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Over wintering chillies

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My plants are still flowering and I am wondering what to do. I sowed all the old seed so had planned to keep the seed. That plan has gone to pot. I can't keep them in the house so debating whether to try the greenhouse or chuck them. :sad11:

If they're too big for the house, you could try bonsai overwintering them.  Turning chilli plants in to bonsai trees is a thing people do.  They take a big chilli plant at the end of the first year and trim the stem right back to a stump with branches.  Dig the plant up and prune the roots severely so it can be potted in a much smaller container (like you see bonsai trees in).  Then keep it on a warm windowsill and wait for it to hopefully start sprouting leaves.  Of course people who do this want to create a real bonsai chilli tree ... but if you were to re-pot them in April/May in to a big pot and put in the greenhouse then they'd turn back in to big plants again.

You can read more info here

Now I hadn't thought of that one!

Not all chilis overwinter equally well.  I find the c annuum very difficult, they are really only annual, but the lantern chilis and Trepadeira Werner from the seed circle are doing well here in their second year.  I did trim them and overwinter in the frost-free conservatory.  In an unheated greenhouse the chances to get through winter are much lower.  I once had an Alberto Locoto overwinter in the greenhouse a few years ago but it died the next winter when it was very slightly colder.   :wave:

It's a nice hobby and an interesting challenge to overwinter chillies, and there are some advantages to having a few of your eggs in a different basket.

Especially if setting up an enclosure for your seedlings with good LED light and thermostatically controlled temp is a problem, (relying on good natural light is asking for trouble because an unexpected sunny day can bake the whole lot to mush in a few hours). 

Not to mention the fact that there's never enough room inside, and overfilling it brings its own problems - like aphids that you may not notice (in your jungle).

All these propagator problems increase if you go away on a spring break, so you really need to add capillary watering and a good reservoir too.

All these systems increase the risk that something can fail while you're away.

However if you do get it right with seedlings then you can pretty much guarantee that they will overtake your overwintered plants*, and that makes the overwintering option pretty useless except as "insurance".

There is one massive exception, and that's C.pubescens (locoto/rocoto/manzano). These hardly ever sulk in spring - in fact they bound away so fast that I've never, ever seen a seedling catch up with them - no contest whatsoever.


PS * I would say it's almost impossible to give overwintered plants the same environment you give seedlings - no matter how much you bonsai them the pots are still BIG - and root pruning is very very risky on potted plants**. If I had a heated sunny indoor swimming pool on broad acres like some people then it would be a breeze, but I'd use it for growing the best Selenicereus cacti species instead (pitaya amarilla fruit are amazing - better than lychees, almost as good as mangosteen).

** I'd recommend that before you plant a chilli in a bed you should consider whether you might want to overwinter it - if you might, then plant it in a decent sized pot (just about suitable for its future bonsai) and plant that pot into the ground. Unless its holes are tiny the plant will have no problem sending its big roots out while keeping a good set of roots in the pot, and that makes it easier and much safer to root prune it when lifting in autumn.


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