' tall and over 2' wide. At this size...I really don't know what to do. I hate the idea of a cinder block shelf unit but because of the money issues this might be the best thing to do. I would appreciate any help. This was my first time starting plants from seed and it kind of got out of hand and I now have over 40 plants and would love to bring in a few of them this those chocolate habaneros!

    Bookmark   October 18, 2005 at 8:44PM
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UncleJohn(z4 NH)

Last Spring someone (I think it was Paul) turned me on to Fluorex lights. They are an intensified version of fluorescents, kind of a step between shop lights and halides etc. I am planning on buying 1-2 more this winter and using one light for 4-5 peppers, each in a 5 gallon container.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2005 at 9:11PM
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vinnyc(7 LINY)

I just use 4 foot flourescents, but then again I only have two or three plants under the lights at a time. I hang the lights from the ceiling rafters/floor joists in the basement with sash chain, which is cheap. I screwed a couple of cup hooks into the rafter and attach the other end to the fixture. It makes it really easy to adjust the height, just move the chain a link or two. My basement ceiling is only 7 feet, so I can reach the hook without a step stool or ladder.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2005 at 3:33PM
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