Chilli plants - keep or chuck and start again next year?

Hi We've just had our first, so it's time to bring in our chilli and pepper plants from our unheated polytunnel. The problem I have is not enough room in the house to keep all of the plants through the winter. So my question is, is it worth the hassle of trying to keep chilli and pepper plants over winter, or should I just compost the lot and sow fresh next spring? What are the advantages of keeping them? Thanks!


  • jo4eyesjo4eyes Posts: 2,032

    IME it's not worth the hassle of trying to overwinter them on windowsills or suchlike. They still dropped the majority of their leaves in my case, so messy etc, plus ensuring dont get frosted begind the curtains. I now always sow again the next spring. Honestly dont know if any advantages, but am sure someone will- possibly earlier to fruit the following year? J.

  • WelshonionWelshonion Posts: 3,115

    There are some varieties that are specifically suitable for taking through the Winter, but most should be chucked.

  • I have kept my chilli plant that I obtained from the supermarket last yeart and it came round a treat. It kept most of its leaves and I have had quite a few chillies from my it.  However my plant is rather small (about 10"). I wonder if I could get a bigger plane next year if I plant from seed.  I think I will try this.

  • ItalophileItalophile Posts: 1,647

    Technically they're perennials, like toms, but most succumb either to weather or disease. Even if they're kept alive, the production usually drops.

    Size of plant depends on variety, June. Your 10-inch plant sounds like a small bush variety. If you want a larger plant from seed, there are plenty around. Check out the seed packets at a garden centre.

  • Thanks all.

    Might chuck most but keep a few.

  • WelshonionWelshonion Posts: 3,115

    Start them off much earlier than you would tomatoes.

  • ItalophileItalophile Posts: 1,647

    Good advice. Chillies always take longer than toms to get to planting out stage.

  • Too much hassle to over winter I think, but I do start them off in January as they need a long growing period. However, when frost threatens I do move my plants into a leanto so I can still pick fresh chillies. Once the leaves start falling I cut the stem from the base and hang it to dry and store the chillies when they are throughlly dry.

  • ItalophileItalophile Posts: 1,647

    I discovered something by accident last season. Forgot to harvest some chillies as the cold weather descended. They ended up freeze-dried on the plants. I used them all through the winter.

  • figratfigrat Posts: 1,619
    Does all the above apply to sweet peppers as well?
  • ItalophileItalophile Posts: 1,647

    You can dry sweet peppers. I use the oven as per oven-dried toms. Remove the seeds and white ribs, cut them into pieces, set the oven to its lowest possible temperature - mine is 50C - put them on a tray and leave them for at least 12 hours. If you can't get your oven temp low enough, leave the door ajar.

  • Im going to try and keep my chillies over winter. I ahve an unheated greenhouse and will use some fleece jackets to cover them.You can only try and who knows you might be successful. Im hoping anyway

  • LeggiLeggi Posts: 489

    I have one chili plant that spent last winter moving from one not particularly sunny windowsill to another, it spent this summer in the not very sunny propagator, currently it has the sum total of one small green chili growing from it after all the other flowers it produced promptly died.

    I will spend this winter (more through obstination than sense) moving it around the house again in the vague hope that next summer will be glorious, and that it'll produce a bumper crop.

    Sometimes, for me, gardening is a little like waiting for the ugly duckling to mature.

  • edzelledzell Posts: 5

    I have been overwintering chillies in a frost-free greenhouse for several years with some success (and some failures!). However, when they survive it does give you an early crop, much earlier than any seed-raised plants. If they drop their leaves don't worry. So long as the stems stay green they will re-shoot. You can cut them back, too, but leave about 20cm/8" of framework and keep the soil barely damp.

  • Shall remember that thankyou edzell, was wondering how to go about it all as some of them are huge. Hoping we will still get some sun to finish off ripening the ones i have left.

  • I grew two of my chili plants in a big pot, and have now brought this into the kitchen. The rest of the plants are still in the soil and I'll pick the chilis soon and freeeze them. The pot in the kitchen looks quite attractive, as all the chilis are now orange. I'm hoping they'll turn red but I don't know if they will. Now that I have removed a snail that was chomping some of the chilis (they can't be very hot, can they?), I think the plant should be happy here for some weeks or months.

    Did you know that chilis have a hot end and a cool end? The tip is not nearly as hot as the stem end. So when you try a chili, perhaps by tentatively nibbling the tip, you may be quite misled about the heat it contains.

  • My husband loves chillies and i cant stand them and im the one that grows them. I sowed a packet of Tropical mix and had quite a mixture. They are slowly ripening in the greenhouse but didnt have enough for him to make his chilli sauce so had to but more from the local asian shop. Known locally as Apoos after the simpsons cartoons, you are licky it anything is the right date

  • Zoomer44Zoomer44 Posts: 2,908

    I've done something similar to Green Magpie brought a couple of chilli plants and a pepper plant indoors. These were the plants with the least red chilli and peppers on to see if they'll ripen. 

    I'm guessing some varieties take longer to mature than others as all my plants were  sown at the same time and grew in the same GH. Chilli cayenne have produced loads of long curly green chillies but few are red, Chilli Apache have mostly turned red and are beginning to dry out on the plant so I've cut the stem and it's hanging upside down in the GH drying.

    My round peppers have been small and slow to go green - yolo wonder and Californian Wonder. Also grew a pepper which was long and thin, this one has produced good sized fruit and will be coming indoors if it doesn't start to go black in the next few days.

    I'd be inclined to advise bringing in a coupe of chilli plants and see what happens, 2 plants are enough for any sized family, you have nothing to lose and they do look ornamental if strategically placed in the  kitchen/dinning  room or a conservatory.

    If you have a lot of plants with green fruit on they will ripen if cut off at the stem and hung upside down in a warmish place and those that don't - just pick the dried red one's. I still have dried chillies stored for 2yrs and as red as the day they were picked, they will be composted this yearimage

  • think i would need about 20 plants just for my husband, he has chilli in every meall!!! Still getting a fair amonut os sun and the greenhouse stays warm so hoping the rest will ripen.

  • thankyou guys i have been debating this myself. i planted some really late seeds and they are little plants about 2" tall so i will take these home with me and hopefully they eill be ok for next yea. think i will try a fleece on my fav hilli plant and compost the rest 

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