Friday 17 January 2014

Over-Wintering chillis

Towards the end of the Summer of 2012 I bought a very bedraggled little "Scotch Bonnet" chilli plant, for 50p in a Garden Centre sale, but I administered a lot of TLC and nurtured it through the Winter. Last year it really thrived. It grew so huge that I had to prune it several times, and it went on to produce loads of really fiery hot fruit. Following on from this success I determined to attempt a similar thing this Winter. I duly bought two chilli plants from the same Garden Centre as before (fairly cheaply, but not at the same knock-down price), and potted them up. One was a "Red Habanero" and the other was a "Nosferatu".

They went on to produce a welcome, but modest harvest of very handsome fruits:

Red Habanero


However the weather soon obliged me to bring the plants indoors or lose them. Our spare bedroom's windowsill became a temporary greenhouse.

Reading up about over-Wintering chillis I learned that it is recommended that you prune them very hard so that they don't lose too much energy through transpiration. I applied the technique and hoped for the best. From then on it was just a case of doing an occasional bit of watering. I added a bit of "Baby Bio" houseplant food, because that's what I always feed my houseplants with!

My efforts have met with variable success. The old Scotch Bonnet seems to have given up the ghost, as has my Numex Twilight. Did I mention Numex Twilight? No, I thought not...

Numex Twilight
But the Nosferatu and Red Habanero have done better. The Habanero is very vigorous, and has already put out lots of new foliage:

"Red Habanero" in foreground

Whereas the Nosferatu only has a few fresh leaves so far, but has optimistically produced a couple of  flowers:

The slowly-shrivelling fruit you see in the photo above ( the last remaining one) will hopefully yield a few seeds, and if it does I plan to sow them in order to "maintain the succession", as it were.

"Nosferatu", flowering in mid-January

I would be interested to hear if anyone else reading this has any experience of over-Wintering chillis, and if so, how they did it.


  1. As you know I don't grow chillies but they seem to make decorative houseplants.

  2. I've never seen chillis like these. I love the look of the twilight one, it looks like christmas lights. I bought sone reduced chillis in august and they were already looking for lawn in early october when we moved house. I assume they have totally died by now!

  3. Those are really pretty pepper flowers. Usually pepper flowers are boring white. And sorry I can't help you. I've never tried overwintering peppers.

  4. It's a great idea, they'll have a fantastic start to the year, should be early chillies for you.

  5. First year over wintering a chilli plant, Trinidad scorpion butch T , give it a good trim,water once a week, new leaves coming, kept on the kitchen table, will see how it turns out :-)

  6. We half-heartedly tried to over winter a chilli plant a couple of years back. It failed! Now Mike is very interested in growing chillies I suspect he might try again later on this year.

  7. They're such attractive plants when they have fruit hanging from their stems. Hopefully, you should get an early harvest by overwintering them. Always best to be on the safe side and save some seed though.

  8. I've not tried overwintering chilis, but my Happy Yummy sweet pepper is doing just fine on a windowsill. I didn't do any drastic trimming, just lopped it off enough to fit in the window. It suffered from a lot of blossom drop on it's first round of blossoming, but did produce five peppers (I had the first ripe one on my salad yesterday). I'm curious as to how early and well it will produce when it goes back to the garden in May.

  9. I am trying it for the first time this year, in a very cold conservatory. They haven't started into growth yet but have obvious little buds on and are clearly still alive. My biggest problem I can see already is going to be aphids and whitefly which have also overwintered. As soon as growth restarts I will re-pot them, washing all the old soil off and starting afresh.

  10. I haven't tried overwintering - you have inspired me to give it a go this year. More than ten years ago, I had a glut of little chillies (Birdseye?), so I just strung them on some cotton and hung them as an ornamental, thinking I might make chilli flakes. Never did, and they started to get dusty, so I thought I would throw them out. The time was right, so I popped a few of the seeds from them in a pot - and I think every one of them came up twice.

    So I have been giving pots away wholesale. Still have four (after I filled pots in the garden) that I will pot on to give as gifts once they are fruiting.

  11. Beautiful chillies. I love the purplish flowers.


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