Overwintering Chili plants
Chili plants are often kept as annuals. In spring, the seeds are sown and in the autumn the peppers are harvested. At the first signs of the upcoming winter (when temperatures drop below 10 degrees Celsius (in Northern Europe in late October) the plant dies. Its work of producing peppers is over. People are already thinking ahead of the next pepper season. New opportunities, new chances. What will I grow?
Not everybody knows that the chili plant is actually a perennial plant. When you overwinter them indoors, they can be put outside again the following year. Not every plant is equal when it comes to overwintering. Some chili plants are easier to overwinter and some are difficult. Overwintering Capsicum Annuum species for example is harder.
There are some advantages to try to overwinter the plant(s) indoors. Especially with your ' dear ones' or varieties that are less easy to grow and have a long growing season, such as Capsicum Chinense species. With a little extra attention and care they produce fruits faster, more and for a longer period.
You just are in pole position against seeds which have to follow the whole growing process.
Choose plants that are free from insects and diseases. A day before moving the plants indoors it is recommended to thoroughly spray the plant down with water (possibly with some liquid soap) to make the plant insect free. Any immature fruit should be removed.
Remove the plant from the soil and shake the earth from the roots. The clump of roots can be trimmed if necessary. Prune the plant back (you can prune back quite dramatically). In this way, the plant requires less energy to get through the winter and is less susceptible to disease. Then place the plant in new soil and put it on a light spot in the house.
The plant uses very little food and water during the winter period indoors. Giving water once a week is enough. During this period it is normal that leaves of the plant will drop, because the amount of light in the winter and also indoors is less than in summer. The leaves will grow back in the spring.
The plants will not get any fruit indoors. The temperature and the amount of light in an average home are simply not sufficient.
The plant will grow quickly in spring and get new branches. You can increase the amount of water which you give to the plant. The soil should not be too wet though.
Once it's warm enough outside, around May, you can put the mature plant outside again.