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Last year, I got a chilli plant sapling from a family friend. It planted and grew quite well, yielding around three batches during the summer; the chillies are long, green, and turn a bright red if left long enough on the plant.

The family friend suggested "save some seeds," but it was too late in the season and I didn't save any.

Research online suggests that many (most?) of these plants are annual. How can I be sure if mine is annual or perennial?

I left the plant in the soil throughout winter (-20 to -30C). Now that it's thawed out (mostly), I can see the stalks look okay. I pruned the tallest ones down to a few inches, and removed all the hanging dead leaves.

I would like to grow the same thing, so I need to figure out as quickly as possible if I should wait/watch (and is it worth the extra effort?) the current one, or yank it out and replace it with a new one.

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All peppers are perennial in their native habitat. They are grown as annuals elsewhere.

You can technically overwinter peppers indoors, and given the right conditions they will survive.

Peppers are like tomatoes in that they can't survive a hard freeze, so consider it gone.

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Peppers are tropical plants that originated in South America, so it's pretty unlikely that your plants survived the winter given those cold temperatures. Peppers are typically considered perennials if they're grown south of the equator.

http://www.happynews.com/living/cooking/chilis-perennials-annuals.htm

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I agree - it's dead. Peppers only survive over winter in warm winter climates or in heated greenhouses. However, if you can do some research to try to figure out what type of pepper it was, you may be able to replace it this year with one of the same kind.

By the way, saving seeds from peppers is extremely simple - simply take a ripe pepper or two and open them up, scrape the seeds from the inside onto a plate, and let them dry for several days in a warm, dry spot. Put the seeds into a paper envelope, mark it, and you're set for next year.

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The correct answer to this is "it depends."

Most or all chilli peppers are actually perennial (see other answers). The problem is, this depends on exactly where you live; if your climate is warm enough, you're cool.

Since I'm obviously in a winter climate, the question is: how do I make my chilli peppers survive, given that all of them are perennial?

Here's where "it depends" comes into place. Generally, you need extra prep-work in the fall to over-winter them successfully; but this takes a lot of effort (and it's too late now, since I'm asking in early spring).

Given this, the best approach would have been to save some dry seeds from the plant for next year. I'll do that this year, if I can.

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