jeffv
Newly Registered
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2016 1:18 pm

Bell pepper seedlings struggling

Hi All,

This is my first year trying to grow plants from seeds and I've been having a little bit of trouble the last week or two. I planted tomatoes, bell peppers and basil. The tomatoes were planted about 2 weeks before the bell peppers and they have since taken off fairly well. The bell peppers took about 5 weeks to finally poke above the dirt and for the past two weeks or so they looked like they were doing fine until the last 3-4 days. Since then some of them started falling over and shriveling up, others have leaves curling (both up and down), and some look just fine.

Here are pictures: https://imgur.com/a/7J6yn

The first picture is the group of seedlings that seem to be doing the best. The next 4 pictures after that have examples of the curling or falling over I was talking about. The final two pictures are tomato plants (both roma and 4th of july varieties).

I live in NH, which I believe is zone 5. I planted 3 seeds per cell about 1/4" below the soil level. I've been watering the seedlings twice a day with a spray bottle when the soil dries out. I usually give about 3-4 "sprays" per cell. All the trays of seeds are sitting on a window that gets a massive amount of sun during the day (usually from 9-10am to 6-7pm the seed trays are covered in sunlight and the windowsill is very warm). The house stays right around 70 during the day and night.

I've done a bunch of research before posting this and found out that I definitely didn't use the correct soil to start the seeds. I think I ended up using a regular garden soil which apparently is a big no-no :( Could that be the culprit?

I'm just a little confused how the tomato plants are doing so well but the bell peppers seem to be struggling so badly as they were both done the exact same way. Is there anything I can do to save the seedlings that seem to be struggling? The bell peppers look like they are just starting to sprout their first set of true leaves but it's almost like they have been stunted for the last 3-4 days.

Anyways, thanks a ton for the advice in advance!

AnnaIkona
Greener Thumb
Posts: 802
Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2015 1:20 am
Location: Canada zone 8b

Re: Bell pepper seedlings struggling

First of all, the peppers are probably not watered enough. The soil in which peppers grow should never dry out. Also, I think it is time to transplant them into individual containers.

And, what container are they growing in right now? Looks like those cardboard seed starting trays. I never liked starting seeds (especially peppers) in those, beacuse when you water them, the cardboard will absorb all the water from the soil.

What soil is that? Peppers prefer either Vegatable Soil or Garden Soil, definitely not seed starting soil or potting soil.
Zone 8b, Canada

User avatar
Allyn
Green Thumb
Posts: 485
Joined: Tue Mar 03, 2009 10:38 pm
Location: Mississippi Gulf Coast - zone 8b

Re: Bell pepper seedlings struggling

I was going to comment on the water, too. A couple of spritzes of water a couple of times a day isn't enough. Those seed cells (peat cells?) are bone dry which means the soil is dry and the seedlings are shriveling up. Those cells wick the water right out of the soil, so if you use them, make sure you water them, not just give them a spritz. The tomatoes in plastic cells look much better. Plastic doesn't wick water.

Peppers take a lot time to germinate. They like heat, so if you have seed mat, the next batch will probably come up a little sooner than these.

User avatar
Lindsaylew82
Mod
Posts: 2116
Joined: Thu May 22, 2014 1:26 am
Location: Upstate, SC

Re: Bell pepper seedlings struggling

They look pretty dry. I like to water from the bottom. I spritz the tops with strong brewed chamomile tea to help with dampening off fungus, also.
Lindsay
Upstate, SC
USDA Zone 7b/ Sunset Zone 31

Peter1142
Green Thumb
Posts: 313
Joined: Sun Apr 13, 2014 1:23 pm
Location: SE NY ZONE 6B

Re: Bell pepper seedlings struggling

I agree looks like they dried out. Get them out of the peat pots and water regularly.

I would strongly disagree with using "soil" of any kind for seed starting peppers. They should be grown in a soil less potting mix IMO.
Last edited by Peter1142 on Wed Apr 27, 2016 4:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Zone 6b SE NY
My blog Peter's Vegetable Garden

User avatar
KitchenGardener
Senior Member
Posts: 278
Joined: Tue Apr 26, 2016 12:30 am
Location: Northern California; Hardiness Zone 10a, Climate zone: 17

Re: Bell pepper seedlings struggling

Ooh, I hope this will not be considered a threadjack, but LindsayLew, can you say more about your chamomile tea process? TIA.

