Over-wintering Hot Peppers


What a pleasant surprise discovering that the ‘Fatali’ Hot Pepper I started from seed in the Spring of 2006 (1 1/2 years ago) finally produced those adorable little wrinkly peppers I couldn’t wait to see. ‘Fatali’ is supposed to be one of the hottest known hot peppers with a heat that rivals ‘Habenero.’ I’m too afraid to actually try it and will have to enlist a friend to do the taste-test.

I don’t know why but this is the only variety I have ever grown that did not produce in its first year. In fact all it did last summer was put out leaves and stems without a single flower bud. The growing conditions were right and every other plant went berserk with fruit… the answer to this quandary continues to elude me.

Not one to give up, I brought the plant indoors last Fall once the temperature had dipped, nurturing it in a window with Southern exposure, then moving it to a space under grow lights when the window ledge grew too cold. Come late spring, once the last frost date was in the clear and warmer temperatures were on the way, I moved it to a protected spot outdoors, gradually shifting it closer to a full sun position once it was used to the hot sun and wind (this is called “Hardening Off”). The plant looked a little sad at first having been deprived indoors but quickly bounced back with fresh leaves a trim from my shears.

‘Variegata’ Hot Pepper

You can try overwintering just about any hot pepper indoors, including plants that have already produced a crop that year. I’m thinking about bringing in some of the attractive ornamental varieties I grew this summer. Space underneath the lights is always tricky around here but I just can’t bear to see those beautiful plants wither up and die outside.


Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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12 thoughts on “Over-wintering Hot Peppers

  1. Ciao Gayla-

    Wow that is so weird about your Fatalii not producing fruit during the first year. Duane grew them last year and man, were they ever prolific! I used a ton of them in salsas and I love the flavour they give them, even moreso I think than the Habs, which always have to be babied or they don’t do well here.

  2. I’m overwintering Fatali this year for sure. My sweetie tried one and LOVED them. He said the flavour was fantastic… before he was knocked over by the heat! But he loves the hot, so he was quite satisfied. :) We got about 4 fruit on two plants on the balcony (including two that aren’t ripe yet). The ones in my garden bed didn’t produce at all. :(

    I may also bring in my Chinese 5-colour because they really are gorgeous! If I can find the room, I may add the Ring of Fire, to see if we can get better production next year.

  3. Yay! I did not know you could over-winter peppers! About a year ago we had dinner at a mexican restaurant and they had these pretty red hot pepper plants on every table. I took one of the peppers and planted a few of the seeds and I was pleasantly surprised when I got PURPLE peppers! They go red when ripe of course. Now I have LOTS of these little peppers on the plant and they are exTREMEly hot but very prety.

  4. I overwintered a jalapeno once. Even though the ledge was dappled sunlight at best the thing kept producing fruit, it was amazing! I think I’m going to bring in a pepper plant this year too since I don’t want to say goodbye to my peppers quite just yet.

    Also – the flowers from that Verigata Hot Pepper are just lovely, you could almost grow it for that alone (almost…)

  5. Cool. I was thinking of overwintering one of my pepper plants. Only they are all in the ground. What is the chance the plant would survive indoors after being dug up, roots injured and all?

  6. Chili peppers are sold as house plants in the UK. It’s really common to grow them indoors. I’ve dug up numerous chilies that just haven’t got growing due to cold summers and potted them on. If you end up not getting a very good root ball, prune the top of the plant back a bit so that it doesn’t stress the roots out. they are a lot tougher than you think.

  7. FANTASTIC!!! I was wondering about my “hot” pepper plant.. I just brought it in anyway two weeks ago and it seems to be doing well!! I couldn’t let it go. Im glad to hear its possible!!

  8. Stephanie: Very possible. Some are pickier than others but it’s completely doable.

    Katie: Yes this variety turned out to be particularly beautiful. I’m headed over to my community garden plot today to dig up the other ‘Variegata’ plant I grew there. Far too beautiful to let it go.

    Alys: They are commonly sold here at this time of year too but people think 1. They are ornamental and therefore not edible 2. They’re considered a short-term gift plant. I think it is still difficult for most people to wrap their head around growing a beautiful edible plant as a houseplant… that is edible too.

    Summer: Alys already answered this one but I wanted to add that you should try to remove most of the ground soil and transplant into a container with potting soil…. don’t leave the garden soil in the pot.

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