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It's not quite time yet1, but I'm wondering if it will be worthwhile keeping my indoor peppers plants alive over the winter. What I've stumbled across so far seems to indicate they will probably just stop producing fruit when conditions are not good enough (lack of sun and/or low temperature). Is this accurate or can I expect further problems?

They won't be exposed to frost, but will probably be exposed to "cold" temperatures overnight and they will obviously get less sunlight (I won't be specifically heating/lighting the plants and I don't heat my home overnight).

If I keep them alive over the winter will they just start to produce fruit again in the spring?
Will next year's fruit be of similar quality, size and quantity?
Will having fully grown plants already mean they start producing fruit earlier?
Will having fully grown plants expose me to other problems (eg, them becoming pot bound sooner)?

1. My side-motive here is to find out if I should re-pot my pot bound plant now to save it ready for next year, or if doing so will ultimately be a waste of time. But I'd like to know what I should do with these plants generally as I've another three to work out at some point, so may as well get them covered now!

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

It sounds like these are outdoors with reasonable sunlight? If so, I would try it - the effort of re-potting one pepper plant is pretty small and there's a good chance it will work. Actually I would try all three as an experiment and use your findings for future years.

This is based on my experiences: Here in Texas, low temperatures will make the plants outside go "dormant". They're still alive and I think they'll probably still put leaves out, but no fruit will form. A mild frost will knock them back but not kill them - it can damage the fruit though. The last fruit will be late November (Thanksgiving time) and the plants will survive until the first hard frost (typically by Christmas). If it wasn't for the hard frosts, I think they would survive to the new year.

I have brought them indoors and I have managed to over-winter them like this. BUT there is an attrition. They lose their leaves and seem more susceptible to disease. I think the primary problem here is lack of sunlight. Also being indoors, once I get some aphids/whatever, they'll spread quickly.

Once over-wintered, I always plant them out, they quickly grow back their leaves, and you find you have a good adult plant by mid/late spring! So yes you get your fruit earlier - or more fruit earlier because you have an adult plant at an earlier stage. When I've done this, the fruit have been of the same size and quality.

As well as becoming pot-bound, watch for adding more supports. Pepper plants can get larger than their stems can support - especially when laden with fruit.

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They are indoors-only plants; have lived in pots on sun-facing windows sills since I got them. Re-potting is going to be fairly awkward for me because I have no outside space (1st floor flat) and would have to buy a bigger pot and probably some soil/compost. Anyway, I think the main point you're making is "yes, it works", so thanks! However, I'm still tempted to dispose of the sickly plant anyway and maybe replace it with a tomato plant or something else. –  DMA57361 Sep 29 '11 at 14:48
    
Yes if a plant is already sickly then it is less likely to survive. –  winwaed Sep 29 '11 at 15:17
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