A few questions about potting Bell Peppers...

bleudaysies(9)August 19, 2010

Okay, I have just a few questions... and before hand I'll just admit that i haven't researched raising these pepper plants as well as i think i should have... ok here goes...

First i have a few dozen Bell Pepper seedlings, they are all about an inch or two high so far and i have them divided up into 5" pots with about 5-10 per pot, additionally i have 12 much larger plants that have about 6-8 sets of leaves and are about 8-10" high, I have them in long pots with 6 plants in each pot. Okay that's what i have and i know i need to upgrade them right away. But i'm not sure which type of pots i can get away with...

I need them to be in pots on my front porch and obviously i can't keep all of the babies, but how do i know which ones to keep and which to give away?? What type of soil should i get?? what type of pots?? Can i get away with potting multiple plants per pot and still have them produce fruit? I definitely don't have a lot of money to spend so i'm looking for the most economical solution! plus they are on the front porch so something kind of nice looking would be best.... i read another post about using plastic black pots and painting them, i think that may be my best bet, it'd be kind of inexpensive, plus nice looking and help with my south florida heat...

Okay i'm sorry i typed sooo much but any help would be great!!!

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I have for many years grown peppers in the cheap, plastic, self-watering window boxes sold in box stores using Tapla's potting mix (do a search for directions). I plant 5 peppers in each window box and they thrive on being crowded growing to about 4'. To provide needed support I insert green bamboo stakes along one long edge of the box and then weave additional bamboo stakes horizontally through the upright ones to secure the plants to. A very productive, attractive solution for those with limited growing space.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2010 at 12:09PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Painting containers a light color is a good solution.

I stick with one plant per pot for the best health and production.

I, too, use Tapla's container principles to make my mixes;
which, is to say, bark-based.


    Bookmark   August 20, 2010 at 12:22PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

In reference to another thread about problems with peppers: I hardly ever take the opportunity to say "I told you so", but the combined experiences of multiple growers should be a pretty good indicator that bark based mixes like the 5:1:1 mix and what Nan is using, and the grittier mixes like Josh and I have had excellent results in, are indeed excellent choices for peppers. They really appreciate the superior drainage.


    Bookmark   August 20, 2010 at 3:13PM
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imstillatwork(8-9 Oregon Coast / Ca Border)

I use the 511 for my greenhouse peppers, but I left out the moss this time just for the peppers and they love it.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2010 at 2:02PM
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oregonwoodsmoke(5 OR Sunset 1A)

For cheap planters for peppers, you can often get white plastic 5 gallon food grade buckets for free, or maybe a dollar, from bakeries and delis.

The big chain stores just throw theirs away and refuse to save them, but smaller grocery stores with an in-store deli or bakery will save them for you, if you ask.

Donut shops should have a lot of them because prepared fillings come in them.

Drill some holes for drainage, and you can spray paint the outside to match your house, but I don't think they look all that bad with nice plants in them.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 12:47PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

FWIW - translucent (lets some of the light through) white containers can promote root temperatures even higher than black containers, so it's important that white containers are opaque (let no light through). Additionally, translucent containers usually promote algae growth where soil contacts container walls. Algae competes with your plants for O2 and nutrients. Opaque is important.


    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 1:41PM
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I'm curious - does translucency matter if temps are lower, for example, inside? It sounds like algae could still be a problem.

I'm particularly curious about the roots relationship to the darkness. Do they need darkness? I've heard they do, but in semi hydro or hydro the roots are sometimes completely exposed.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 7:53PM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

I've had algae form on clear containers inside.


    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 9:10PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I think first you need to be clear you're talking about the finest roots, because the fat, transport roots function quite well, and normally, in light - mainly because they make their own darkness with their bark-like epidermis. My sense is that, by and large, fine roots can function normally in light if you can keep them moist and within a favorable temperature range, but judging by the extremely wide range of seed reactions to various kinds of light, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the reaction varies at least somewhat by species. Again, this is just a sense & I can't offer anything I'd call concrete w/o going exploring in a bunch of texts; but, I distinctly remembered reading somewhere in 'Plant Propagation - Principles and Practices' by Hartmann/Kester, that one of the 4 functions of a rooting medium was to provide an opaque environment for the end of the cutting, presumably to facilitate root initiation. I chased that down, and did find it, but perusal of the rest of the chapter yielded no elaboration, so I don't know if initiation is linked to the rest of the physiological responses. What that means to your question, if anything, is up to you to decide, but I would guess it leaves you more puzzled.

