Most chilli growers raise their plants as annuals, dispensing of them after harvest, but with a little care and gentle warmth,it’s possible to over winter them and keep them going for several years.
Overwintering chilli plants gives them a head start the following year against new plants raised from seed, meaning a much longer fruiting season and higher yields as a result. But before that, it allows you to keep greenfingered over winter when there is less work to do in the garden.
The end of October is the ideal time to start the overwintering process. Choose your healthiest plant, remove all remaining fruits and give it a hard prune, taking the main stem down to 10-15cm. You can also re-pot the plant now, but I prefer to do this in spring when it wakes up again.
Through winter the aim is to effectively shut down all plant growth and hold it in stasis – all signs of life should disappear.
A sunny windowsill is the best spot to keep your plant over winter unless you have a heated greenhouse. With no foliage and no growth, plants will take up far less water through winter so reduce watering dramtically. Check compost weekly but only water when it feels dry, this may be as infrequent as every 2-3 weeks.
As light levels increase moving towards spring, your plants will show signs of new life over a period of two or three weeks. At this stage increase watering and re-pot if not done in October.