Over-wintered peppers or tomatoes?

ditnc(7 NC)April 14, 2014

I grew tomatoes and sweet peppers in large containers last year. I put the containers (with the tops of plants cut off) in the garage over the winter. I took them out last week to expose them to sun to warm up the soil and 2 of the stems are green! I had pulled the tags from the pots, and can't tell whether these stems are tomatoes or peppers.

Is it likely that these will grow and become productive plants? Has anyone here over wintered peppers or tomatoes? I did not water or care for them at all while they were in the garage. But the stems definitely have green under the surface when scratched.

I'm in central NC, zone 7b.

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I never over winter tomatoes but have over wintered peppers a lot. The best varieties I have over wintered are hot Indian/Thai peppers as well as Banana Peppers. See the video link for the harvest of lots of banana peppers from an over wintered plant. Its a pleasant surprise.

If using container, I would recommend re-potting them (this worked really well for the Indian/Thai pepper plants I had).

Here is a link that might be useful: Harvest from 1 yr old banana pepper plant

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 12:40PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Peppers, yes. Especially when it is an unusual variety or one that is difficult to germinate.

Tomatoes, no. When I have tried it with tomatoes the production that might result just isn't worth the effort. And it's nothing like what a new plant in the same space would produce.

The question about treating tomatoes as a perennial comes up over on the Tomatoes forum every spring and again, unless it is an unusual variety, it just doesn't seem to justify the time, effort, and used space.


    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 4:40PM
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I overwintered successfully the Brazilian Starfish pepper. In the fall, I transplanted it into a pot, removed all leaves and some young shoots and placed the pot in the cold cellar where it is always dark and cool (but not freezing). So, it stayed in dormant state until spring. Pretty much, I did with the pepper what I usually do with my brugmansias in the fall.
2 weeks ago I took it out of the cold cellar and placed the pot on the sunny windowsill - and I see the young shoots are starting to emerge.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 6:56PM
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If the tomato is a variety that is hard to find, or you just want to keep for whatever reason, you can try rooting a cutting from it, assuming it grows some new shoots. Tomato cuttings root pretty easily, just some warm, moist soil in a sheltered area. Put it where you want, then, after it starts showing some vigor.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 8:08PM
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ditnc(7 NC)

Thanks to all for the replies. I think I will give them a week to 10 days and see what happens. If they develop leaves resembling peppers, I'll keep them. I got a late start planting seeds this year. It would be nice to have a more mature plant for earlier peppers.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 10:18PM
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daninthedirt(Cent TX; USDA z8a, HZ10, Sunset z30)

Peppers are perennials. Period. If they don't freeze, and you don't kill them otherwise, they'll survive the winter and grow like bonkers as it gets warm. I routinely try to overwinter ALL my peppers. Come May, I can have fresh peppers from completely mature plants.

We had a cold winter this year, and although I covered my pepper patch with several layers of tarp, I lost about half after a few nights at 22F. But my stand of TAM Jalapenos did pretty well. Half of the plants managed to stay green, and half were reduced to brown sticks. ALL of the those brown sticks are now sprouting. A bit of high-N fert helps them do so. I have pepper plans with woody "trunks" a half inch in diameter. Old pepper plans are allegedly not as productive as new plants, but I've never noticed that.

Never tried tomatoes. They strike me as a lot more fragile.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 9:50PM
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What terry_neoh said about the tomato. It's a chance to experiment a bit, but if you grow the old plant alongside a rooted cutting from it, I'd bet good money that the cutting would do better.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 10:04PM
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It should work but I would usually top off the pepper at a certain height, leaving some leaves. It sounds like you left only a stem.

But since you see signs of life, that should recover also.

I thought a tomato and pepper stalk would be different enough to tell the difference, but maybe after being overwintered, they may look similar.

Good luck and let us know more about your tomato harvest since that is the one that seems to be in question.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 5:12PM
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I've overwintered tomatoes, peppers and eggplant, but they chose themselves. Whatever survived outside went on to produce another year, usually more prolific than the first year. I'm in zone 9b and we had a warm winter. (Not so good for stone fruit trees.)

Here is a link that might be useful: overwintering tomatoes

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 5:52PM
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I'm in zone 9 also (but the other coast) and my tomatoes and peppers all made it through the winter. Not only that, but they have already produced more so far this year than they did all last season! I don't know what I did...I'm still fairly new to this...but I'm very happy about it! We didn't get any freezes over the winter, so I'm sure that helped. I think in warmer climates, you really can grow them, and peppers, as perennials.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 9:52PM
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daninthedirt(Cent TX; USDA z8a, HZ10, Sunset z30)

That's an excellent point about eggplants. I grow Ichibans each year, but never tried to overwinter them. Will try this year. They are Solanaceae, like peppers and tomatoes, so it makes some sense that they'd behave the same. I guess okra could be perrenial as well. I'm guessing that peppers are slightly more frost tolerant than regular tomatoes, but I don't have a clue about okra or eggplant.

I believe there are frost tolerant tomatoes around. Not sure about the others. Of course, we're talking about indeterminate tomatoes.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 10:12PM
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I would think that many plants, if not allowed to freeze to death (from frost, ice, cold temps, etc) would just keep on growing (to their mature size). Eg in my area, pineapple sage dies back from the cold but I've read that in parts of the country where it does stay warmer, pineapple sage is quite a decorative plant at several feet tall and wide, with all its nice blooms and fragrance.

I did see a video of one guy's pepper plants in his greenhouse. They were huge, about as tall and wide as he was tall. Imagine all the leaves producing and peppers maturing on that thing!

    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 8:24AM
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daninthedirt(Cent TX; USDA z8a, HZ10, Sunset z30)

Even if not allowed to freeze to death, true annuals go through their entire life cycle in one year. Their "mature size" is whatever they grow to in that one year. The point here is that Solanaceae are not true annuals, in that they don't self-destruct at the end of a year, though many let a freeze do that. In northern climes, you don't have much of a choice. It's amusing that many lists of perennial vegetables don't include them. Why? Because the northern assumption is that what can't make it though the winter is a horticultural annual. That's wrong. A frost intolerant perennial is a, let's say, practical annual, if you can't protect it.

It would be interesting to see an honest list of horticulturally perennial vegetables.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 1:58PM
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It would be interesting to see if you have an overwintered tomato how it does this year (esp. if you can plant it in the ground). My DD and her BFF are doing a science fair project on the lifecycle of a tomato plant, I told them that tomatoes are perennials in warm climates, but here they don't do well even if you can keep them alive, or at least I don't think they'd do as well as peppers.

Maybe something to do with the peppers lignifying, I don't think tomatoes really do that, my cousin has 2 Burpee hybrids in shrub pots (10 gal?) that I gave her last summer, they languished in 4" pots until I opened a bag of MG and potted them up. She moved them into her living room for the winter, I haven't been to her house lately but a month or so ago one had a small tomato - nothing like the size I was getting off these plants. But they were still alive. Going to have to try to plant them in her garden this year and see how they do but I think the answer will be "not well".

I do have some peppers I started from seed in Jan 2012, potted up until last year 2 biggest (Douglah 7-pot) ended up in 3-5 pots and 3 others (Bih jolokia ) in 2-gal pots, they did flower this winter but no luck hand pollinating. I also has a purple serrano the same age in a 1 gal pot, it was always tall and spindly, I cut it way back and it is looking wonderful now (I did get 1 serrano and 1 Douglah last winter).

    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 5:51PM
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