Winter is creeping upon us and I brought in all my summer peppers. In the past, I’d stuff a bunch of peppers to a bag of soil and let them chill dormant in my garage. This year I’m going to overwinter the strong peppers and do pepper cuttings in compost.
It got low enough for them to effectively sleep and then I’d move them in February to revive under my indoor grow lights. They would then build up leaves and start setting flowers for peppers from mid-March (with cold protections) to about November or whenever the cold snaps started.
Now I’m in a whole other growing zone and having to relearn things as location changes things. I’m in a locale where my reliable figs won’t do well and I can forget about citrus unless they are indoors.
I went from a zone 7b state to a zone 4 state. The garage is unheated so I’m having to compromise. I’ve had to be more creative with wintering the peppers and I will get to that in a different post.
Something I like to tell the uninitiated or the newbie gardeners is peppers are your friend and they are usually more forgiving than tomatoes. They seem to have less growing challenges. I’ve had them do well in the extreme heat as well as had them do better with some brutal drought conditions.
Tomatoes do extremely well it is true. But when growing conditions got weird it was the peppers that needed less babying.
The harvest was also way better on older peppers. They can also be made functionally perennial so long as they don’t die of freezing conditions.
Prep for Pepper Cuttings in Compost
This post isn’t about wintering peppers though. The important thing to note is you don’t have to start every new plant from seed. You will often prune your peppers back down to something more manageable and can turn the cuttings into new plants.
To clone easily you will need some basic supplies.
Helpful items when taking cuttings:
- tags for naming cutting
- rooting hormone
- sharp knife
- branch from the pepper
- potting soil
Cloning Steps For Pepper Cuttings in Compost
- You need your pepper specimen ready.
2. You need to collect your branch. You will want to cut the branch in the upper-middle part of the stem. You want some nodes and some leaf material remaining.
3. Be sure to cut the long stem down to something more manageable. Then remove most leaves to reduce the overall load on the stem. The main focus is getting more attention to go to forming roots instead of supporting extra leaves, flowers, or fruits.
4. There should be some leaves remaining and we want to cut the bigger leaves into smaller leaves. Having the leaves smaller increases the overall efficiency of the rooting process. The end tip should be oblique cut for improved success.
5. The next step is to make a very clean oblique cut. This form of cut improves the water uptake and root formation.
6. With the stem prepared the next step is to use a preferred cloning solution. Some like to buy store stuff, like Clonex. Others make their own rooting solution with willow water made by soaking willow tips and wood in water for many days.
7. The oblique cut and much of the bottom stem should be soaked with rooting hormone. This gives the greatest success with cuttings and the harder to root plants have more success.
‘8. You want to move the cutting into a container filled with potting soil.
I like to use an old pencil to poke a hole in the soil so I can pop in the cutting without smearing off the cloning liquid or powder.
11. The last step is very low tech and I use a bunch of old clear containers for makeshift greenhouses or humidity boxes.
12. The main thing to worry about in the last step is keeping the cuttings in a situation where humidity is high and light is present. They need moisture as well as some ventilation. Some of my boxes used for cloning have strips cut around the top when I’m too busy for constant attention. You want roots, not rot.
The presence of moisture will help keep the plant hydrated as the stem cut and leaves work to keep the cutting moist. In a couple of weeks the first slivers of tiny roots will emerge.
I usually tend and fertilize the plant like normal and don’t remove until the pepper is showing a hefty new growth.
It helps to collect many cuttings as even with the best conditions some peppers will not root easily. They will rot and fail to thrive. Other peppers seem to root with minimal effort.
My medium of choice is my finished compost usually enhanced with worm castings. I tend not to use peat products as they seem to negatively affect pepper growth.
There is a lot of controversy for the last few years around peat products such as the pots and seed starting peat discs. The latest of such news is out of the UK where they want to flat ban peat products and work to restore peat land.