Want to be sure my peppers are doing okay

greendreamhomeMarch 28, 2014

These are bell peppers: large orange ones and small, round red ones. I've had them for at least a month.

A few weeks ago one of the plants got a little flower, and a few of the others have little bud-things, but nothing else has developed along those lines. The plants have gotten taller and their leaves are bigger, but that's all. Is that a normal rate of growth?

I'm wondering if they need more sun. They have afternoon shade that starts mid-morning, because pretty soon the afternoon sun (in Phoenix) will be killer, but if necessary I can move them to a place where they get a longer amount of morning sun (until 11, 12 or even almost 1pm.)

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CaraRose

You have them pretty crowded... once they get growing they're not going to have enough room. Are you feeding them?

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 3:58PM
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cold_weather_is_evil(9)

One could call this an emergency; one which people from milder climates might not notice at first. High summer is coming fast. Give them absolutely full sun all day long until it gets into the mid nineties, and re-pot NOW. Six plants = six pots. Try to shade the pots. They should be around a foot high and stocky by now.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 4:13PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Agree with the above. No way can you have all those plants in 1 pot. No wonder they aren't growing much.

Pot that size might do ok with 1 plant in it but no more. Sun, sun, sun, until it is time to shade them. And feed them. Containers plants require regular feeding.

Blooms - remove them for now. Those are all too young and small to support blooming.

Dave

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 5:14PM
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greendreamhome

I think everyone is underestimating the size of my pot. I can see how six could be too many (that's what the nursery recommended) but the pot is 23" wide and 19" high. Are you saying that's the size for ONE bell pepper plant?

I'm wondering why on earth the nursery said that six peppers would go in that pot.

If I'm going to repot, what's the best kind of soil mix for them? Some of the things I have on hand are screened garden soil, peat moss, perlite, worm poo, bat guano and composted crushed leaves.

Cold Weather Is Evil: You recommended both full sun right now, but then you said "try to shade the pots." Do you mean, shade the pots once it gets into the mid-nineties?

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 6:22PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I'm wondering why on earth the nursery said that six peppers would go in that pot.

Because they either didn't know what they were talking about or just made up an answer. You can't even do 6 plants in a 1/2 whiskey barrel.

A container the size of a 5 gallon bucket is the minimum recommended for pepper plants.

You have a 9-10 gallon pot so you could do 2 plants in it but they will be smaller than normal and will require more feeding and more watering than if just 1 plant was in it.

Peppers will handle low 90s IF you can maintain the soil moisture levels - mulch heavily to keep the roots cool. Once your temps climb above 95 then shade them during the hottest part of the day.

Even here I have to rig shade cloth over my container peppers once it hits the 100s and water them several times a day. With your low humidity you may have to water more.

Dave

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 6:44PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

I don't grow bell peppers, but I have grown anchos and anaheims that get up to four feet tall in containers that size. If the container is really 19 inches high and 23 inches wide, it is close to the size of a half whiskey barrel, and probably holds at least 20 gallons of potting mix or almost 3 cubic feet. Do you know how much mix you used to fill it? I think you could grow three peppers in a 20-gallon container if you fertilize weekly with a complete chemical fertilizer and keep it adequately watered. Peppers don't mind a little crowding, in my opinion. They actually seem to benefit from shading one another.

I agree that you should give them full sun all day until temperatures are steadily over 90. Those plants do look a little small for their age.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 9:15PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

the pot is 23" wide and 19" high. ...(OP)
*************

That is more than 25 gallons of soil volume.

So if we allocate 5 gallons per plant, we can plant 5 peppers in that pot. But because of the head room I would recommend 4 plants.( 1 in center, 3 equally spaced around it).

Of course. we are talking about average C. Annuums.

This post was edited by seysonn on Sat, Mar 29, 14 at 6:19

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 12:35AM
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CaraRose

I grew my bell peppers last year in 1 square foot each... The spread was well over the bounds of the square... I think 15-18", height was not as tall as my eggplants (which were insanely large) but I'm thinking they probably were 18-24".

I think you might be able to do two in a pot that size, three would be tight, four might have the soil volume but I don't think would have the above ground space to not smother at least one. Six is way too much.

How often do you feed them? The nature of containers means you have to feed more often, since nutrients are washed out when you water.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 9:04AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Dry gallon measurements are not the same as "wet".

Container Gardening forum has many discussions about how to compute the capacity of a pot and there are standard conversion charts on pot DRY volume available - both online and from any nursery as they work with pot measurements all the time..

