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Need some advice on some pepper plants.

Posted: Tue May 01, 2018 12:59 am
by sniffs
So I have been growing peppers for a few years now. You guys have been great with some of the advice. When I started I was growing in tiny pots but was told to get bigger pots on a number of occasions and its worked. I now have some large pepper plants and some I've kept throughout the winter for almost 2 years now!

So I need some advice again. All my peppers are in pots with large 5+ gallon pots, some in real large 15-20 gallon pots. I realize that the soil gets used up and it's not practical to change the soil out so like 3 months back I took like the top few inches of soil off all my plans and replaced it with fresh soil. Then every other month I've been using miracle grow formula in lite doses.

3 Pepper plants in particular I'm worried there's something wrong with them. My scorpion 7pot has drooping, wilted feeling leaves AND stems, the step tips are drooping. The water meter says the soil is "wet" so I've been holding back on watering. I havent watered it like 3-4 days now. Temperature has been in the 60-80's(southern california).

Here's my 7pot that is having this wilt issue
7pot.JPG
Here's my carolina reaper. I've had this plant for 2 years now and have yet to get ANY peppers from it. The buds grow real tiny then shrivel up and die.
carolinareaper.JPG
And here's my ghost pepper. It's in a huge 10 gallon bucket and the plant is huge and just now starting to grow baby flowers, but all the leaves look like this and are tucking under.
ghostpepper.JPG

Re: Need some advice on some pepper plants.

Posted: Tue May 01, 2018 3:20 am
by applestar
I think you might be having mite infestation problem. For me, the clues are the dusty appearance along the stems and the fact that the growing tender leaves are stunted and look browned/dried up. There are several different kinds of mites that might be culprit.

Mites are difficult to deal with because they are microscopic — you can try looking at some of those leaves under 60X-100X magnification. Pepper leaves are tender and react badly to excessive spraying, dipping, and other treatments.

First step might be to try spraying daily with as hard spray of water as they can take to get them off the plants, focusing mostly on underside of the leaves. If necessary, cover the surface of the soil with plastic bag and tie around the stem so as not to wash the potting mix out or overwater. Make sure the sprays are directed away from other plants and the mites land somewhere they can get back onto other stuff.

If that’s not feasible (water restrictions and such), you may want to go directly to more serious measures. Only problem is most effective organic miticides contain sulfur or oil, not to be mixed with each other, and also make plants vulnerable in sunlight. Personally, I have found predatory mites to be very effective, and you have some good sources in California — the ones I get are shipped from there.

Re: Need some advice on some pepper plants.

Posted: Tue May 01, 2018 4:41 am
by imafan26
You have an excellent camera. On zoom, I can see a huge infestation of sucking pests. They are probably responsible for the deformation leaf and bud drop. If you can take your leaf samples down to the master gardener office near you, they may be able to id the pests and offer solutions. I think I see aphids, but there may be thrips and mites in the mix as well.

I commend you for keeping your plants alive so long. I do have some potted peppers but only the Reaper, trinidad scorpion, super chili, and Hawaiian tabasco are peppers that I keep long term in pots or in the ground. I have seeds, but have not yet planted the 7 pot hot peppers. I have managed to keep a Jalapeno going for over a year, but it was a sad puppy. I was only able to keep Kaala bell pepper alive more than a year. The chinense and some frutescens and baccatum peppers can live over for a few years. They do weaken over time and if they get bacterial or viruses, it is usually the end of that.

I actually use a combination of slow release and regular fertilizer. Osmocote and mostly citrus food for most of my pots. I rarely Miracle grow anything anymore and I only do it occasionally. I used to do it every 2 weeks until I discovered that while I had lush growth, the flowering improved when I used less. Now, I get soil tests every 3 years and have only needed to add small amounts of sulfate of ammonia, compost and little else. For potted plants, I do use potting soil but at the end of the season I use fresh potting soil, sterilize the old media and add it to the garden. I have peppers in pots ranging from 1-18 gallons. The 1 gallon pots are under a year, but some are two years old. I do get the small leaves and legginess, mostly because I don't feed them much at all and I do get pests.

The ones that I do try to save, I feed them with Miracle grow or Peters to try to get them as good as I can. I then cut them back after a couple of weeks and repot them. They have to be pest free. If pests are a problem, they have to be treated first or it is not worth the effort.

