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overwintering chile plants

Posted by maple_grove 6 (My Page) on
Thu, Oct 6, 11 at 12:35

This year was my first time growing Chiles. I have 18 plants potted in 2 gallon containers. I am interested in information about overwintering them.

I have an unheated garage with several windows which I use for overwintering perennials and ornamental trees. This has worked quite well for such plant material in the past. The temp. in the garage is usually in the 30's but does drop down to high 20's during the coldest part of the winter. Is this too cold to support them?

My other option would be to bring them into my basement, which is typically 50-60 deg F. Not as much light, although I suppose I could set them up under HID. Is this too warm for them to go into dormancy? How would that affect them next year?

My questions are, are either of the situations described above appropriate for overwintering my Chile plants, and also, what would be ideal conditions for overwintering Chile plants? Thanks for sharing your expertise and advice.

Alex


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: overwintering chile plants

Well anything below say 40 degrees is too cold. Idealy if you could keep them in your basement at 60 to 70 degrees with some type of lighting that would be nice. I live in florida and I am able to overwinter in my garage but I bring them outside during the day and only on cold nights do I bring them in. I use christmas light and blankets to keep them warm on the few night we get below 40 degrees. There are some good links on the best way to overwinter.

Here is a link that might be useful: overwinter peppers


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RE: overwintering chile plants

I would opt for the basement - all you need is a florescent light fairly close. Don't overwater and be prepared for whatever pests you'll encounter (aphids, spider mites, etc..).


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RE: overwintering chile plants

I agree fully with these guys.

Also, I noticed your post in Conifers. I've been using Gritty Mix to overwinter peppers for
several years now with great success. In colder climates, drainage is key - peppers hate wet, cold roots.


Josh


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RE: overwintering chile plants

Yeah, peppers will die if they freeze. You have to keep them somewhere that stays relatively warm all winter long.

I'm actually cutting my best ones back into houseplants for the winter, as well as taking some small cuttings of others that will take months to grow big enough again to even have to start worrying about them.

I mention this a lot, but thats because I really enjoy it, but turning your peppers into bonsai for the winter can be a very good way to overwinter them (thats what I meant by making houseplants out of mine). They're small enough this way that they don't require a lot of light, they look pretty, and you might even get some peppers off them all winter long if you're lucky.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pepper Bonsai


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RE: overwintering chile plants

I will NEVER AGAIN over-winter any peppers. I did last winter and it drew so many aphids that they started eating my new seedlings in the spring. It's really inexpensive to start new seedings every year.
John A


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RE: overwintering chile plants

  • Posted by esox07 4, S. Cent Wisc (My Page) on
    Fri, Oct 7, 11 at 23:13

Trying to overwinter for the first time this year. Never saw an aphid all of last year, inside or outside. I hope I don't see any this year either.

What would happen if I had an indoor plant that had aphids and I stuck it outside on a day when it was like 40 degrees for an hour or so. Would that kill the aphids? I am thinking the plant could handle it.


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RE: overwintering chile plants

I think you'd actually have to freeze the aphids to kill them, and that would kill the pepper plant too. Better to go with chemical or manual control.


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RE: overwintering chile plants

I am with John on overwintering peppers. Last year I brought in a couple of plants so more fruit could ripen, only for a month or so, and the white fly and aphids were on them in no time so I harvested what I could and dumped the plants. A couple of years earlier I overwintered some Scotch Bonets and I had aphids throughout my house - infected my houseplants and my tomato seedlings so it's never again for me. I don't even put my tropical hibiscus plants out anymore in the summer. They often bring in white fly and that's tough to get rid of.


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RE: overwintering chile plants

When I put the over-wintered peppers and seedlings outside to harden off in the spring, that got rid of the aphids and I was able to save most of the plants. I think the ladybugs found them.
John A


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RE: overwintering chile plants

You guys are removing the outdoor soil from the roots, right?

