bell peppers not growing

irishpat(Idaho Z6)June 23, 2007

All my peppers are not growing at all. They are in full sunshine but seem stunted. They are in amended soil, but maybe not enough richness for them? Do they require more than tomatoes cuz my tomatoes are doing great. I once heard that peppers like epsom salts (mag sulfate). Has anyone any advice on how I can jumpstart their growth? It's pretty hot here in Idaho and the garden literally goes from cool to raging hot in a week's time....desert gardening. The peppers have been in the ground since the 10th of May and they are still exactly the same size. HELP!!!

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anney(Georgia 8)

Peppers really need very warm days and nights. I planted mine outside in March and am only now getting blossoms. They gradually grew up to about two feet, where they are now. Peppers just take longer. They need warmer weather than tomatoes to thrive. They don't need much nitrogen or they won't produce fruit, so I'd not fertilize them anymore.

Before adding anything to the soil, why don't you get a soil test done? And give those babies some more time. They'll probably surprise you in the next couple of weeks.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2007 at 7:08PM
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korney19(z6a Buffalo, NY)

Did they experience any cold nights under 50 degrees?

    Bookmark   June 23, 2007 at 7:32PM
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lelia(Northern Cal)

My peppers are stuck in a time warp too. My Red Cheese peppers, especially, are pathetic. I planted the seed the same day I planted my winter squash seeds, and the Red Cheeses are 1" tall while the squashes are at least 10 feet long, enormously bushy and bearing fruit. It's been very cool here, though. But still, the NOIVE!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2007 at 8:35PM
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In my opinion i think they will take off when the temps. rise .I would wait a couple of weeks to see if they take off. bill w.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2007 at 7:41AM
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one other possibility is over watering leading to root rot. My peppers were also very slow growing until the warmer temps arrived for good, but if the plant is continually dealing with loss of roots due to rot (or anything else) then it will put it's energy into regrowing roots and no top growth until it can do so.

Just a thought.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2007 at 9:52AM
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crabjoe(z7 MD)

My peppers I sowed from seed are stunted too!

I bought pepper plants and they were planted Mother's day weekend. They're all around feet tall and doing well. Not much fruit, but they are now producing.

At the time, I planted the seedlings I had bought, I sowed seeds and they came up about 2 weeks later. Since then, they've had stunted growth. They're all about 3 or 4 inches tall and don't seem to want to get any bigger.

I doubt temp is a problem being we're in the upper 80's to low 90's most days for most of this month and night temps are in usually in the 70's. A few days here and there int he 60's but mostly in the 70's.

BTW, everything else I planted int he garden (seeds or seedlings) are kicking butt! Well, except for some green bean plants I have. They seem to be stunted too.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2007 at 2:24PM
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This is my third (and probably last) year of growing bell peppers. The first year I wasn't very good at gardening and they flopped. When a frost was forcasted, I went out and picked the two or three golf-ball sized green fruit and composted the plants. Last year I got about twice that many, though I planted them where they had to compete heavily with established, vigorous plants (chives and daisies).

This year I've planted them in a new area, where they only compete with onions (which I think I'll be harvesting in a few weeks) - or maybe a few days). One already has a fruit forming, but they haven't grown much and I don't expect much from them. If they don't perform really well, then I won't grow them again.

Here's a pic, where you can see the one with the fruit:

    Bookmark   June 24, 2007 at 2:57PM
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Just be patient and have faith. They know when conditions are right. Don't go amending your soil unless you've had a soil test. You can do more harm than good.

Pepper's optimum day temperature is 73F to 79F degrees and night temperatures of at least 70F. For initial fruit setting use 72F degrees day and 65Â66F degrees during the night.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2007 at 11:14PM
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Pepper grow very slow.

Bell pepper do not work out up North.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 12:14AM
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lelia(Northern Cal)

This is only my second year here just north of San Fran (used to live in So. Cal) and as we approach July the night time temps are STILL in the 40's!!!! It's so frustrating. Last year's peppers were fine, but this year I wonder if I'll get any at all.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2007 at 8:44AM
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I read somewhere that bell peppers are just hard to grow. Mine finally started growing some but I have no fruit. On the other hand I planted some sorrano(spelling?) at the same time and they are coming in pretty steady. I pulled one last night and the little thing lit me up! I'm going to try banana peppers next year for a mild pepper.


