Sudden Wilt in 5-1-1, Why!?!

Phildeez(9b)May 30, 2011

I have a lot of peppers in containers using 5-1-1 with Dolomite Lime. My Thai Ornamental literally went limp in one day without drying out or, as far as I know, staying too moist. It had webs on it and I thought it was spider mites, but there is no damage, and the webs were tiny spiders. None of my other peppers are wilted, either.

This happened to a few new peppers a few weeks ago but it was concluded to be Round-Up drift. This damage looks different and the plant had been in its pot happily and flourishing in fact for almost two months! The leaves are still dark green but they are extremely wilted and soft, as if it were drought-stressed to one inch of its life. No other plants, even new ones, are exhibiting this wilting.

The second picture is less than 48 hours after the first, and I did not water in that time. It should be noted there was a bit of rain and temperatures down to 50 degrees or slightly under at night. This plant has been dealing with temperatures of that nature for a long time, however.

happy pepper, taken 3 days ago

I noticed yesterday morning before it got much sun, medium was moist so I left it and it did not bounce back yet.

Thank you for any help. At this point I have lightly soap sprayed when I thought they were spider mites (in the evening), and this morning I flushed the plant out of desperation, maybe it was a bad idea but I am convinced this plant would have died with one more day on the same course. I think it probably will die from the looks of it. I am not so worried about saving the plant as knowing what caused this so I can avoid it with my other peppers.

Thanks a lot


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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey, Phil, sorry about the plant!
My plants are wilting from the night-time cold and the day-time wind. I keep them on the move.

Did you spray with Neem oil? I once sprayed a Thai Chile with soap and water,
but I forgot to rinse the leaves before it went back into the sun. Dead plant.


    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 1:14PM
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That's a good thought, Josh. I did rinse it before it got any sun, and I only sprayed the once. It has been very windy, however, and I did not think that could effect an established plant so drastically! Ill go move my plants down out of the wind now. It has not been as cold here but I suppose with wind it was cold enough.

I still find it strange that this is the only one showing any wilting. Could it be fungal root something or other from constant moisture and heat? The pot is small and black and heats up rapidly.


    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 1:42PM
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Did you water before this happened? There's one thing I've noticed with the 5-1-1 mix, and that is the water repulsion problem. If you let the mix go dry a bit too much, it regains its repelling properties. Then, when you water, the top gets wet, things look great, but about an inch below, the mix is bone dry. I've been having troubles with my indoor plants doing this, so I have to approach watering differently. I don't know if this is what happened, but it's a thought. I have 4 jalapenos in the 5-1-1 mix, so I hope I don't have issues with them. I plan to put plugs in the drain holes, fill them with water, let it soak in a bit, then pull the plugs and let them drain.


    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 1:46PM
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i had some of clay pots for some jalpenos and they would never warm up. roots were always cold.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 1:48PM
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Joe, I had been watering very sparingly because we have had some rain and low temperatures. I think you nailed it, though. The rain has only been wetting the top layer, and when I watered I only watered a little bit each time because of the cooler temperatures. The pot is small and I did not want to dig around too much to feel for moisture, so I think down past a couple inches may have been completely dry. Also, the pot is dark grey so it actually warms up very quickly, it may have been very warm in the roots even on these cold days.

I flushed the crap out of it with a hose and really rinsed the roots and it appears to be perking up! I will only give it morning sun today and keep it out of the cold tonight. Thank you so much for the tip, Joe, because I would not have thought it could be drought stress in this sort of weather.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 2:40PM
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That is where the wooden dowel method comes in.

You can never be to sure, although growing in plastic you could lift the pot and feel its weight.

One does not have to be worried about over watering in this mix unless of, course it was made wrong. With all this sunlight, even through the clouds, they will just drink and drink, especially peppers and tomatoes. They are mean machines even in cloudy cooler weather.

Good luck Phil:-)


    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 3:36PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

You said:
"It had webs on it and I thought it was spider mites, but there is no damage, and the webs were tiny spiders."

I would still be concerned about spider mites. They look like tiny spiders to me, and they do make webs. The damage they do is exactly what you described -- the plant collapses. What kind of soap did you spray them with? If it was insecticidal soap, you need to do that more than once. Spider mites are very difficult to eradicate. Homemade soap solutions can do more harm to the plant than the bugs.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 4:26PM
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I have Spider mites all over my garden, sadly. These webs were spun by a few baby spiders, tiny but still much larger than a mite. The plant has recovered very well after flushing, I just hope it doesn't drop its fruit or blossoms.

As for the mites I am spraying occasionally and praying for beneficial mites to show up, but they are yet to attack the Thai Ornamental.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 6:12PM
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