A round 24" diameter x 20" height pot holds 36 dry qts. (36 divided by 4 = 9).

So the 23" pot in question is approx. a 9 gallon container not 20 gallons or 25 gallons. If it was straight sided it could hold a bit more than 9 gallons. But it isn't.

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: Pot Volumes

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 9:54AM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

I have great confidence in your knowledge of all things horticultural, Dave. But this is very confusing to me. I use mostly Smart Pots and half whiskey barrels. The Smart pots are straight sided and whiskey barrels are only slightly tapered, so I know they hold more than a tapered nursery pot. But, when I make potting mix, i measure my ingredients using paint buckets with a known liquid volume. I calculate how much mix I need by using the formula for calculating the volume of a cylinder. A cylinder that is 23 inches wide and 19 inches tall holds about 4 cubic feet or 30 gallons. A 25 gallon Smart Pot is 21 inches wide and 15.5 inches tall and holds about 3 cubic feet of mix by my measurement.

Sorry for distracting from the OP's question about peppers.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 11:47AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

So the 23" pot in question is approx. a 9 gallon container not 20 gallons or 25 gallons. If it was straight sided it could hold a bit more than 9 gallons. But it isn't.

Dave
@@@@@@@@@@@@@

Lets see.Forget about wet and dry. Lets do a simple geometry, Based on OP's data.

!) One cubic foot = 12 x 12 x 12= 1728 cubic inches.

2)A Cylinder with 20" diameter and 20" height has :
... 10x 10 x 3.14 x 20 = 6280 cu-in volume..
'''' ( BTW: 23" dia by 19" has 7890 cu-in volume = 4.56 cu-ft)

3) 6280 /1728 = 3.63 cu-ft

DRY GALLON CONVERSION:

4) 3.63 x 6.43 (gal per cu-ft) = 23.34 dry gallons.
5) 4.56 x 6.43 = 29 dry gallons. ( this is 23" dia. by 19" height).
Accounting for conical effect: lets say the diamete at the bottom is 20". This will result in 25.7 gallons.

Correct me, where did I make mistake !

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 3:55PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Where did you make a mistake?

When you said Forget about wet and dry.

Dry gallons aren't the same as liquid gallons because you can measure the air content in the dry mix.

You can do all the math you want but 1 gallon liquid = 0.86 dry gallons. Well documented. Look it up. Plus lots of auto conversion calculators available online too.

So a "5 gallon pail" only holds 4.3 gallons of dry material - actually it holds less because a 5 gallon pail doesn't actually hold 5 gallons of liquid either, it is just called that for convenience, so called in-the-trade labeling.

This doesn't even take into the calculation the gross texture of the media used, Imperial gallon labeling vs. US gallon labeling, or the fact that the container is not filled to the top so that an average of 2-3" of the largest part of the top contains nothing but air while most of the soil is contained in the smaller part of the container.

But hey if you want to take on the recognized nursery standard measurements, go for it. Or you can just look it up for yourself. The link I provided above is only one of many available. Linked another from North Carolina Univ. below.

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: NC Ext. - Container Gardening

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 6:55PM
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Slimy_Okra(2b)

I prefer to calculate it rather than rely on pot size estimates that don't take the depth of the pot into account.

A perfectly round 23" pot (cylinder) with height 19" has a volume, in liters, of 3.14 x 29 cm x 29 cm x 48 cm = 126 L or about 30 gallons.
That being said, the pot doesn't look like a cylinder so we can only guess at the volume unless OP provides the bottom diameter. Assuming that it is about half the top diameter (a reasonable assumption), the formula changes to:

3.14 x 0.33 x 48 cm x (29^2 + 14.5^2 + 14.5x29)
= 75 L or about 18 gallons.

The difference between a wet and a dry gallon is too slight to account for the huge discrepancy between what the NCSU website says and what the calculated volume is. I'm going to say the most likely explanation is either 1. The extension goofed up their calculations or 2. they assumed a constant depth rather than account for the fact that wider pots are almost always deeper than narrow pots.

For example, the NCSU calculation for a 4" pot is very close to the mathematical calculated value of about 1/2 quart. But their values for larger pots are way, way off.

Edit: I worked backwards from their 9 gallon calculation for a 24" pot, assuming that the bottom diameter is half the top diameter (a very conservative assumption). I arrived at a pot depth of 9 inches, which is way too shallow for a typical 24" pot. I strongly suspect that someone somewhere goofed up their calculations like the Air Canada Gimli Glider and other websites simply copied this information without doing some fact-checking.

Either way, I wouldn't put more than two plants in this pot.