We can be pretty sure that most or perhaps all plants don't NEED their roots in total darkness to grow well, which makes the real question multiple variations of 'is photo-exposure (to roots), or can it be, a limiting factor?'

Algae would still potentially be a problem in a translucent container, as it can grow at low temperatures and would still be competing for O2 and nutrients - not to mention the fact that it probably wouldn't have a favorable impact on drainage/aeration.


    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 9:46PM
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Thanks, Al.

I tried researching this online and only could find places that said, "Roots need to be in the dark," and nothing that explained why. I looked at two texts I have (one of which is the one you cited above); neither discussed light/dark as a factor in ongoing root development and growth.

Wonder if this hasn't been researched much...maybe I'll do a few more searches to see if I can find any scholarly or research articles.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 10:54PM
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I am a bit confused on what is opaque and what is translucent enough to have to worry about. Most of my buckets are going to be Walmart Frosting buckets. I included a picture (not mine) of what they look like. By looking inside, you can see the labels that are on the outside. Would these encourage algae growth? If so, would painting them help solve this in a SWC (Global Buckets) setup?

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 9:43AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Wayne, those are opaque.

An example of translucent would be a tupperware container.


    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 10:13AM
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Many of my orchids are growing very well in clear, plastic containers. They have grown this way for years happily co-mingling with alge and producing green, photosynthesizing roots.

I have used Chinese plastic containers, clear plastic salad containers, etc. to start seedlings and to grow small dirt plants until large enough to repot. I also grow in black plastic pots, dark green pots in full south sun without any problems. This summer has been unusually hot and dry but I haven't noticed any growth problems. Annuals and vegetables producing very well and my orchids are finishing their new growths for blooms this winter.


    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 12:39PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

We all know that many don't always do what's best - reasons vary.

"... simply making containers out of white plastic is not the answer. For example, containers of various diameters made from thin-walled white PVC plastic air-duct pipe were first used in a small pilot study in anticipation of a much larger study. The white PVC containers looked good, and early in the growing season, plant growth was good. My mid summer the plants became less thrifty in appearance so several were sacrificed to inspect the root systems. The root ball was easily removed from the containers (even though they had no sidewall taper), due to the thick green algae slime around the outside. There were very few roots against the wall of the container. To try to determine if algae was a contributing factor to plant growth, a number of the containers were covered with aluminum foil, yet others were given a heavy coat of white latex paint on the outside. The plants in the containers with aluminum foil began to recover first, followed by those containers with the heavy white latex paint. After 3 weeks. several of the plants from the containers covered with aluminum foil were removed for inspection. No more algae slime and many more white root tips were noticed against the inner container wall. Algae were successfully competing for oxygen, nutrients, and space with roots of the crop plants." Carl Whitcomb, PhD from Plant Production in Containers II


    Bookmark   August 31, 2010 at 10:02PM
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Uh, I have seen orchids in clear pots. They sell them at orchid supply houses.

"We all know that many don't always do what's best - reasons vary."

Al, I can't say I understand this either. If you put it right after a particular post than is seems like a veiled put down.

What are you referring to? The orchids in the clear pots? Small seedlings in clear containers til repotting? Or the fact that she felt her plants did fine in black plastic in the summer? Which particularly practice was not the 'best' way to do it?

You can't make comments like that without upsetting people and then declare innocently that they are loony (my term) for taking offense and that you weren't even referring to them.

I think specific, forthright disagreement so that there is no confusion would end some of these upsets that are always popping up on some of these threads.

Here is a link that might be useful: Clear plastic orchid pots

    Bookmark   September 4, 2010 at 11:22PM
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wayner 123,

Taking into account the article that Tapla posted your frosting containers don't really look all that opaque.
According to the article plants down the line may suffer from all the reasons Al cited above.

Maybe you should do a bucket in a bucket (double walled) rather than the one wall global bucket design. Or at least do one bucket in a bucket to compare to the single wall design. Or paint them as you mentioned.