    Bookmark   June 26, 2007 at 12:08PM
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I'm in your area and transplanted my peppers (from seed, bell mix & hot mix) around May 17. They were about 4 inches tall at the time and have grown to nearly 12 inches -- they still look tiny next to the tomatoes! I figure each chilly night we have (down to 35 last night at my place!) slows them down by several days. I'm hoping temps will rise sufficiently in July - September to give us a crop...

    Bookmark   June 26, 2007 at 1:52PM
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I have a feeling that peppers and eggplants are fussy about the soil, in addition to the temperature that many of the previous posts had mentioned. I am in Maryland and I have had two gardens about the same temp weatherwise. But the one that is nearer to the salty water did much better for both peppers and eggplants. My reasoning is soil closer to salty water are sweeter (therefore, lime amendment soil might help, but this needs to be done early in spring one month before planting). By the way, I water and mulch my peppers, but not eggplants (why? folklore from an old farmer friends, but it seems to work for me).

    Bookmark   June 26, 2007 at 3:04PM
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The soil for my first two years of bell peppers was alkaline (7.4 pH). The soil for this year's crop is acidic (5.5 with a buffer index of 6.4). These were tests done by the agricultural extension. I haven't had any pest problems in either site and both get 6-8 hours of sunlight. Both sites have shown the same general growth pattern, which is just really, really slow growth.

Three years ago I grew a hungarian banana pepper in a container under similar conditions and it did great. I think I'll go back to those next year. I'd never heard that bell peppers did badly in the North. Do you know why they don't do well? Too long of days, bad weather pattern, what?

    Bookmark   June 26, 2007 at 3:17PM
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diggity_ma(5 MA)

A few years ago I hit upon the idea of planting them with a mulch of stones. We had a small pile of stones left over from a masonry project - field stones, each roughly 2-5 pounds and flat-ish. Basically, book shaped. I transplant the peppers as usual after the weather has warmed up - no fertilizer in the planting holes. Then top dress with a balanced organic fertilizer and mulch with about 2" of chopped straw. The stones are then placed on top of the straw, around the plants. Basically, my 4'x12' pepper bed looks almost like a 4'x12' stone patio with peppers growing out of it! It looks great, and the plants seem to grow well. I've had very good yields over the past few years. At the end of the season I just take them off the bed and pile them up again until next year - the ultimate in recyclable mulch.

Most plants (including peppers) seem to like growing in close proximity to rocks. I think the rocks help to retain heat after the sun goes down. They also help to moderate changes in soil moisture.

I've heard the spiel that peppers are a desert plant, so you have to treat them like a cactus - sandy soil, no fertilizer, no irrigation, no mulch. I tried that a few times and the result was - no peppers either. I think like any other garden vegetable, they appreciate moderate fertility, moderate moisture, and a mulch. The layer of straw I put underneath the rocks helps conserve moisture and also feeds the soil as it breaks down.


    Bookmark   June 26, 2007 at 4:03PM
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Gamebird, I just saw your garden picture in a few post above. My immediate thought was that this pepper plant, as with all other fruit bearing veggies, may need more sun and open air. Just my two cents.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2007 at 6:49PM
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ardnek710(z6 stlouis)

peppers are just really slow growing and that is why it is important to start from seed early, early, early.

They don't need lots of fertilizer or water or pampering, but I wouldn't say you should treat them like a cactus. Some varieties are considered "desert" plants but we are talking about high plain deserts up on mountain tops around the equator, not something like death valley...:)

I start my seeds middle of March, I transplant out when lows are no longer getting below 50 degrees. Peppers really dont' like cold roots if temps are dipping below 50 degrees at night they will be stunted even more than usual.
The first year I didn't pay attention to this rule, my plants never got above 1 foot tall and hardly produced. It takes along time and alot of warm to get a pepper that has been cold to start growing again.
We have had near perfect summertime weather here in ST.Louis and the above mentioned chile plants are still pretty small but they are starting to produce and they will be pretty large by the end of the year.

By the way, you really cannot compare the growth rates of something like a squash, melon, or tomato to the growth rates of peppers.


    Bookmark   June 26, 2007 at 8:34PM
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staggart(z4 S.E. ID)

irishpat ---

I'm in Idaho Falls.

We are having days in the 80s and 90s --- but nights get down into the high 30s through low 50s.

I've found the key to peppers is maximizing the heat -- both day and night. I place them in red plastic, start with hot caps and plant near a cinderblock wall.