This post was edited by Slimy_Okra on Sat, Mar 29, 14 at 19:39

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 7:21PM
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greendreamhome

Ohio Fem: The pot-size discussion isn't distracting in any way; it's really important to know! Not that I've been able to come to any conclusion, because you all are still arguing about it! ;)

We moved the pot to an area that will get much more sun, but it won't get full sun all day, because at our house, no place that gets full sun all day is a practical place to put it. So the peppers will have to make do.

I'm going to remove most of the peppers from the pots and turn them into "experimental peppers," because I don't have any way to quickly give them a proper home, and I'm certainly not going to kill them!

Two will remain in the original patio pot. One or two will be moved to an identical pot in the back yard that gets that full sun we are talking about, but CAN'T BE MOVED when the temperature gets hellacious, so we'll see how well they survive. The rest are going into the ground in the back yard rose bed, which isn't my first choice in soil, but I can "enrich" it. The amount of sun/shade should be okay, though. Also, even though I have some protective fencing, I can't promise that they won't get hit by dog pee, because for a little guy, my dog can squirt! This is what I mean by "experimental."

Which brings me to CaraRose's question about how often I'm feeding them. I thought they only needed feeding once they start to grow fruit. I did just mix into the top soil some worm poo + worm eggs, so that the container can grow it's own worm population, but I'm sure that's not what you meant.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 8:13PM
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CaraRose

Since it's a container, the nutrients are basically being washed slowly out with each watering, so you need to fertilize more often. I'd hit them with a good balanced fertilizer every week or two if using liquid, maybe a little more spread out if using some kind of granules/time released stuff.. Nitrogen is needed for foliage growth and phosphorous for root development and flowering/fruiting.

Found a great link that talks about fertilizer and what N,P, and K are each used for by the plant.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fertilizer guide

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 11:02PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

For a different perspective on fertilizing plants in containers, I suggest you read this popular post from the Container Gardening Forum.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fertilizing containerized plants

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 10:24AM
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greendreamhome

For some reason my reply to CaraRose isn't appearing. I asked how the nutrients can be washed away if they have nowhere to go. I can see how the plants use up the nutrients and they need to be replaced, but not how they escape.

Ohiofem: Is the "different perspective" in the article something that contradicts what CaraRose says?

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 12:49PM
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Slimy_Okra(2b)

They escape through the drainage holes.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 1:01PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

I asked how the nutrients can be washed away if they have nowhere to go ..
*****************************

Does your pot has drainage holes?
That is how fertilizer can go out every time you water.
That is why there are to common methods of container fertilizing:

1) mixing slow release granular to the soil before planting OR top dressing:

2) watering with very diluted liquid fertilizer (adding 1/3 recommended strength to watering can, every other time OR SO)

BTW: you did not tell us how wide in diameter your pot is at the bottom ?!?!?

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 1:03PM
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CaraRose

It's flushed out with the water as it drains.

If you don't have drainage in the pot, I don't know if nutrient loss is as big of an issue. Poor drainage can cause issues in itself, though I'm not sure if it would cause too much trouble in your climate.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 1:08PM
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greendreamhome

Seysonn and CaraRose -- The pot pictured above has a bottom that is approximately 2" smaller in diameter than the top, so it's 23" at the top and 21" at the bottom. (This pot will have just two pepper plants as soon as I finish digging a place for their three friends in the ground.) This pot has a drainage hole.

The pot the now houses one of the pepper plants is nearly cylindrical. I estimate there's only a half-inch difference between the top and the bottom, so the top is 23" wide and the bottom is 22.5" wide. This pot does not have a drainage hole.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 2:03PM
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Slimy_Okra(2b)

OK then, your first pot has a capacity of 28 gallons. Good for two healthy plants.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 2:07PM
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woohooman

Better lift that pot up and drill a bunch of holes in it. Most veggies do not like"wet" feet, especially peppers. You could also drill them at the very bottom on the sides.

Kevin

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 4:36PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

The pot pictured above has a bottom that is approximately 2" smaller in diameter than the top, so it's 23" at the top and 21" at the bottom

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

So it has over 23 DRY GALLONS of volume.

I rest my case with digdirt (Dave) . He wrote :
++++++++++
" ...You have a 9-10 gallon pot so you could do 2 plants in it but they will be smaller than normal and will require more feeding and more watering than if just 1 plant was in it. .."
++++++++++

Now how many peppers you want to plant int it, it is your choice.

This post was edited by seysonn on Mon, Mar 31, 14 at 5:12

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 4:57AM
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