kafine
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Sad pepper, happy pepper - Growing Indoors

Hello! I am new to gardening and this year I have made my first go at peppers.

Here's a picture of some of my plants, and a question about the different behaviours.

Bell peppers on the left, jalepenos on the right.

As you may or may not be able to see, the jalepeno is pert and flowering (and fruiting!). But the bell pepper is making much larger and darker leaves and has an overall droopy appearance. It makes buds, but they get jettisoned before blooming. I am not sure what the problem could be.

Do the plants have very different needs that I'm not respecting because it appeared to work fine for the jalepenos?

- They get a few hours of full sun, by that window
- It can get pretty warm in that room, on hot days
- They get watered in the morning, and a second time in the afternoon only if they need it.
- I add a little bit of fertiliser to the water on an occasional basis.

The heat was a problem for a while; the buds started on both plants right at the height of summer and every one was jettisoned. But once we started to get some fresher days, the jalapeno immediately started producing fruit. Does a bell pepper prefer it cooler than a jalepeno does?

I wondered if the fertiliser might not be appropriate for the plant; I don't really know anything about it. If I were overdoing it, would it make the plant limp and leafy?


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imafan26
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Re: Sad pepper, happy pepper

Most peppers like the temps between 70-80 degrees F. Much higher than 85 and the blossoms will drop. Hot peppers will produce longer in hotter weather and some of the frutescens species can live for years, unlike bell peppers which will only live one season.
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Peter1142
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Re: Sad pepper, happy pepper

How big are those pots? If you need to water once or twice a day and the plants are indoors, they are probably too small.

Idk if you can grow bell peppers on a windowsill. I don't think you can...
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pepperhead212
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Re: Sad pepper, happy pepper

Many years ago I tried growing peppers indoors, some on a south windowsill, on which I grow my lime trees and curry tree with no problem. However, none of my peppers grew well on this, and even when I tried putting a couple under a 250w MH light for 16 hrs a day, they did not fare well (superchilis - a small plant - did OK, with a few peppers, but they were nothing like when outdoors). I later found that peppers needed at least 400 w MH, preferably higher, and that was too much for me.

Those plants look leggy, like they are reaching for light, not bushy, like peppers normally grow. And if you are having to water them that frequently, they may be rootbound - possibly the cause of the wilting. What is the size of the pots?

Though I can't speak for bell peppers, the peppers I grow LOVE the heat! California Wonder bells were bread for that region, so heat might bother them, but all of the hot peppers I grow, including jalapeños, thrive in the heat, so maybe your bell also likes cooler areas. Or maybe it is more rootbound, if that is part of the problem.
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imafan26
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Re: Sad pepper, happy pepper

Bell peppers don't like it cooler. They don't even want to sprout when it gets much below 68 degrees. I do agree if it is wilting is is probably potbound. Plants under that kind of stress will abort flowers. They are large plants. My plants are closer to 24-30 inches the first year. My tabasco will get to be 5-8 ft but the really tall ones that are old are tall because they are reaching for the light above my citrus trees.

I wish I could grow bells well, but they don't produce all that well for me 5-8 peppers max, except for Kaala but it has more disease resistance and was bred to be tolerant of Hawaii's diseases. I don't like to grow it because it is a mini bell.
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kafine
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Re: Sad pepper, happy pepper

Peter1142 wrote:How big are those pots? If you need to water once or twice a day and the plants are indoors, they are probably too small.
I don't know the volume of the pots; they're about 7 inches deep and 11 inches across.

It's possible it's far too small; I was unprepared for how big they grew!

I miiiiight be able to move it to something bigger, although where to put it will be a logistical challenge. Do you think it is worth trying, at this point?
imafan26 wrote:Bell peppers don't like it cooler. They don't even want to sprout when it gets much below 68 degrees.
Not much chance of that yet!

Peter1142
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Re: Sad pepper, happy pepper

The pots are probably too small yes.

IMHO growing bells on a windowsill is probably a lost cause, but I don't have any direct experience trying so take it for what it is worth. Worst case though they will make a nice houseplant for a while. ;)

Can they not go outside? Peppers like lots of sun. They do look leggy - the stems should be much thicker for their height. They will need to be hardened off if brought outside. At this point though the pepper season is drawing to a close in much of the country... where are you located?
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applestar
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Re: Sad pepper, happy pepper - Growing Indoors

If you have room for 11" diameter pots, then you could manage 4-5 gal pickle buckets (from the deli) in the same footprint space. Bell peppers would probably need that size..

I put my jalapeño's in 1.5-2 gal containers when overwintering them. They can remain productive in that size containers but with somewhat smaller fruits.

