We have just entered winter and your chilli plants should start to feel the cold.
Use this guide in preparing your chilli plants for winter – the advantages of keeping your chilli crop alive during winter is, come summer you will have mature plants that will start producing straight away. This extra attention after your plants have fruited is called over-wintering.
So why do you want to over-winter your chilli plants?
- Your next harvest will come a lot earlier
- You plant(s) will produce many more peppers and for longer periods of time
- You will have a great head start over planting seeds in the Spring
At the end of the growing season, and when the temperature drops at night, plants start to shut down for the winter as their job of producing chilli seed pods is done. At this time, usually the plant will slow its growth to almost nil, therefore reducing its sunlight and water intake requirements drastically, whilst preparing for the long winter months ahead.
Get the best out of your plants
- As soon as your plant has finish fruiting – make sure you pick all the ripe chilli seed pods from your chilli plant (this tells the plants to produce more in future).
- Next, you want to trim your plants back slightly to remove dead or dying growth. Always trim at a 45 degree angle away from a major node to prevent fungal diseases. Trimming back unnecessary growth will allow your plant to conserve energy over the winter and ready it for early spring growth.
- You can also repot your chilli plants in slightly smaller containers in order to concentrate your plants energies into a smaller space ready for hibernation.
- And finally, make sure you move your chilli plants some place warm to give them the best chance of surviving the winter (preferably in a greenhouse or near a sunny window sill indoors where the average temperature will be higher, which helps your plants during the cold winter months.
Less water (just more love)
- Make sure that you water your chilli plants much less often during this stage as to prevent the water sitting in pots and promoting the growth of mould. Your plants will be using much less water during this hibernation-like stage. Up to 2 weeks between watering is fine – just make sure you check that the soil is moist but not damp.
- If you are unsure of how much water is just right, you can use a moisture tester which is available from any good garden centre – look at maintaining around 25% moisture in the soil.
Over-wintering gives you a great advantage and will start producing fruit much earlier in the growing season – this has the added benefit of a longer harvesting period, so not only will your plant produce more chillies, it will produce them for a longer duration!
You can expect your chilli plants to last for many years by over-wintering them properly – so when you’ve picked your last chilli of the season – why not start over-wintering for lots more in future?
For a little bit of effort, you enjoy both the challenge of looking after your plants during the winter when there very little else happening in the garden, and enjoy the many additional benefits when Spring finally does arrive.
If you follow these tips, your chilli plants will be ready for a great growing season come Spring time – saving you time and improving your chilli harvests!
Article content by chilli-willy