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Overwintering annuals for year round enjoyment

 
gardener
Posts: 1401
Location: Zone 6b
939
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In my area frost free season runs from May to October. That doesn't mean I have to say goodbye to many beautiful flowers still blooming when frost hits. In late summer or fall, I start to look around and take cuttings of annuals to extend the season. By growing them in smaller pots I am able to fit more in limited space.

I usually choose plants that are: easy to care, pest free, highly ornamental, unavailable locally or difficult to start from seeds. In this way, I save money buying new plants every year. Actually they are doing so well indoor I propagate more to give away the whole winter.

Here are some of my favorites:
Geranium (pelargonium)
Kalanchoe
Coleus
Basil
Stevia
Sedum
Crassula
Nasturtium
Flowering kale
Strawberry

Do you grow annuals/tender perennials as indoor plants in winter too?
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pollinator
Posts: 1137
Location: Chicago
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Not so much with flowers, but I have a potted jalepeno pepper plant that I have now kept through two winters.  Not sure how will it will handle this its third year. In its second year, it still gave me more than a dozen peppers, but I did add compost and shells to the pot b/c it looked a bit malnourished.

 
May Lotito
gardener
Posts: 1401
Location: Zone 6b
939
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A few more pictures. I simply enjoy growing plants even though many have no practical use.
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Posts: 87
Location: North Central Idaho-Zone 6b (officially 7a)
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This is my first year trying to overwinter peppers, and I believe I'm going to have good success.

I had one pepper plant that I had been growing in a 5-gallon bucket.   Wasn't very happy, actually, but I managed to get a number of peppers from it.   Near the end of the season (after a lot of very hot days), it had a bunch of baby peppers.  I couldn't stand the thought of losing them, so I brought the whole bucket into my greenhouse.  They continued to grow, but very slowly.   As the days got shorter and shorter, I added grow lights.   My peppers are all turning red very nicely!!

I also had 3 other varieties that were in the ground or raised beds.   I following some instructions I found, cutting off all leaves and most branches, all the way down to the first  'Y', then pushing a shovel straight down all the way around the plant before lifting it up.   I have put these in 1-2 gallon pots, and because of the conditions in my greenhouse, they are already sprouting leaves.   I guess I'll just let them go ahead, rather than trying to force them to stay dormant.
 
pollinator
Posts: 285
Location: The Arkansas Ozarks
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We substantially increased the size of our garden this year and have eaten zucchini for nearly six solid months.   We have frozen numerous batches of tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce, tomato paste and have freeze dried some also.  We had a bumper crop of okra growing it for the first time.   We have so many winter squash, acorn, Japanese,  butter nut, pumpkins, pie pumpkins, etc. that we over ran our storage area. Watermelons. Cucumbers, cantaloupe, peas, green beans,  greens,  onions,  potatoes, lettuce, arugula, etc., etc. etc.

The reason I started this list was to emphasize that we had a great year in the garden but the pepper crop was a bit of a disappointment.  We got some peppers,  but not a huge harvest. Then September rolled around.   OMG,  Cathy started making Fajitas once or twice a week to make a dent in the pepper harvest.   We overran our refrigerators,  I had a large cooler full of bags of peppers, which I had to daily swap out frozen water bottles to keep them cold.    We canned pepper's, we froze peppers. We even freeze Ä‘ried some.

The wife did not want to lose her pepper plants so we went searching for a greenhouse.   A few years ago,  I could have built one in a couple weeks, but sadly those days are but a memory.   I can still do those kind of things but what used to take days,  now takes weeks or months.   We bought a 12 x 16 Greenhouse which took about 4 weeks to get here.   Had we relied on the Greenhouse to save the pepper plants they would have all succumbed to the first freeze several weeks ago.

Instead we converted part of our garage into a hothouse with plant lights. We purchased several Patio Pickers which are plastic self watering containers on wheelsthat are roughly 20 x 24 x 10 inches on wheels.   We transplanted 4 to 5 peeps into each planter. We ended up with over 50 pepper plants in the garage.   Some continued to produce under the lights, while some were unhappy at least initially from the transplanting shock.

We have spent the last 3 weeks,  insulating,  modifying,  sealing, etc. the Greenhouse.  This year we will need supplemental heat for the peppes to survive and thrive,  but when I finish with modifications and expansion next spring the Greenhouse should require little or no electricity to run.

When we first took delivery the greenhouse temps were daily swinging from 40 degrees to 110.  Now it is more in thee range of 50 to 80 most days.   The peppers are migrating from the garage.   At the moment we only have about 20 peppers still under lights in the garage.   Most of the insulating is done but I am still sealing it up and caulking. It will provide plenty of work for the next several weeks.

It has not been an inexpensive project,  but we are shooting to be producing a large percentage of our food organically by next year.

The moral of the story is that with hard work and not an insignificant amount of cash,  we were able to save our late season pepper champions.   We expect great things from the "team" next year and multi month production of peppers.   We hope to be eating a lot of fajitas next summer.


 
May Lotito
gardener
Posts: 1401
Location: Zone 6b
939
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Hi Ralph, 20 pepper plants! That's totally worth giving it a try.
I overwintered peppers in the last couple years. One lesson I learned is that they need lots of light indoors. If not, and the soil is rich, free nitrate will build up to encourage aphids. In my area, pepper plants have to stay indoors for 6 months. They survive but never thrive the following year. You have a warmer weather so they should do better.
 
gardener
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Location: Southern Germany
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May Lotito wrote:. In my area, pepper plants have to stay indoors for 6 months. They survive but never thrive the following year.


