Are Bell Peppers Perennial – How To Overwinter Bell Peppers

You may have thought that bell peppers cannot survive the winter, until you witness the plant thriving all year round in some gardens. What is going on? Are bell peppers perennial?

are bell peppers perennial

The truth is it depends on where they are grown. Bell pepper plants are particularly annual when they live in hot zones, specifically tropical climates. 

If you happen to live somewhere with a chilly winter, don’t worry about saying goodbye to your tasty harvest during this period. Overwintering peppers is the way to go!

It not only shortens the time to fruit production but also extends the picking period, giving you a bountiful and early harvest. In this article, I’ll walk you through the process of overwintering bell peppers and share some tips for success.

Moving Bell Peppers Indoors for Winter

are bell peppers perennial

Most gardeners treat bell peppers as annuals, sowing, growing, and picking them before bidding farewell at the end of the season. 

However, with the right conditions, bell peppers can be perennial plants that happily overwinter to the next year. And the benefits are abundant! 

By coaxing your bell peppers to keep going, you’ll ensure a heavier harvest, enjoy an extended picking period, and gain a head start on the new growing season.

  • To successfully overwinter your bell peppers, you’ll need healthy plants, a frost-free spot, and a watchful eye for their arch-nemesis, the aphid. 

Luckily, if you have windowsill space or a conservatory, you’re already one step closer to giving overwintering a try.

Preparing Peppers for Overwintering

are bell peppers perennial
Credit: K F/Unsplash

To increase your chances of success, it’s best to start with bell peppers that are already growing in pots. This minimizes the risk of root disturbance and potential failure. 

However, if you have robust plants growing in the ground, you can carefully dig them up, preserving as much of their original root ball as possible. 

  • Pot them into large containers filled with fresh potting mix, ensuring that the top growth is reduced by half to three-quarters to compensate for the inevitable loss of roots. 

With a little luck, you should achieve successful overwintering.

Container-grown 

Container-grown bell peppers can be pruned to fit the available space. Make clean cuts just above a bud using sharp secateurs. 

As fall progresses, the stems may die back further, but don’t panic! Simply prune back to where the stems are green. 

Some leaves may turn yellow and drop off, which is completely normal. During winter, some plants may even sit leafless, only to burst into growth again come spring.

Temperature, Light, and Water Needs

are bell peppers perennial

Overwintered bell peppers need a location that remains comfortably above freezing. An indoor windowsill away from heat sources or a conservatory are ideal spots. 

While light levels are naturally low during winter, indoors they can be even lower. 

Therefore, place your bell pepper plants on the sunniest windowsill or in a conservatory, where the light quality is generally superior.

When it comes to watering, keep the potting mix barely moist. Let it almost dry out before watering, as the plants slow down in lower light levels. 

Remember

Water infrequently, allowing the plants to soak up the moisture before ensuring any excess drains away freely from the base of the pots. 

Be vigilant, as aphids are likely to be a recurring issue indoors. Regularly clear them off the plant by squishing and wiping them away with a damp cloth or spraying them with water.

are bell peppers perennial

How To Resurrect Overwintered Peppers

About a month and a half before the last frost date, re-pot your bell peppers into fresh multipurpose compost mixed with a little organic general-purpose fertilizer. This will give them a boost as they start to regrow. 

Remove about 3-5cm (1-2in) of the old growing medium around the rootball, then re-pot the peppers into the same container or a slightly larger one with the fresh compost. 

As soon as you notice signs of regrowth, increase the frequency of watering. 

The Reviving Process

are bell peppers perennial

A week or two before the last frost date, you can move the plants to a greenhouse or hoop house, ensuring you can bring them back indoors if a particularly cold night is forecasted.

With improved light levels and rising temperatures, the leaves will start to grow thicker and faster, and new branches will develop. 

Once you see flower buds forming, it’s time to begin feeding the peppers again. Use a liquid feed high in potassium to encourage flowering and fruiting. 

If everything goes according to plan, you should enjoy your first fruits a full month ahead of plants sown in the spring. Good luck!

are bell peppers perennial

Recap

Overwintering bell peppers is a fantastic way to maximize your harvest and give yourself a head start on the next growing season. 

By following these steps and providing the right conditions, you can enjoy a longer picking period and heavier yield. 

So why not give it a try and see the remarkable results for yourself? Your taste buds will thank you!