Gardening is a great way to get in touch with nature and grow some tasty produce, but it’s not without its own challenges. Peppers are known to grow slowly because of a variety of reasons, but why are yours growing so much slower than expected?
Peppers can grow slowly due to too much or too little sunlight, extreme temperatures, under or overwatering, low soil nutrient levels, pests, and a host of detrimental plant diseases. To speed up their growth, try Epsom salt to boost the soil’s magnesium levels, or use compost and/or fertilizer.
This article will detail the causes of slow pepper plant growth and provide some tips to prevent these issues from happening to your plants.
Slow-Growing Species of Pepper Plant
While in many cases slow growth is a result of improper care, some species of peppers just grow more slowly compared to their other pepper plant relatives.
Sweeter peppers, like Banana peppers and Bell peppers, will bear fruit within 60 to 90 days. In contrast, hot peppers like Jalapeños and other spicy peppers can take up to 150 days to produce fruit. While there are other relevant factors in play that affect pepper growth, the pepper plant species should always be taken into account before blaming other variables for slow growth.
Plants need sunlight to produce the nutrients they need to survive. In combination with nutrients, soil, and water, sunlight is crucial in any plant’s growth. When a pepper plant doesn’t get enough sun, it can hinder the plant’s development, and without sunlight, the pepper plant cannot produce fruit.
Think about any obstacles that may block sunlight from the plant at various parts of the day. Pepper plants need at least six to eight hours of sunlight every day to continue growing and producing fruit at a normal rate.
Shade from trees or other plants can be one reason why your plant isn’t receiving the proper amount of sunlight. If you grow pepper plants indoors and there aren’t many windows to let in the sun, your plants will grow very slowly, if at all.
Pepper plants typically do better in warm climates, with the ideal temperatures hovering between 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 29 degrees Celsius). Pepper plants are tropical and grow best under tropical-like conditions. At night, temperatures at around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius) are acceptable.
You also need a high level of humidity to help your pepper plants grow well.
When you attempt to grow pepper plants during the fall or winter, the cold weather may be too much for them, and they will probably die. This is especially likely if you live in a colder climate with snow and frost. Frost developing on pepper plants is deadly.
You should not expose pepper plants to temperatures at or below 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius) as freezing temperatures will kill pepper plants quickly. If the climate does not allow you to grow peppers outside, consider creating the ideal conditions indoors and waiting for the weather to warm up outside before transplanting your plants.
Make sure to harden off your pepper plants when transitioning from an indoor climate to outdoors. Hardening off plants is a term used to describe slowly easing your plant to outdoor living by exposing them to the elements gradually in small amounts of time. With each passing day, leaving them outdoors for a few hours longer, until they are used to being outdoors fulltime.
If you have the space, you could also build a greenhouse in your backyard that would mimic the ideal growing conditions for peppers. Greenhouse gardening is very popular in colder climates, and you could grow other plants in addition to peppers.
Watering is one of the most misunderstood parts of gardening and if not done right can lead to the plant’s death.
Overwatering causes a plant to develop a weak and diseased root system in the soil and prevents the plant from absorbing nutrients. If overwatering continues, air won’t get into the soil, and the plant will suffer from a fatal disease called root rot.
Underwatering causes its fair share of health issues for a pepper plant as well. A chronically underwatered pepper plant will produce smaller and unpleasant tasting fruit. It also won’t be able to absorb nutrients it needs to develop properly and is more susceptible to pests and diseases like blossom-end rot.
What is the Correct Amount of Water for Pepper Plants?
Before watering your pepper plant, feel the soil to determine if your plant needs watering. The soil shouldn’t feel soaked from the last time you watered it. If it is damp, don’t add more water. Instead, put the plant under the sun so it can dry out.
If the soil gets too dry and even takes on a desert, cracked-like appearance, that’s a sign you need to water your pepper plant more frequently, or you might need to move it under the shade once in a while.
Soil Nutrient Levels
If you notice symptoms like yellowing, withering, or shrunken foliage on your pepper plant, low soil nutrients are probably to blame. Pepper plants need a variety of nutrients and minerals to develop and bear fruit properly, including:
Nitrogen deficiency can cause the plants to blossom and bear fruit early before the plant is ready, which will result in smaller fruit that doesn’t taste good. Plus, when a vegetable plant like peppers flowers early, it stunts the plant’s total growth.
To prevent this, fertilize the seed holes before planting pepper seeds. Compost and manure-based fertilizers work great to provide nitrogen for developing plants. When fertilizing, whether with nitrogen or other compounds, try not to overfertilize the soil, as it can cause burning-like effects to the plant and stunt its growth.
Small pests can destroy entire crops if left unchecked. Aphids are particularly bad offenders, sucking out the valuable lifeblood of your pepper plants, removing the water and the nutrients your plants need for continued healthy development.
Other pests like worms and caterpillars eat the leaves and foliage of your plant, destroying their ability to absorb and process sunlight into nutrients. Severe infestations of any pest can slow down your plants growth, or worse, kill your plants.
Diseases can slow pepper plant growth and eventually kill the plant. Every disease causes unique symptoms to watch out for in your plants, including:
- Bacterial leaf spot: Thiscauses yellow spots to appear on your plant’s leaves, which can grow and turn brown and eventually kill the leaves.
- Southern blight: This is a fungus that causes the pepper plant’s leaves to wilt and the plant to rot from the inside out.
- Blossom-end rot: This is a condition that occurs due to calcium deficiency that affects the ripening peppers on the plant. Immediately harvest ripe peppers to prevent this and consider adding supplements.
Tips for Speeding Up Growth of Your Pepper Plant
Now that you know why your pepper plants are developing slowly, it’s time to learn some vital tips that can boost your plant’s growth and development. These include:
- Make sure your plant receives six to eight hours of sunlight daily
- Keep your pepper plants in the right temperature range: 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 29 degrees Celsius)
- Use the finger test to determine if your plant needs water
- Fertilizing your plants with compost or other organic fertilizer. Try using Epsom salt foliar spray to boost your plant’s magnesium levels.
- Use organic pesticides to get rid of any pests.
Pepper plants have several variables that can stunt their growth or negatively affect the ripening of their fruits. If you’re vigilant and keep an eye out for the signs, you can take the necessary steps to prevent these negative conditions from impacting the growth of your pepper plant.
Here are Some of my Favorite Gardening Products and Tools
Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found it helpful for growing some new plants in your home or garden. Here are some products I like that I hope you’ll also find helpful. These are affiliate links, and I am compensated for referring traffic. But in all honesty, these are the exact product that I use or recommend to everyone.
Soil: For high-quality soil, I really like Fox Farm Ocean Forest. I do all my growing in containers and this soil has worked great for me. I like how they use nutrient-rich contents like earthworm castings, bat guano, and composted crab and fish.
Fertilizer: Currently I am using a seaweed-based organic fertilizer call Neptunes Harvest. This is a great milder fertilizer option if you want to use something organic. If you want a more powerful fertilizer, I recommend Fox Farm Liquid Nutrient Trio, lots of people have had great growing success with this product.
Pruning Shears: Pruning shears are one of the most useful gardening tools to have because it’s important to prune your plants to keep them healthy. The pruning shears I recommend are the Gonicc 8’’ pruning shears. I like them because they are built sturdy and work both on bigger and smaller plants, so you don’t need to have multiple pruning shears.
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