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Overwinter chilli plants image
Chilli plants are the most rewarding of plants, undemanding of space, pruning or supporting. This article looks at how to overwinter chilli plants and the benefits of doing this.

Chilli plants are easily propagated from seed and look great in the kitchen when they flower and later produce green and red chillies. Another benefit is that the chilli plant is not an annual (i.e., completes its life cycle in one year) but a perennial which means it will continue for many years if it is overwintered in a frost-free environment. There is a huge range of plant species from mild to very hot.

  • Growing and nurturing chilli plants over the colder months can provide a mood boost and sense of achievement
  • Overwintering chilli plants means the plants will produce chillies earlier than seed-grown ones and so have a higher yield next year
  • Learning how plants can be grown through winter can help us reflect on how important resilience is to mental health
  • Overwintering plants will grow well in raised beds that are often less likely to experience hard frost
  • Planting successionally can provide a well-paced gardening activity across the months leaving you doing little but often
  • Overwintering chillies could be a great opportunity to teach children about the care vegetables need to grow in different seasons
  • Children can actively help take care of the chilli plants and enjoy them with their meals, as the journey from nurturing to eating food can be very rewarding

Chilli plants can be overwintered now. They can produce chillies earlier than seed-grown ones and will therefore have a higher yield next year.

Producing fruit drains energy from all plants. So pick off any chillies now: red, green or partly formed. Soon the leaves will turn yellow and drop off as the plant becomes dormant for winter.

At this point, give it a light prune back. Use sharp, clean scissors or secateurs to cut back any inward facing stems which will prevent overcrowding next summer. Also look to balance the plant as a chilli plant which has more branches on one side is more likely to tip over next summer.

Leave the plant in a warm light room, only watering occasionally when very dry (soil coming away from the sides of the pot is a good indicator it needs some water). A heated conservatory or greenhouse is also ideal.

In February or early March, increase the watering and start to feed with a slow release Osmocote pellet (1 per litre). Replenish the compost by topping it with new compost. This can be changed every 3 years. The plant will grow faster than ones started with seeds in February.

Chillies can be stored straight away in the freezer or a paper bag. They can be used for making chilli oil, dried chilli flakes and chilli jam.

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Rebecca H potting up Charlie Garner 2019 3