If you bring in a container of soil that's been outdoors, problems are much more likely
to present themselves. Some of this stuff is common sense, some of it takes a while to learn.

Josh


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RE: overwintering chile plants

Pests inside are definitely something you will have to be prepared for if you bring an outdoor plant inside to overwinter.

And, yes, it's easy enough to start new seedlings in the Spring.

But, if you are low on seeds of a particular strain, or are in a climate that is maybe a little short for the strain you are growing, overwintering can give you that extra maturity early on to give you a good harvest (or a second harvest).

I don't overwinter all my plants, but, have been keeping a few for several years now.


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RE: overwintering chile plants

Sounds like it will just be easier to start new plants next year. I don't want to take the chance on the pests, and I don't think it's worth the effort if I have to bareroot and repot them to avoid pests. Too much other stuff going on in the garden right now, and not enough time.

Thanks everyone for sharing your collective wisdom.

Alex


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RE: overwintering chile plants

Question about overwintering (and harvesting, could post on other thread but better to kill 2 birds with 1 post here).

I should cut down the plants I want to overwinter so there are just a few leaves, right? So can I hang the top part to get the pods to ripen?

When do I start pruning the roots - after I cut the stem back? I only have about a week b4 frost. Thanks


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RE: overwintering chile plants

I prune the tops and bottoms at the same time...but that's because I'm potting them down to bring in for the Winter. The one thing I *wouldn't* do is prune the roots before the tops. :-) Otherwise, what you plan sounds fine to me.


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RE: overwintering chile plants

Exactly what Tsheets said ;-)

Josh


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RE: overwintering chile plants

Sorry, that was obvious to prune the top first (or at the same time) - what I should have asked is how long after pruning the top should I prune the roots - is 2-3 days enough time? B/c I'd like to leave them in the ground a few days after pruning roots and b4 cleaning the soil off and repotting in a container soil. Thanks


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RE: overwintering chile plants

  • Posted by esox07 4, S. Cent Wisc (My Page) on
    Wed, Oct 12, 11 at 20:43

I would say anything is fine. I pruned my bhut, pulled it and pruned the roots all in 15 minutes. It didn't miss a beat. It already hs buds, blooms and it is ready for another prune now. If you prune the roots carefully and don't do much damage to the root system after pruning, you should be fine no matter how long you leave it in the ground after pruning the limbs. Just pull it before it gets too cold.


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RE: overwintering chile plants

Hi Josh,

Thanks for advice - I have some more questions about the process. Am I correct in the interpretation that repotting the plants into fresh mix before bringing them inside should alleviate the pest problems?

Also, I see here and on another post elsewhere in GW that you would prune the roots and top and then transplant to a 0.7 gal container in the gritty mix. What do you do at the end of the winter to prepare them for the move back outside? Obviously they will need to return to a larger pot. Do you remove the gritty soil and return them to the 5:1:1 mix? Or are they potted up into a larger volume of (the same) gritty soil mix?

And also, what kind of light do you provide while they're inside over the winter?

Thanks again,

Alex


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RE: overwintering chile plants

Bare rooting and using fresh mix will *help* with the pest issues, but, not eliminate. In any case, I would be prepared for them in the event that you do have some issues over the Winter.

From what I gather, the 5-1-1 mix is a gritty mix. Basically, very well draining mix so you don't end up with a stagnant mini-swamp in the bottom of the pot.

When moving back outside, you can use the same mix, just more of it. Also, you will need to harden them off (slowly re-introduce to the outdoor environment). There may be some shock / slow-down because all the Winter leaves/branches that have grown over the Winter aren't used to the strong light of the Sun.

I don't do anything special inside as far as light. Just put them in the best lit window I have, which happens to be a West facing window.


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RE: overwintering chile plants

One thing I do with mine before bringing them in is to give them a good soaking in sevin first. They're going to be inside anyway, so its not like I'm going to be killing anything beneficial. Leaves, stems, soil surface, everything gets a good coating of sevin.