User avatar
Lindsaylew82
Mod
Posts: 2116
Joined: Thu May 22, 2014 1:26 am
Location: Upstate, SC

Re: Bell pepper seedlings struggling

4 bags per cup of boiling water overnight. Put it in a misting spritzer (I recycled an old hairspray bottle.) Mist them daily.
Lindsay
Upstate, SC
USDA Zone 7b/ Sunset Zone 31

User avatar
KitchenGardener
Senior Member
Posts: 278
Joined: Tue Apr 26, 2016 12:30 am
Location: Northern California; Hardiness Zone 10a, Climate zone: 17

Re: Bell pepper seedlings struggling

Thank you!

User avatar
Lindsaylew82
Mod
Posts: 2116
Joined: Thu May 22, 2014 1:26 am
Location: Upstate, SC

Re: Bell pepper seedlings struggling

Welcome! :()
Lindsay
Upstate, SC
USDA Zone 7b/ Sunset Zone 31

jeffv
Newly Registered
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2016 1:18 pm

Re: Bell pepper seedlings struggling

Thanks so much for all the quick responses!

The soil I believe is organic garden soil (I will double check that when I get home).

I also didn't realize that the peat pots were such a big problem. I started reading up on that after all the comments/suggestions here. Good to know for next year!

As for watering, that's definitely the issue I am running into. Some resources were saying let the soil dry out before you water while others were suggesting never letting it dry out even slightly. My concern was when they started shriveling was that it was damping-off and they were being overwatered. Glad to know that's not the case.

It sounds like from all the comments that they can still be saved so I will go grab some plastic / clay pots and transplant them tonight.

Would it be worth starting another batch of seeds as well or do you all think that these can be salvaged enough that it's not worth having another batch come through? I definitely would prefer to not end up with a few dozen pepper plants :)

Thanks again!

imafan26
Mod
Posts: 11568
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Bell pepper seedlings struggling

Try some in peat and perlite 50/50 mix. Add a couple of tablespoons of dolomite to a 5 gallon bucket of mix for calcium. You can also add some 8-8-8 organic fertilizer or Garden tone about 1/2 cup to the bucket and mix it well. Blood meal can be added for a faster N release organic fertilizer. I have used blood meal a couple of times, It is very light and blows away easily on a windy day and it does not go very far. I also prefer not to use animal by products.

Peat and perlite are allowed in NOP standards. Some people prefer coir since it is more renewable than peat moss. It is easier to wet but contains more salt and potassium than peat so you need to be more careful about adding more potassium.

4 parts coir + 1 part peat moss + a handful of vermicast + 4 parts perlite + vegetable tone.

I do not like coir because of the expense and because of the way I water, it packs down and stays too wet for me and I tend to overwater. It does not dry out as fast as peat moss alone and I like to have equal amounts of perlite to coir and peat moss. (I have switched to 60/40 peatlite for the summer since the pots were drying out too fast and it is working better.)

In all organic mixes you will still need to supplement with fertilizer. fish emulsion, compost or manure tea once the true leaves appear. Transplanting out to the ground as soon as it is ready is best since there aren't a lot of microbes in a pot to convert the organic fertilizers to a form the plants can use. It is why most organically sold potted plants are smaller and more expensive that commercially grown ones.

At the farm we do grow carrots in a 50/50 coir-perlite mix. The seeds are direct seeded in the bed and banded with sustane fertilizer + bone meal. 2 parts sustane + 1 part bone meal. This is an aquaponic bed so the water also carries nitrites from the fish effluent. The bed itself has been inoculated with red wrigglers to convert the nitrites to nitrates
We get sustane and fish bone meal from the local agriculture supplier in bulk bags. Iron is added to the fish tanks to supply iron to the lettuce so it gets to everything else as well.

https://www.sustane.com/index.php/products/lawn-garden
https://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/oc/freepubs/pdf/FST-56.pdf
https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/download.php?id=47
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

AnnaIkona
Greener Thumb
Posts: 802
Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2015 1:20 am
Location: Canada zone 8b

Re: Bell pepper seedlings struggling

If I were you, jeffv, I would keep the pepper seedlings you have, but just in case start another batch of peppers seeds. This time in plastic containers. (I use the bottom of milk jugs)
Zone 8b, Canada

Return to “Vegetable Gardening Forum”