Greenhouses in some southern states have been growing in nothing but pine bark for years and they do fantastic. So a predominately pine bark mix like 5- 1- 1 should be great for green peppers.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2010 at 11:42PM
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redshirtcat(6a MO StL)

I'm not sure if you are still following this Al but I have started some peppers for the season and wonder what the best way to get them into the gritty mix or the 511 would be? Sadly I've started them in peaty nonsense already .. Can these be gently bare rooted? Should I just put them straight in? How should I start seeds in general that are going to make their way into gritty mixes? And would you suggest the bark or the more gritty 111 mix for peppers? Thanks!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 2:37AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I like the gritty mix for peppers because they are perennial & often in the same soil for several years, but if I was growing them as an annual, I'd go for the 5:1:1 mix & use a wick.

I'm going to assume that by 'started', you mean you have seedlings. If so, simply bare-root them, snip all the lower leaves off, and plant them so the lowest leaves remaining are just above the soil. I treat tomatoes the same way - cut off lower leaves & plant them very deep. New roots will appear up & down the extra length of stem you buried & you will get a much stronger root system. The same holds true for either soil.


    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 9:41AM
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I think the beauty of using the gritty mediums is that you can plant your starts in larger pots, thus giving them more root room... without worry of over saturation of the soil.

In other words, you don't have to go through the process of repeated re-pottings in increments.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 11:01AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

my peppers are started in the Gritty Mix, then moved into 5-1-1, and finally
planted in the garden. When I overwinter them, I bare-root the plant and put
them back into a Gritty Mix for the winter. It's a tried and true method.

Follow the link to see this year's grow:

Greenman's Peppers 2011 (pics)


    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 11:13AM
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redshirtcat(6a MO StL)

Ahh, thanks so much everyone! The seedlings always seem so fragile that I've never tried to bare root them. I will wait until they have 5-7 true leaves before trying I think...

I have space under grow lights so I could grow the peppers as indoor/outdoor perennials... I just start one of these tiny tiny flat seeds in the gritty mix and then water from below so that it doesn't move around too much? If I start them in the gritty mix in little cell flats then will the medium all fall out of the root structure when I move them to larger pots? I understand I can start them in larger pots to begin with but I prefer to try to start more than I have room for and assume I will lose some or that some won't germinate. I guess you've just said to bare root them out of peat so even if it does fall out then it's just the same thing hmm...

That thread looks great Josh I will read it carefully - is there a reason you switch from one to the other and then back again and don't just stick with the gritty?

hmm hmm this new mix makes everything exciting aha

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 11:38AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

The Gritty Mix holds less moisture, which I find produces healthier seedlings (no damping off).
As the seedlings grow larger, I put them into the 5-1-1 around the time that I begin moving
them outdoors to harden them off (acclimate them to wind/increasing sunlight). The 5-1-1
holds more moisture, and when the plants spend time outdoors the medium dries faster; so
that extra bit of moisture retention helps me a lot.

Both mixes are excellent because they don't compact around the roots, and this makes re-potting
quite easy - much less root trauma.

If I were to keep a pepper in a container the entire season, I'd stick with the Gritty Mix.

I switch back to the Gritty Mix for overwintering because the mix dries much faster, flushes
readily, and allows me to control moisture in the root-zone much better. Peppers do not
like saturated soils over the winter...that's for sure ;-)


    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 11:54AM
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Peppers aren't the only plants with an aversion to saturated soils over the winter! :-)

I've never grown a pepper plant as a perennial, though I may just give it a try this season... but I can tell you that every plant I have in the Gritty Mix does exceedingly well over winter due to the fact that I'm in control of moisture and nutrition, and I can easily flush any accumulated salts from within the containers. In fact, I do so on a regular basis... just to be sure.

Josh grows beautiful plants, pepper and otherwise... his is a good act to follow! :-)

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 11:07AM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

I've never grown one over the winter either, but plan on trying this season. I had an aswome pepper last summer , but it was in the junk from the nursery , didn't get watered.. and is gone. :-( lol.. My son, overlooked a few plants last season.

I did save a few seeds.. so I'll start them soon.

It was more ornamental than anything.. but edible. Josh warned me about the heat. ;-)

Josh is a great act to follow and you can't go wrong with his help!

He's the reason I bought the pepper.. so guess that makes him a little bit of a trouble maker too. ;-) he he..

Here's what it looked like.
Will make a beautiful house plant come winter. :-)


    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 12:32PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Thanks a bunch, Jodi and JoJo!

I'm glad that you're sticking with the peppers.
All peppers are perennial, and there's no reason to toss a good plant at the end of the season.
Infact, my peppers usually produce more numerous, better tasting pods in the second year.


    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 6:45PM
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