Peppers are wilting - what is wrong?

lakemayor(5)June 7, 2010

We have several varieties of bell pepper and hot pepper that we planted a couple of weeks ago. My husband put a mixture of bone meal, blood meal and wood ash in each of the holes before planting. Do you think that is the problem. They are wilting and even loosing their leaves. We have lost several. Maybe they don't like that mixture of fertizer. Any thoughts? The weather has been in the 70's to 80's with lots of sun.

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Assuming they have enough water then maybe the blood meal wasn't mixed in enough and the roots got burned.

Were they hardened off before transplanting?

    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 7:14PM
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spiced_ham(z5 OH)

I have lost a few here and there about a week after planting. The top wilts but the lower leaves are still ok for a while. They had stem borer worms.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 8:38PM
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OMG why did you put that in the hole next to the roots.

Next time just put them into a nice clean hole and fill with soil. Stop poisoning your plants with chemicals.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 8:50PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Over-watering also causes pepper plants to wilt and drop their leaves. Had a lot of rain? Are you allowing the soil to dry out between watering as peppers prefer?

And what are your soil temps? Cold wet soil will really stress them into leaf drop. I'm surprised your soil in zone 4 would be warm enough for peppers yet or are they in containers?


    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 8:53PM
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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

OMG! Why do you have to reply as if she committed murder?!?!?
I think a little less severe reply as gjcore's would be more appropriate.
People make mistakes and are often misguided. That is the function of this board, not to condemn!
JMHO Nancy

    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 8:59PM
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All those things added are considered organic, they aren't chemicals. I wish I knew the answer as to what went wrong, hopefully not bacteria wilt, it would die immediately within one day if it were bacteria wilt.

Literally you would see a perfectly healthy plant one day, and the next walk into your garden to find the leave so wilted they looked like they hadn't been watered in a week, so whatever you have it's not that.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 9:06PM
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water not draining away and drowning the roots. Happened to one of mine.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 10:12PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

gardendawgie - I see no mention of any "chemicals" being used. Nothing but organic fertilizers were added to the planting holes. So how is your post relevant to the question asked?


    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 10:34PM
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Thanks for all your thoughts and comments. I do believe that what we used was organic and not chemical. My husband also said that he covered the mixture with soil before he put the peppers into the whole. We use that mixture for our garlic bed and it works wonderfully.

Our zone is really 5 now as the zone map has shifted a bit. We live in Michigan.

We did start these peppers (some) from seed and thought we had hardended them off enough. We have had a lot of rain recently which could be the problem.

Is there a better organic fertilizer for peppers than what we used? Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 7:46AM
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Will the pepper plants recover? I have over-watered mine in the heat as well. Thanks!!

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 8:25AM
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anney(Georgia 8)


Why don't you check the soil temps with a digital thermometer. You should be able to use a meat thermometer available from one of the big box stores if you don't have one.

I don't know about your zone soil temp, but mine here in zone 8 is only 72.8 at a 4 inch depth. For peppers to thrive, the soil should read around 70 degrees at 4-6 inches in depth. If the soil is too cool, they'll react to that stress in all kinds of ways. If that's the case, I think you should carefully mulch around the peppers with black plastic (even black plastic garbage bags) to quickly bring the soil temp up as much as possible and see how they do then.

I don't remember where I got this information, but maybe it will be useful. Crops that will germinate in the coolest soils (down to 40 degrees) include arugula, fava beans, kale, lettuce, pac choi, parsnips, peas, radicchio, radish and spinach seed. With a soil temperature above 50 degrees, Chinese cabbage, leeks, onions, Swiss chard, and turnips can be planted. When the soil warms to 60 degrees, warm season and many cool season vegetables can be sown, including beans, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots and cauliflower. But be forewarned  beans will not tolerate any frost and may have to be planted again if the temperature goes below freezing.

Wait until the soil warms to above 70 degrees to plant warm season vegetables including tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, cucumbers, squash, corn and melons. Tomatoes, eggplants and peppers are slow-growing and take many weeks to grow to the stage where you can plant them out in the garden, so you might want to purchase these as starts from your local garden center. On the other hand, squash, cucumbers and corn grow quickly and are easier to start from seed.

[Though the following soil temperatures do not entirely reflect the information given above since I found it at another site, they appear to be the earliest soil temps I could find for various vegetables to prosper!]

60 F - tomatoes, cucumbers, snap beans
65 F - sweet corn, lima beans, mustard greens
70 F - peppers, watermelons, squash, southern peas
75 F - okra, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 9:31AM
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Anney, Thanks for the information. It is great! The suggestion to test the soil is something I've never heard before. I'm going to run right out and do that. Our weather has been really warm this spring but today it's only 63. I'm sure the soil temp can drop fast when that happens. My father used to say that there was no sense in planting tomatoes or peppers before Memorial Day in Michigan. We always follow that but we have had a lot of rain the last two weeks and perhaps that lowers the soil temp too.

Thanks again for your suggestion.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 12:16PM
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anney(Georgia 8)


You are quite welcome! Maybe that's the problem. The soil is slightly slower to warm up and cool down than the ambient temperatures, so air temps cannot always be the best thing to rely on for planting. In the past several years, I've depended more on soil temperatures, always keeping in mind that they can be unstable sometimes, too.

I realized that the first two paragraphs in my quoted material are referring to germination temperatures, which are applicable to anything you might direct sow. The next set of temps, which are generally a bit lower, are the temps that plants themselves need after they've germinated and are growing, like plants you start inside. Seeds need slightly warmer temps to germinate than they need once they've accomplished that, though there are optimal temps for all plants.

Anyway, I hope your pepper plants recover and grow well for you.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 12:40PM
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Anney, You have been most helpful. I tried my thermometer and it didn't work. It's not digital and I don't think it works anyway. I will have to buy one.

Thanks for the well wish for my peppers.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2010 at 2:02PM
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Good Luck Luck Mayor,

Do you know what your soil's pH is ? Some soils in Michigan are very high and others are kindof low. Soil pH that is too high or too low can effect nutrient uptake to the plants foliage. I had problems growing things for years until I got my pH down. ( Wood ash is very high pH btw )

    Bookmark   June 9, 2010 at 6:00PM
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I just have to reply that even organic materials are chemicals. Some organic chemicals can even be stronger than synthetic chemicals. Organic does not equal mild either. Also chemicals are not terrible, water is a chemical and as said in this forum, too much water can be bad for plants too.

That said, I don't know if the chemicals used in this case were strong or mild I just wanted to provide better definitions for the words organic and chemical.

As for the original question, how much water have the plants been receiving? Were the transplants hardened off before planting? The suggestion of looking at soil temperature might be good since it looks like you are pretty far north of where I am. My biggest problem with peppers has been getting the right amount of water (not too much not too little).

    Bookmark   June 10, 2010 at 7:28PM
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Good idea to test the ph in the soil. We did that several years ago but not since then. We do add wood ash to the beds and over the years perhaps we have raised the ph too much.
I just top dressed the beds with compost yesterday. We'll see if that helps. I didn't put on too thick not wanting to make a drop in the soil temps. I am getting a thermometer today to test temps.
Thanks to everyone who has responded to this question. I love GW.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 7:48AM
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