If you are asking this question then you probably have a prolific pepper plant or one that is producing flavorful peppers or that is producing peppers with just the right ‘heat’. Or perhaps you want to know how long peppers live.
Whatever your reason for asking this question, I have got the answer for you in this article. I will also tell you how to make your pepper plant or plants live longer.
So, How Long Do Pepper Plants Live?
Pepper plants live in gardens for only a single growing season. This is because they cannot survive the winter. However, in warm climates that do not experience true winters pepper plants can live longer if they are well taken care of. Even in places that experience winter, peppers can live longer if they are overwintered.
With the above in mind, it is important to note that while most pepper plants can be overwintered or can live longer than one growing season in warm climates, only some plants are hardy enough and suitable for overwintering or growing for more than one season in warm climates.
Types of Pepper Plants and How Long They Can Live
There are five main types of peppers, namely Capsicum baccatum, Capsicum pubescens, Capsicum frutescens, Capsicum chinense, and Capsicum annuum.
|Type of Pepper||Examples|
|Capsicum baccatum||Aji peppers|
|Capsicum pubescens||Rocoto peppers|
|Capsicum frutescens||Thai peppers and tabasco peppers|
|Capsicum chinense||Scotch bonnet, habanero, and datil peppers|
|Capsicum annuum||Cayenne, jalapeno, ancho, sweet, and bell peppers|
All the main types of pepper live only one growing season before dying in winter if they are not overwintered. If they are overwintered, their season can be extended and they can all live longer. All the main types of pepper plants can be overwintered over and over again to live for many years.
However, the best types of pepper for overwintering are Capsicum chinense peppers. This is because they are hardy and continue being productive after overwintering. Capsicum chinense peppers are also the best type of peppers to grow in warm climates because they are adapted to such climates and generally live longer than other types of peppers in such climates.
Most home gardeners in the West grow Capsicum annuum peppers such as sweet peppers, bell peppers, hot peppers, jalapeno, cayenne, and so on. You are most probably growing or considering growing Capsicum annuum peppers yourself.
While Capsicum annuum peppers are not the best types of pepper to overwinter, they can definitely be overwintered to live longer and continue producing peppers. And if well taken care of, they can generally be overwintered over and over again for years just like Capsicum chinense peppers. They can also live for years in warm climates if well taken care of.
How to Extend the Life of Your Pepper Plants
As you now know, pepper plants generally live for only one growing season and then die in winter. As you also know, pepper plants can be overwintered to protect them from winter and make them live longer. In this section, I am going to tell you how exactly to extend the life of your pepper plants through overwintering.
Overwintering is simply transferring your plants indoors to protect them from freezing temperatures during winter. I am going to show you how to do it in this section so that you can extend the life of your pepper plants.
How to Overwinter Your Pepper Plants in Six Steps
Move your Pepper Plants Indoors
This is the whole point of overwintering. You cannot leave your plants outside and expect them to survive the freezing temperatures of winter. They will die. To bring your peppers inside, you will have to carefully dig them out two weeks before the first frost date.
But before you do so, you should remove all ripe and unripe peppers on them. Removing all peppers will make your plants to focus their energy on survival instead of ripening their fruits.
After removing all the peppers, you should spray down your plants carefully to remove all pests. This will save you from transferring pests indoors. After spraying your plants, you should dig them out slowly (taking care not to damage their roots).
You should then shake them to remove the soil on their roots and then transplant them in planter pots using potting soil. Once all your plants are transplanted into pots, you should water them and then transfer the pots inside.
Move them To the Right Location
After moving your potted pepper plants indoors, you should find a place that is cool and dark and leave the pots there. Anywhere that is cool and dark will force your pepper plants to enter dormancy.
They will not grow or thrive and will look dead. But do not worry. This is the best state for them during winter. Because it will make them focus their energy on staying alive and nothing else. To make your pepper plants dormant faster, you should only water them very minimally.
If you cannot find a cool and dark place for your plants, you can place them on your window sills. Since they will be getting light, they will not become completely dormant. However, they will be forced to focus their energy on survival if you reduce watering them significantly.
Reduce Watering Your Plants
As mentioned above, you need to cut back on watering your plants if you want them to enter survival mode. And when you cut back on watering you will notice that your plants will look like they are wilting and dying and they will probably shed many leaves. This should not alarm you because it is normal when people are overwintering.
Prune Your Plants
When you reduce watering you will notice leaves starting to fall off, you should also get a sharp pair of scissors and prune your plants extensively. By pruning extensively, I mean you should cut off at least 50 percent of the branches on your pepper plant.
The purpose of doing this is to leave very few leaves for your plants to support in the low-light and dark area they will be in your house. The fewer leaves to support, the more energy your plants will have to strengthen and support themselves.
Maintain Your Plants
Even after pruning your plants, they will continue to shed leaves because you will only be watering them minimally. Therefore, you should maintain them by removing their dead or injured leaves.
You should also maintain them by removing them by making sure they do not get totally dehydrated. So feel the soil in your pots regularly to know when to add water.
Also, eliminate any pests you find on them.
Resurrect Your Plants
Five weeks to the last frost date, you should resurrect your plants. Resurrecting dormant/ survival mode pepper plants is much easier than making them dormant in the first place. To resurrect your dormant plants, you should transfer the pots carrying them from the cool and dark place to a warm and bright area in your house or garage.
If you cannot find a warm and bright place in your house, you should buy grow lights. The light and warmth will resurrect them. In addition to exposing them to light, you should water them more frequently and even add fertilizer.
I promise you that if you made your plants dormant in the right way, the combination of light, warmth, sufficient water, and fertilizer will resurrect them. By the end of winter, your plants will be strong enough to be returned back to the garden and within two months they will resume producing peppers for you.
The Take-Home Message
Pepper plants generally live only for one season and die because of winter. Overwintering them is the best solution to protecting them from winter and making them live longer.