Jalapeno plants can live around 5-10 years with proper care. Generally, this occurs in tropical climates because jalapenos are killed by frost. However, this pepper species can survive cold temperatures with special care. Winter proofing your peppers requires simulating a warm climate in winter. Below, we’ll get into care tips for surviving cold snaps and getting the most life out of your jalapeno pepper plants.
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Can Jalapeño Plants Survive Winter?
Under the right conditions, jalapeno plants can survive winter. In the tropical regions where peppers are native, they survive for 5–10 years. However, jalapeno plants do enter winter dormancy. So, when your jalapeno starts losing its leaves in the fall, that doesn’t mean the plant is dying. If properly cared for, the plant will grow new leaves in spring.
How Long Will a Jalapeño Plant Produce Peppers?
A jalapeno plant will produce peppers every year of its life. A large jalapeno plant that is several years old will produce more peppers than a smaller, younger plant. So, it pays to take care of jalapenos and ensure they survive the winter.
6 Tips To Keep Your Jalapeño Plants Alive in Winter
Jalapenos can survive the winter with a bit of forethought and care. These plants will go dormant in the winter but that does not necessarily mean they’re dead. Here’s how to care for your plant so you can enjoy large jalapeno harvests for years to come.
Bring Them Indoors in Winter
Bringing potted jalapeno plants into your home during cold weather is the simplest and most cost-effective tip on this list. If it’s cold outside and warm inside, why not bring your hot peppers to the warmth? Although jalapenos love the sun, if they’ve entered winter dormancy and dropped their leaves, you don’t need to worry about providing your plants with much sunlight until spring.
- Growing jalapenos indoors will keep them warm.
- If your plants still have green leaves, make sure your jalapenos get enough sun while indoors (at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day).
If your jalapeno still has green leaves, it requires 6 hours of direct sunlight each day. If growing your jalapenos indoors, place them somewhere sunny like a south-facing window. This will maximize indirect light exposure.
Consider Greenhouse Jalapeños
Jalapenos love to grow in a sunny spot with direct light. However, they can tolerate indirect light if they’re in a greenhouse. A greenhouse can simulate the ideal conditions for a jalapeno plant even in the dead of winter. A heated greenhouse can even regulate nighttime temperatures.
- Greenhouses are the best solution for keeping your jalapenos alive in winter.
- Consider building your own greenhouse to provide winter protection for sensitive plants.
This makes a greenhouse one of the most effective solutions for getting jalapenos to survive those months. However, owning a greenhouse is also the most expensive solution on this list. If you’d like to save money, you can construct your own greenhouse on a base of concrete pavers.
Cover Outdoor Jalapeño Plants
If you live in a region with mild winters, you can keep jalapenos alive in the colder months by using a garden row cover. This method is cost-effective but it only works in a limited range of temperatures. Jalapenos are killed even in the lightest frost. Temperatures of 32℉ (0℃) will doom your pepper plant. Because row covers will only add about 10℉ (5℃) of protection, row covers won’t save jalapenos from temperatures below 22℉ (-5℃).
- Using this row cover combined with a heating source can help your jalapeno plant survive a mild winter.
- Cover jalapenos at night to protect from deadly frost.
- A row cover will keep jalapenos alive in temperatures as low as 22℉ (-5℃).
- If temperatures dip below 22℉ (-5℃), a row cover won’t be enough to keep them alive.
You can increase the protection a row cover provides by adding a heating element. Consider placing a heat lamp or jug of hot water under the row cover, next to the plant. This will trap warm air inside the cover to make the plant even more frost-resistant.
Water During Winter
Keeping your soil moist during winter will help regulate soil temperature. Moist soil is more resistant to freezing than dry soil or wet soil. Soil with some moisture is wet enough to conduct heat better than loose dirt but not wet enough to freeze solid.
- Water jalapenos through the winter months to protect the roots from frost.
- Moist—but not wet—soil will resist freezing better than dry or muddy soil.
- Always water from overhead at the warmest time of the day if watering in winter.
Water your plants at the hottest point in the day (usually mid-afternoon). This will give water the chance to soak into the ground without freezing. This solution is cost-effective and provides essential protection for the roots of your plants
Add 2–4 inches (5–10 cm) of mulch around your jalapeno plants to insulate the soil. The mulch will trap heat and moisture during the day, which will keep the plant warm as nighttime temperatures drop.
- Spread a 2–4-inch thick (5–10 cm) layer of mulch on the root zone of your jalapenos.
- Mulch will help retain heat and moisture during the day, keeping the soil warm during cold nights.
- Combined mulch and winter watering can help prevent deadly freezes that will kill jalapeno roots.
Frozen ground can kill jalapeno roots, dooming the entire plant. Combined with watering, a layer of mulch will prevent roots from freezing.
Remove dead or diseased branches from your jalapeno plant in fall or winter. These branches will act as weak spots in winter, leaving an opening for plant disease and rot to attack your plant.
- Prune dead, weak, or damaged branches from your jalapeno.
- If left unpruned, weak branches allow your plant to be attacked by disease in winter.
- Prune throughout the year or perform annual fall prunings to protect your plant from frost.
It’s best to remove weak branches as soon as they’re found to contribute to year-round jalapeno health. However, it’s a good idea to prune as soon as the plant enters winter dormancy. This will maximize your plant’s strength against winter frost.
How Long Do Jalapeño Pepper Plants Live in the Tropics?
Jalapenos, like many chili peppers, live for 5–10 years in the tropics. Jalapenos do best in temperatures around 80℉ (27℃), which the tropics can easily provide. If you protect your jalapenos from winter cold or grow them in a greenhouse, they can have the same lifespan that they do in their native habitat.
How Long Do Jalapeño Pepper Plants Live Indoors?
A jalapeno plant that is grown indoors can live to 5–10 years of age. Jalapenos love direct sunlight and suffer when asked to grow in indirect light. So, provide them a place in front of a sunny, south-facing window to ensure a long, healthy lifespan.
How Long Can You Keep a Jalapeño Plant Alive?
Most jalapenos live for 5 years though they can survive as many as 10 years under ideal conditions. Here are some common tips for helping your jalapenos live as long as possible:
- Jalapeno plants only live for 10 years under ideal of conditions.
- Most jalapeno plants grown in the US live for one season because they are allowed to be killed by frost.
- You can help jalapenos survive winter by moving them indoors.
- If possible, grow your jalapenos in a greenhouse to simulate tropical climates.
- Use row covers to protect outdoor jalapenos from frost and cold.
- Water jalapenos during winter to keep soil moist and insulated against cold.
- Insulate the roots of your jalapeno with mulch to protect them from frost.
If you follow these tips, your jalapenos will have the best possible chance of surviving winter. By spring, your jalapeno will begin growing new leaves in preparation for flowering and producing more delicious peppers.