I actually do not take off the soil from the top, those roots are not the ones the plant can sacrifice. I take the plant out and try to save as much of the root ball as I can but if it is pot bound, i cut the roots off the bottom of the root ball and maybe an inch or two off the sides I repot in new media in a bigger pot, except 18 gallon pots will only get the roots trimmed. In my case I use either MG potting soil with 1/2 cup per 18 gallon pot of citrus food and some osmocote slow release fertilizer about 1/4 cup per 5 gallons. The longest I have been able to keep a pepper in an 18 gallon pot has been about 8 years. Smaller pots only 2-3 years. A lot of the longevity in my case has to be the peppers resistance to disease, especially bacterial and virus. I don't have problems with aphids but I do have problems with whiteflies and mites. Both of those can only be treated if I get to them early. I usually cut the pepper plants back and discard the tops and feed the peppers well after. The new growth usually comes out o.k. and I have to treat the entire yard for the mite and whiteflies. For me, that means getting the round up and rounding up the weed hosts, cutting back the hibiscus and ti leaves which are also hosts for the whiteflies and looking under leaves every time I water and jetting the leaves with water. Alcohol is my main pest control for most bugs. I just try to get the plants through the worst of times and hope they make it. Some do, and some don't. At some point, I have to give up and pull the weakest plants since they just invite attack.

Re: Need some advice on some pepper plants.

Posted: Tue May 01, 2018 3:37 pm
by sniffs
So I have about a dozen peppers. Most are very healthy, large, lush, green leaves, tons of flowers, growing peppers. Some like those above not so much.

If I have a mite problem, wouldn't it spread to the other plants? they are all mostly in close proximity to each other.

Are mites really microscopic or can they be seen with a magnifying glass? In my pics when I zoom in I see all the little white/black dots, but when I rub my finger over the leaf, nothing moves and I'm looking through a magnifying glass. I don't see any red dots, just some white dots but nothing moves. I've taken the magnifying glass and a needle and gently tried to prod the white/black dots but nothing happens.

The top image and the bottom image are the ones that are experiencing the weird discoloration and drooping. The middle image, the plant is super healthy looking and has new flowers everywhere, but they dry up and die real soon after so I'm wondering if I've over fertilized?

for the other 2, I'll look into predatory mites and cutting some of the plants back to make them easier to apply the mites to. Thanks for the tips guys!

Re: Need some advice on some pepper plants.

Posted: Tue May 01, 2018 6:10 pm
by imafan26
Mites, thrips, aphids and most other pests and diseases will move from plant to plant. Mites travel on dust in the air, thrips have wings, whiteflies reproduce rapidly and are very pesticide resistant, and aphids, mealy bugs, and scale are harbored and moved by ants. I put out ant bait and it turns out I have some frogs in my yard that eat mostly ants, and I have anoles too.

I plants are sick they should always be isolated from the healthy plants. Sick plants just scream that they are in distress and pests will gravitate toward the weakest plants and then work their way down the line. I would take a hard look and treat all the plants in the vicinity once the pests are identified. Repot in fresh media while you are at it in case you have some infestations near the soil level or in the soil itself. If it is in a greenhouse, take everything out; sanitize the greenhouse and check every plant before you put it back in. One of the bad things about greenhouses is that once pets and disease gets in, it spreads rampantly and predators can't get in either.

Spider mites are only one kind of mite. Broad mites and cyclamen mites are even smaller and you won't see them, just the damage they cause. While you can find products in the market labeled for spider mites, these are different species of mites and specific products are necessary. Usually, I don't have access to these miticides and I don't like to spray vegetables anyway so I isolate if I can, cut everything back and treat aggressively with water and alcohol and hope for the best. Usually a good rainstorm that lasts a few days takes care of the problem naturally. That is how aggressively you will have to dunk and water.
I use alcohol spray, water jets especially in the leaf axils and dips in horticultural oil baths. I have used baking soda sprays as a desiccant as well. Oil can work but since it is over 85 degrees on most days here, it is hard to use oils in summer. Sometimes plants are too weak and it is better to just give it a decent burial. Don't use soaps on peppers, it makes the leaves curl unless you wash it off after about 10 minutes. I use RU40 non ionic spreader sticker instead. I got it from the local ag supply. It cost more than the pesticide but it lasts a long time. Oil and sulfur cannot be mixed. Hot water can work but it has to be kept at a constant temperature 100-120 degrees and the entire plant, pot and all has to be dunked for about 20 minutes. The best time to do this is just after dark, that is when the mites come out to feed.

https://ipm.uconn.edu/documents/raw2/Cyc ... hp?aid=208

https://extension.psu.edu/broad-mites-i ... vegetables

Re: Need some advice on some pepper plants.

Posted: Wed Jun 06, 2018 4:58 am
by sniffs
So I sprayed those 2 plants with insecticidal soap. The next day they looked ok, it rained quite a bit. The second day most of the leaves had turned black and were falling off. I immediately cut off all of what appeared to be dead leaves and stems and just gave it time. A few times I really wanted to just dig them out of the pot and throw them away but I kept saying to myself "just wait.."

Here it is a little while later and we have healthy green growth on the stems now, I'm super shocked. I thought the plants were done for but they had other plans. It's late right now but I'll take some pics tomorrow of the new leaves.

Re: Need some advice on some pepper plants.

Posted: Wed Jun 06, 2018 5:57 am
by applestar
Yay!! :clap: