HELP! - How to prune a chile plant for overwintering?

sidhartha0209(KY_6a)October 17, 2012

I have a large, magnificent Burpee Hot Lemon plant, loaded w/ delicious chiles, in a three gallon (should have been five, will be next year) pot that I'd love to overwinter in the house (in fact that's the sole reason I planted it in the container to begin with), but it's going to have to be what I'd call 'drastically pruned' back before I can find the space for it in the house. I've never pruned a chile plant and fear I would over prune and kill it. I'd appreciate any guidance/advice that anyone could provide.

Thanks,

Larry.

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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hi, Larry!
I've done this many times, and I only lost a pepper when I sprayed it with an aphid treatment
and put it straight out in the sun. Anyhow, I take it that you want to harvest the chiles...
which I assume have not ripened? If you want to ripen the chiles on the plant, you'll need lots
of light - supplemental light.

But if you're ready to harvest what you can, then feel free to trim the plant down to size.
I usually prune the foliage a week or two prior to re-potting and root-pruning.

Whereabouts do you live - what's your zone? That'll make a big difference, too.

Next consideration is potting mix: you want something fast-draining that won't stay wet for
weeks on end during the gloomy months of Winter.

I'm attaching a pic of two plants - the taller of the two is my nearly 5 year-old Hungarian Wax,
and the shorter is a first-Winter Chocolate Habanero. This was last Winter, mid-January.

Josh

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 10:43AM
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sidhartha0209(KY_6a)

Thanks greenman!

"....Anyhow, I take it that you want to harvest the chiles...
which I assume have not ripened? If you want to ripen the chiles on the plant, you'll need lots
of light - supplemental light....."

I've gotten bunches of the prettiest bright yellow delicious 'just right heat' (for me) chiles already from this plant and it's loaded with ripe ones now. I do believe it's the most productive chile I've ever grown. Yes I will harvest them before pruning.

'...But if you're ready to harvest what you can, then feel free to trim the plant down to size.
I usually prune the foliage a week or two prior to re-potting and root-pruning...."

This is good info to know. I'll probably do this very soon.

'...Whereabouts do you live - what's your zone? That'll make a big difference, too...."

E Central KY, zone 6

'..Next consideration is potting mix: you want something fast-draining that won't stay wet for
weeks on end during the gloomy months of Winter...."

I read that 'Gritty Mix' is popular for this, I think I'll look for it today.

"...I'm attaching a pic of two plants - the taller of the two is my nearly 5 year-old Hungarian Wax,
and the shorter is a first-Winter Chocolate Habanero. This was last Winter, mid-January...."

Awesomme! I was hoping I might get it to ' totally go dormant' and keep it in my unheated basement (average 40-45F) but I suppose that's too cold, eh?

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 11:01AM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

I let mine start to drop leaves from the cold and then cut back the water and chop them back to a stump. I only bring them in if it is forecast to get close to frost over night.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 11:25AM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

I let mine start to drop leaves from the cold and then cut back the water and chop them back to a stump. I only bring them in if it is forecast to get close to frost over night.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 11:28AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

At those temps, it should survive....
the leaves will turn yellow and drop until it is a bare stick.
I've done this in an unheated garage, in my zone, and the Pepperoncini *barely* survived.
I wouldn't try this with a plant I actually want to keep alive.

Is there light/a window in your basement? You'll need light.

Josh

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 1:11PM
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jonfrum(6)

Lots of discussion about overwintering on this forum. If you want to keep them in the garage - and they should be OK at that temperature - you can cut the plant down to about eight inches, keeping a fork above the main stem. That takes off all the leaves. They need to be in a mix that drains really well. in this case, you don't want them to actually produce over the winter, just stay alive until next year. So water them sparsely, and fertilize rarely. If they survive the winter, make sure you harden them off gradually next spring. They'll be tender from being inside all winter, so they need to toughen up. There's no guarantee, but there's a good chance they'll survive until next spring.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 10:52PM
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sidhartha0209(KY_6a)

"At those temps, it should survive....
the leaves will turn yellow and drop until it is a bare stick.
I've done this in an unheated garage, in my zone, and the Pepperoncini *barely* survived.
I wouldn't try this with a plant I actually want to keep alive.
Is there light/a window in your basement? You'll need light.

Josh"

Thanks Josh.

Yes, there is a window in the basement, so it would have some light.

I actually have three of these Aji Limons (one in a container and two in the garden); think maybe I'll dig up all three and experiment with at least one of them in the basement.

Also have a Habanero (or Scotch Bonnet, I'm not sure which) in the garden, I might try to overwinter it also.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 6:35AM
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