Coat of neem oil a few days later is good too.

Also, I like to overwinter in pots I get from Walmart that have the spout at the bottom for bottom watering. Absolutely impossible to overwater to the point you have actual standing water in the roots with those things, as it'll start pouring out the bottom into your floor long before that.


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RE: overwintering chile plants

Hi, Alex!
Tsheets is right again, on all counts.
Replacing the soil will only *help* with pest issues, so you should prepare for pests.
I always have aphids appear in late Winter, no matter what I do.

When it's time to acclimate the plants in Spring, you "harden them off" just as
you would your pepper seedlings. Gradually introduce them to the outdoors in some bright shade
or dappled sun, in a protected area out of direct wind. Give them increasing sunlight every
day for about two weeks or so.

With my Hungarian Wax, I dig it out of the garden and put it into the Gritty Mix.
Then, in the Spring, I bare-root it and plant it in my garden. Then I dig it up again,
bare-root, and re-pot for the Winter.

I start my seeds in the Gritty Mix, then transition to 4-inch pots with 5-1-1 mix.
From there, I move the seedlings into 5-gallon containers of 5-1-1. This year, I did
grow my Black Pearl pepper in 1-gallon of the Gritty Mix, and that plant is phenomenal.

I don't use any supplemental light over the Winter, just an east-facing window.


Josh


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Gritty Mix

Forgot to distinguish between the 5-1-1 and the Gritty Mix.

The Gritty Mix is two-thirds inorganic grit, and one-third organic - Pine or Fir bark.
This yields an incredibly durable, free-draining, and well-aerated mix that is very, very
difficult to overwater. As a trade-off, you do need to water and fertilize the Gritty Mix
on a consistent basis.

The 5-1-1 mix holds more moisture and is therefore ideal for single-season growing.
This mix is 5 parts Pine or Fir bark, 1 part Perlite, and 1 part peatmoss/potting soil.
Dolomitic Garden Lime is added 1 Tablespoon per gallon of mix, in order to provide
Calcium and Magnesium in the proper ratio. The Lime will also slightly elevate the pH
of the mix.

In general, the Gritty Mix is best for woody plants and/or longer term plantings (2-3 years).
The 5-1-1 mix will outlast nearly any bagged mix, but eventually the bark will break down
and the soil will need to be replaced. It is one of the most economical mixes to make, as well.
I refer to it as my "workhorse" around the yard.


Josh


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RE: overwintering chile plants

I always spray with insecticidal soap before bringing them inside. Insecticidal soap kills instantly, but is non toxic to us or plants. Reapply it at regular intervals or when you first see any signs of pests.


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RE: overwintering chile plants

Thanks for the fast response and helpful advice, all. I like the idea of using insecticidal soap. Maybe I'll pick my favorite 4 or 5 chile plants and try this out. I'd like to see them producing earlier next season.

Alex


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RE: overwintering chile plants

Some good ideas there in doing some preventative pest control when you bring them in. I just keep the insecticidal soap around and use when problems arise - never really thought about striking first. But, now I will plan on it (going to be working on that this weekend).


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RE: overwintering chile plants

  • Posted by esox07 4, S. Cent Wisc (My Page) on
    Thu, Oct 20, 11 at 17:59

Now I have a couple questions.
When you say "Bare Rooting" is that simply spraying or soaking all the soil out of the roots of the plant before repotting?
Also, what exactly is "insecticidal soap"? How is it applied?
I didn't have any pests last winter but if I find them this season, I want to be ready.
Bruce


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RE: overwintering chile plants

Short answer, dish soap (certain brands, anyway). Long answer, they make special insecticide soaps.

Basically, the soap breaks down the waxy coating on an insect's shell and causes it to dehydrate very quickly, causing death. It only works if you spray it directly on the bug you want to kill though. It has no residual, so if an aphid walks across where you sprayed 5 minutes later, nothing will happen to it.