I am not familiar with the zoning system so I am not sure how to compare to my climate. 6 months, that sounds like very far north (or south)... But then I did the count myself: starting November until mid May, that is at least 6 months for my climate as well!
My plants do not get very large but thrive they did. The picture was taken in summer with only part of the fruit. I got loads from that one plant, and it looked so sad in winter!
I have cut back a lot, removed most of the leaves, and it looks like it is sprouting new tiny leaves already.
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My pepper plant in summer
My pepper plant in summer
 
pollinator
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The individual variety means a lot when it comes to cold-hardiness. For example, Dark Star zucchini, renowned for it's drought-tolerance, is also more frost-resistant than other zucchini. Still not super hardy, but 2 or 3 degrees of hardiness can make a big difference in marginal situations.

Peppers vary even more--there are 3 different varieties, originating in climates from hot tropical jungle to desert to cool mountains. Serranos ( the name means "from the hills") seem to be the most hardy of the common ones I've grown. They even have some fuzz on their leaves to prevent freezing.

The very best pepper I've found for overwintering is the Criolla Sella pepper from the Andes. https://www.quailseeds.com/store/p32/Criolla_Sella_Hot_Pepper.html  They are a small golden pepper with a fruity, habanero-type flavor but with more manageable hotness, about like a serrano. Fabulous in the kitchen, and beautiful as a house plant. They have a bushy round shape like a miniature oak tree only 3 feet tall. A single plant can bear up to a hundred peppers.

For overwintering, a larger pot is better. I like to use big tubs if I can, with several plants in them. That way if the perimeter freezes, the roots in the center stay unfrozen and alive. I usually give them some kelp meal or seaweed to promote hardiness as the weather cools in September, and mulch with leaves. Don't let them dry up, but don't overwater. Then in spring a dressing of compost or manure and a good watering gets them going again. All the usual winter protection can be used inside the greenhouse during cold snaps--fleece or bedsheets, cloches, etc. This might be a good time for the slight but even heat of a compost pile or bin of wet wood chips inside the greenhouse as well. It's worth experimenting with, anyway.
 
pioneer
Posts: 115
Location: Insko, Poland zone 7a
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We just made our move to Northwestern Poland from a more tropical environment of Taiwan.  I made sure to bring plant starts for Taro, Yacon, Vetiver, and a delicious variety of Banana that doesn't grow too tall.  Its just the beginning of Winter here, and im not certain if the plants will make it through, but if they do I feel very confident in being able to keep them going, and producing, especially if we can create a small compost heated passive solar greenhouse by next winter.  

For now the plant starts have been placed in recycled buckets, which I reclaimed from a dumpster years ago. I drilled some holes in the bottoms, filled them with a biochar, sand, compost mix, and placed them on top of their own lids to keep the water from damaging anything as it seeps through. A little bit of peat moss on the surface tells me when its time to water. Ive been using rainwater/snow melt and water from a nearby lake for now.  A fireplace nearby keeps them at a cozy temperature. We don't intent to let the temperature to drop below 15 Celsius inside the house. The outside temperatures have already been getting down to -4 C, and we are approaching the winter solstice, so having enough light is my main concern for now.  

Hopefully they make it through!  I don't think there are many people growing these species at 50 degrees North Latitude.  
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Loretta Liefveld
Posts: 87
Location: North Central Idaho-Zone 6b (officially 7a)
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Ralph Kettell wrote:We ended up with over 50 pepper plants in the garage.  


OMG!   50???  no wonder you were overrun with peppers  LOL



When we first took delivery the greenhouse temps were daily swinging from 40 degrees to 110.  


I feel your pain.   It is so hard to handle those huge swings.  We have them in the fall, also.


 
May Lotito
gardener
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I didn't bring in any pepper due to space limitation. But I have some Chinese five-color pepper seed to start soon for an ornamental plant.
The key lime takes the entire window this year.
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Key lime in full bloom
Key lime in full bloom
 
May Lotito
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Arthur Wierzchos wrote:We just made our move to Northwestern Poland from a more tropical environment of Taiwan.  I made sure to bring plant starts for Taro, Yacon, Vetiver, and a delicious variety of Banana that doesn't grow too tall.



Hi Arthus, all the plants are budding they sure look happy in the new home maybe you will give them bigger pots very quickly. Those massive foliage will make your home look like a tropical paradise in winter.
 
Loretta Liefveld
Posts: 87
Location: North Central Idaho-Zone 6b (officially 7a)
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Arthur Wierzchos wrote:We just made our move to Northwestern Poland from a more tropical environment of Taiwan.  

Hopefully they make it through!  I don't think there are many people growing these species at 50 degrees North Latitude.  



Wow - moving from Taiwan to Poland!  You will definitely have a challenge learning to deal with all that cold weather and snow.  But that's what I love about gardening - always a learning adventure.   In the meantime, I'm thrilled you brought starts with you, and they are growing!   I do think you will have to actually  heat your greenhouse, though.
 
gardener
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Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 10,500 feet, zone 5
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Here's to overwintering a few choice plants indoors!

I don't like to have too many houseplants, because there's always one pest or another and anyway they become clutter if there are too many plants indoors, but I do enjoy keeping a few going.

I had petunias last 3 years, going outside for summer and in for winter, and getting a hard cut-back in spring.

A geranium (pelargonium) has been going in the same pot without repotting for 4 years, still looking great, again with a hard cut-back in the spring.

Fuchsia are lovely, but rather than keeping it green for winter, I pull the leaves off (or let them get killed by first light frost) and store it under the chilly stairs for the winter.
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Jade plant, Crassula
Jade plant, Crassula
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Petunias overwintering in a window (They go outdoors for summer)
Petunias overwintering in a window (They go outdoors for summer)
 
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