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I have a bhut jolokia that is now going on 7 years old. Each year, I put it outside after last frost. 2-3 months later, I am able to harvest ripe peppers. At the end of the season, I bring it back inside. Typically there are only a couple of developing peppers at this point (maybe 2-3), as flowering and pepper production noticeably slows down towards the end of the season.

Once inside, it is placed near a large bay window, where it gets a fair amount of indirect sun. The last few peppers ripen (usually), but any remaining flowers fall off.

I had always assumed that the duration of sunlight each day triggered flowering, but I've since read that photoperiod supposedly has no effect on peppers.

What causes my plant to start flowering again? Is it possible to get it to flower inside during winter without a full indoor lighting system (i.e. can I use natural winter sunlight, possibly supplemented with one or two LED or other inexpensive grow lights)?

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It's largely temperature dependent (assuming nutrients and water are sufficient). They like 70-85degF during the day and 60-70 degF overnight. That overnight temperature might be difficult to achieve indoors in winter, but even if you did induce flowering, you will only get fruit if you pollinate the plants yourself, because there are no pollinating insects indoors.

  • Is the delay between the time I first bring the plant outside, and the time to first flowers (a month or more) due to needing a sustained period of time within those temperature ranges? Right now (I brought it outside 2 weeks ago after hardening) it is within those ranges perhaps 4-5 days out of the week, but I expect it to be close to another month before I see flowers. – Beofett May 23 '18 at 18:14
  • Well nothing happens overnight - the plant has to receive the message its time to flower and then wait for the plant hormones it produces to do their work – Bamboo May 23 '18 at 21:11
  • Well HUH. Photoperiod has no effect on flowering and reproductive growth for peppers? I think photoperiod is hugely responsible. Is this a normal routine for the past 7 years? One thing all plants share is the directive to reproduce. When plants are at the end of their lives, things not looking great in the environment they will put on a last display...that is amazing. The want to make seed before they die. Moving your plants inside and back out of doors and then back indoors is tough work. You actually know about acclimating. I have a feeling your plant may be very confused. – stormy May 24 '18 at 3:58
  • And pollination is a deal breaker...for growing food during the winter. – stormy May 24 '18 at 4:00
  • @stormy pepper plants can easily self-pollinate. In the absence of a good breeze and some insect helpers, a simple application of a clean, fine-tipped paint brush should suffice. – Beofett May 24 '18 at 12:36
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There are some things you can try that have helped me with my pepper indoors:

  • If the plant is already the maximum size for its container, prune it a lot. New flowers are more likely to come with new growth. If you leave old growth on forever, it may just sit there, and stop growing, especially if it's missing some nutrients or if the container is too small.
  • Get a bigger container (not that I've tried this with my particular pepper, but I know it helps)
  • Add wood ash and a phosphate fertilizer (like monoammonium phosphate or monopotassium phosphate). Phosphates encourage flowering, and potassium is important for fruit size. As for wood ash (which has trace minerals, calcium, potassium and stuff), I've found that it tends to help the overall health of the plant, and it's one of my favorite things to give indoor peppers and other edible plants in small containers. If the plant is depleted of something essential, it's probably not going to set much if any fruit. Mixed fertilizers aren't always effective, but they have the potential to be effective. Wood ash by itself is still great, but doesn't have a lot of phosphorus (it still has some); if you have compost or something, that might be a good substitute for phosphorus.
  • Follow Bamboo's advice on temperature.

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