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RE: overwintering chile plants

esox07,

Regarding insecticidal soap, the link below might be helpful.

Earlier this year fighting a spider mite infestation, I started adding Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol to my mix. It evaporates fast enough that it doesn't harm the plant but really messes with the bugs that have a tolerance for the soap.

Bill

Here is a link that might be useful: Insecticidal 'Soap'


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RE: overwintering chile plants

If you use the search function with "overwinter", you will get over 200 hits.....enough reading for quite a while.


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RE: overwintering chile plants

Bill: I'm curious what pests you have found that are resistant to insecticidal soap? I've found that I can even shoot pests in the air, and they'll drop instantly. Insecticidal soap is generally very deadly on contact. I'd sure like to know of any pest that is not affected by it for sure.


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RE: overwintering chile plants

Oh, trust me Capoman, there are some VERY resistant aphids out there! You may be lucky so far and have not come across them...be thankful! I had some aphids last year that withstood several insecticidal soap applications, pyrethrums, and even several malathion applications! Imidacloprid finally wiped them out! This was in a greenhouse by the way. Sorry, I guess we're a little off topic now.


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RE: overwintering chile plants

I dug up a bunch of the most vigorous plants yesterday (and pulled others to hang, roots and all, to ripen pods). There was 1 Hinkelhatz 18" high and 36" wide - sorry I didn't get a picture at 4pm when it looked nice. Not much of a root ball on any of them.

The 24" tall skinny HH is OK this AM (I need more potting soil, so just stuck everything in pots with garden soil in the garage overnight). But the large one is wilted! I put it in a HUGE pot with more garden soil and watered, but I don't even know if it's worth buying enough potting soil to pot that up, even if I chop it way back, or if I should just hang it and hope all the pods ripen. I was kind of hoping to keep it in a 5-gal pot as a houseplant, it was so nice. But I do have smaller ones to overwinter.

Is it done for once the leaves *all* are wilted? Can't believe what happened overnight.


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RE: overwintering chile plants

Capoman,

The soap is effective on soft bodied insects. I've found that it's not very effective on beetles, earwigs etc. Of course anything that comes out to feed in the middle of the night can be a pain to treat with soap unless you're an insomniac.


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RE: overwintering chile plants

I have been looking for overwinter guideline and I found it here and the other threads I consider it is very useful for the new beginners who are careless gardeners like me. I got very good advice from "Edymnion z7" :

"Okay, alarm bells just went off due to that picture.
I've seen this before, and its going to kill your plant if you don't act right now (if it isn't already too late). You need to trim off the dead parts of those stems that are slowly creeping down towards the base. They likely have an infection (mine was fungal) that will spread right down to the base and kill the entire plant.
Trim it off now and put some hydrogen peroxide on the cut ends to sterilize them. Repeat the peroxide sprayings about twice a day for 2-3 days to ensure you got it all."

May be I am wrong but I think when we cut off the branches for overwinter it will be useful to use hydrogen peroxide as Edymnion z7 mentioned above as a precautionary measure from the possible problems.

When we do overwinter repotting and change the old soil are also an option. Another good advice I got from "jodik 5" about repotting and new soil.

"When switching soils to the 511 or Gritty Mix, make sure you have thoroughly read all the instructions, and the cautionary advice that goes along with it... such as, ensuring the medium is pre-moistened before using, keeping a plant's roots moist and out of the sun while re-potting, and keeping the newly potted items out of direct sun, wind, excessive heat or cold, and babying them a bit until they get acclimated to their new homes. Keep a close eye on moisture, too."

Both of them's advice are useful and necessary I think for the new beginners. I lost about 5/6 overwinter chili plants due to lack of knowledge of overwinter.


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RE: overwintering chile plants

Loved the discussion on this post..... this site ( Pepper Bonsai ) was amazing .


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