In my experience, bell peppers need more LIGHT and more water than Jalapeno's. I tried overwintering a struggling small bell pepper plant in a 7" diameter container and it produced pitiful golfball sized fruits ...one at a time.

Both of these varieties were PRUNED -- foliage and roots -- to cram into the containers for bringing inside, and they bloomed and produced fruits from some of the retained top growths and later from new shoots. I had them in a sunny southeast window with supplemental CFL daylight lights or under 6500K multi-tube shoplights with some morning sun.

Oddly, Jalapeno's will continue to grow and produce in lower temperatures than bell peppers. I'm still trying to find bell pepper varieties that overwinter well. Most seem to be programmed to decline and die with cold weather. Maybe I should try California Wonder.... But this winter I will probably try King of the North and what I think may be Pimento (not really bell -- heart/short conical shaped thick walled sweet red) Along with a few others.

Some pepper aficionados actually describe some varieties as "determinate".
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kafine
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Re: Sad pepper, happy pepper

Peter1142 wrote: Can they not go outside? Peppers like lots of sun. They do look leggy - the stems should be much thicker for their height. They will need to be hardened off if brought outside. At this point though the pepper season is drawing to a close in much of the country... where are you located?
Alas, no. We are in a 10th floor apartment.

The plants are on a table in a sort of closed balcony with windows on all sides, which is the best I can do right now. We normally keep at least one side open so it's the same temperature as outside, which is still pretty warm.

We're just south of DC.

Well, I'll rejig some things, try it in the larger pot and see how it goes. It does have buds so if even one batch can be encouraged to bloom before it finishes for the year, that'll be something. If there is no activity I guess not much was lost

Thanks for all the advice, I have a lot of things to think about for next year :)

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applestar
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Re: Sad pepper, happy pepper - Growing Indoors

Do read Why Bring Pepper Plants Indoors for Winter sticky thread if you haven't already.

When you repot with fresh potting mix, add a little extra perlite or sand to ensure good drainage, and take the opportunity to prune the top growth a bit. You only want one or two plants per container max. Inward growing branches should be cut off so more light can shine in, and choose only 2-4 main stems to grow upward and stake. Peppers respond well to pruning and grow lots of side shoots. Choose main "scaffold" or structural branches o support the rest and thin the branch intervals by rubbing off excess shoots. You might want to start cutting those tallest stems shorter -- just leave a couple of the blooming stems so as not to lose the fruits to come, but cut those down by 1/3 after you harvest the peppers.

Jalapenos are GREAT and easy to keep indoors like a houseplant. I love having that fresh green or red pepper to chop up to add to omelet or even brighten up store bought salsa in the middle of the winter.

Make sure you are using tomato fertilizer intended to promote blooming and fruiting, not fertilizer high in nitrogen intended for green leafy growth.

If you are not doing this already, get a vibrating electric toothbrush and buzz the blossoms above the flower stems to ensure that they set fruits. You'll be surprised how much more fruits you get.
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

kafine
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Re: Sad pepper, happy pepper - Growing Indoors

applestar wrote:Do read Why Bring Pepper Plants Indoors for Winter sticky thread if you haven't already.

When you repot with fresh potting mix, add a little extra perlite or sand to ensure good drainage, and take the opportunity to prune the top growth a bit. You only want one or two plants per container max. Inward growing branches should be cut off so more light can shine in, and choose only 2-4 main stems to grow upward and stake. Peppers respond well to pruning and grow lots of side shoots. Choose main "scaffold" or structural branches o support the rest and thin the branch intervals by rubbing off excess shoots. You might want to start cutting those tallest stems shorter -- just leave a couple of the blooming stems so as not to lose the fruits to come, but cut those down by 1/3 after you harvest the peppers.

Jalapenos are GREAT and easy to keep indoors like a houseplant. I love having that fresh green or red pepper to chop up to add to omelet or even brighten up store bought salsa in the middle of the winter.

Make sure you are using tomato fertilizer intended to promote blooming and fruiting, not fertilizer high in nitrogen intended for green leafy growth.

If you are not doing this already, get a vibrating electric toothbrush and buzz the blossoms above the flower stems to ensure that they set fruits. You'll be surprised how much more fruits you get.
Great tips, thanks!

I'm a bit of a soft touch and I was concerned about pruning but if that's making it harder for them to get light, perhaps I must buck up and do it.

I am already using the toothbrush method, and it does seem to work! I have ten jalepenos on the plant at the moment; actually just used my first ones to cook with :D

kafine
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Re: Sad pepper, happy pepper - Growing Indoors

SO today my struggling bell pepper plant bloomed its first flower :) Seems the larger pot and a bit of a trim around the ears were just the tonic.

Don't know if it will come to anything but now I know how to keep it from the beginning, next time!

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