Even with our cool nights, I have peppers setting now.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2007 at 9:06PM
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Wait a minute! It looks like some of your pepper plants are growing money!! Send me seeds! :D

I was out looking at my peppers today and noticed the "baby" pepper had fallen off. It was about the size of a marble. That sucks. The plants have all the light and air they're going to get in my garden. They get as much sun as everything else, which is 6-8 hours. If that's not enough, then they go on my list of "things I can't grow here", along with artichokes, pineapples, lemons and so on.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2007 at 1:35AM
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irishpat(Idaho Z6)

I got so many replies to my query about my peppers, and I just have to say, you guys are a really fun group!!! What nice people. I'm still waiting for my peppers to grow twenty dollar bills like ardnek710 but, so far, nothing!! :)

Seriously though, I appreciate the good advice you all gave. Nice photos tho, ardnek. Thanks everyone. You made my day!!

    Bookmark   June 28, 2007 at 10:05PM
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Thanks to all of you for your advice on peppers not growing. I planted my peppers around the first of June and it looks to me like they haven't grown at all. I was beginning to get really worried but I'm feeling better now. I think it's been too cool at night. We've just hit some 100 degree days and warmer nights so I'm hoping to see some action now.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2007 at 7:30PM
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capricornboar(USDA 9/Sunset 7)

My bells are tall, but no peppers being produced. I was going to cut 'em out today, but looked here first to see if there might be a chance to salvage them. Thanks to all of you folks, I will give them another chance as there is still plenty of time to produce fruit here in Northern California. But now, I have another question. I grow in EBs, and love 'em, but have learned that the black plastic they recommend as a mulch heats the soil up to a point where it almost feels baked when I reach into it. I lost a Roma, I think, due to that. That's when I learned how hot the soil was. Does anyone here have any experience with the red plastic mulches, or know anything about that?

    Bookmark   July 20, 2007 at 12:15PM
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I agree that they are just slow growing. I live in Tucson where it has been in the 100's since April and nights are in the 80's-90's. I started them from seed back in March and they took nearly 2 months just to sprout. Now they are starting to take off. My tallest ones are barely 5" but they are growing.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2007 at 5:45PM
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I normally have very productive pepper plants. This has been such a crazy year with a late freeze and some snow, then near record deluges of rains and flooding that I got a late start and my peppers are a also. Some have just now started blooming. They have had a battle, almost drowned out, started shedding some leaves and now grass is growing up around them and trying to choke them out. I have some work to do when I feel like doing it.

In normal years with good well amended, well drained soil my bells and sweet banana peppers are a little slow getting started and like the warm weather. Once they get their roots well established and it warms up they and produce until frost kills them. If you do not need the space for something else and can give them some time, they may come thru for you after all.
Bill P.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2007 at 7:06PM
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suzannesks(z 7 WA.)

Last year I put down red plastic for my green peppers & Bananna Peppers and also started out with hot caps for nights and cool days.I ended up with beautiful big peppers.....I also ran into an old farmer who told me of his secret to good peppers with taste & growth.He had been tenting his peppers every year. 40 years he tented his peppers but claimed his secret was when he was planting them, after he dug his hole he would put at the base 6 match heads from the wooden stick matches.Then covered them with 2 inches of soil and planted his pepper plant. Suzanne

    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 6:38PM
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Mine are not growing either they seem to be staying the same while my squash is growing but the bell peppers are just staying small.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 6:51PM
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I live in Southeast Texas - we have plenty of heat here. I'm a first time gardener, and I planted one bed with tomatoes, bell and jalapeno pepper and squash. We got a couple of torrential rains in mid April, which caused some problems with my garden, so I fertilized and everything bounced back except the peppers. Even the two big boy tomatoes that had no fruit now have 2-4 tomatoes on each plant. However, my peppers are about 4 inches high and have been in the ground about 3 months. It took them a long time, but the leaves are finally dark green again (they had been light green and curling up, so I treated them with epsom salt). Now my jalapenos are getting dark stems so I'm going to treat them with a fungicide. The bell pepper stems aren't black. The jalapenos have blossoms, but how can a 4" plant support fruit? I'm not sure what to do. I read all the posts but it seems that most people are from different areas of the country and feel they need more heat. We have no shortage of that here! If anyone has any suggestions, I would love to hear them! Thank you!!

1 Like    Bookmark   June 2, 2009 at 4:02PM
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The best way to grow anything is to check soil and water ph. Then check N-P-K soil values. Most likely your water is alkaline even zephirhill water is alkaline. I started Dolomite and Plant Growth soil acidifying granulated and thereafter I used bone meal 12-0-0 for the first week, following week 2-10-10. What also works even better is Miracle Grow tomato fertilizers 24-18-16.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2010 at 11:06AM
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