Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Overwintering Peppers

One of my two Manzanos
Last fall, I learned that peppers can be grown as perennials. (Daniel has written on this, too.) I was fascinated with the prospect of having year-round chiles, and so decided to overwinter a few plants. (And by a few, I mean about a dozen, some of which were easily three feet tall, and in 18" pots.) Since October, when I took them in, two thirds of the plants have mysteriously died. I'm not sure if it had to do with the diminishing amount of light in our house, or the constant harassment by our cats, but one by one, eight of the pepper plants withered. Perhaps it was because I was taking in someone else's plants, and giving them a kind of care they were not used to. For weeks, the death of the plants bothered me constantly; but now, I look at the four surviving plants, and am glad to see them alive, if not quite thriving.

My own personal woes aside, overwintering chiles is pretty miraculous. And even the concept seems almost familiar. So many of the people I've talked to about this have mentioned remembering--sometime, somewhere--a tiny, decorative indoor chile plant. And if it can be done with small chile plants, why not bigger ones? The key is steady fertilizing, watering, pruning, and pest control. I'm being vigilant and hope that my chile plants will make it until Spring.

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