Over Wintering Chili Plants
Growing your own chillies can be both an exciting and rewarding pastime. But did you know that chillies are not in fact annuals and do not always die off after the summer, they are capable of living for many years producing better, bigger and faster crops as they mature.
The process of keeping your plants alive during the cooler months is known as overwintering. During this time your plant will be in a state of dormancy, much in a similar way to animals that hibernate. You will encourage the plant to focus on only its core functions until the spring comes by which time it will be at an advanced stage to begin growing, giving any gardener a distinct advantage to those growing their plants from seed. This process requires some patience but the rewards are great.
How to overwinter 5 simple steps:
1. As the weather begins to get colder bring your chili plants inside. This is usually around October time when average temperatures tend to drop to between 10 - 12 degrees Celsius.
2. Remove the pot and separate all of the soil from the roots.
3. Trim the roots right back with some garden clippers to approximately 1/3 of their original size. You may now need a smaller size pot.
4. Now cut back the plant leaving 10 cm of the stem (yes I know this seems brutal but to increase the chances of survival you have to reduce the plant so that it requires less energy to survive).
5. Finally re-pot your plant with fresh compost and a small amount of fish blood and bone fertilizer then place on a sunny windowsill expecting to see growth in a few weeks time.
- Chili varieties belonging to the Cap Baccatum and Cap Pubescens families are the best for overwintering.
- Try to overwinter using healthy plants, this greatly increases their chance of survival.
- Chillies like heat so if you have a greenhouse or a hot mat these will greatly aid the growing process.
- Do not over water your plants in some cases they may stay moist for up to 3 weeks.
- Chillies can be boosted with a weak dose of high nitrogen plant feed over the winter.
- Finally be patient, waiting for your plant to spring back into life may seem a very long way away, but when next spring comes you wont have to sow any more seeds!
Good Luck :~)