Growing pepper plants is a fairly easy process, which can be done in a backyard garden or individual pots on the windowsill. With the proper resources, your pepper plants will flourish but try as you may, a minor error could result in stunted growth.
Stunted pepper plants can recover but only when the culprit is determined in the early stages of plant development. Another factor is proper intervention, such as an increase in nitrogen and other nutrients.
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Prevent Early Fruiting
It is definitely exciting to watch pepper seeds transition into seedlings and maturity. Initially, the first sign of fruit is a positive sign of vitality. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
No matter how eager you are to see your pepper plants to bear fruit, it should never happen too soon. Early fruiting can result in the stunted growth of a pepper plant.
Fortunately, there is a preventative measure that can prevent early fruiting. This technique entails the safe removal of the first flowers.
Removing only a few of the first flowers will direct more energy to the foliage. Pepper plants require a lot of energy to remain vital throughout development.
Leaving all the new flowers intact will direct energy away from the structural components. If not detected right away, the pepper plant’s growth will become stunted.
Pepper plants are not any different than other species, as they need proper nutrients to thrive. However, there is one difference between the pepper plant and many other species is the nutrient requirement.
Pepper plants require a significant amount of nitrogen to ensure healthy stem production and foliage.
Plant nutrients are divided into two categories – macronutrients and micronutrients. Nitrogen falls within the macronutrient classification.
Other required macronutrients include potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, sulfur, and calcium. Micronutrients, on the other hand, are not only needed in “trace” amounts or small amounts.
Nutrients that fall within the micronutrient classification include iron, copper, molybdenum, boron, zinc, chlorine, and manganese.
The first sign of malnutrition needs to be addressed without further ado.
Each nutrient deficiency produces unique symptoms. For example, calcium deficiency causes new misshaped leaves. Magnesium deficiency causes the edges of older leaves to turn yellow.
Nitrogen deficiency will result in stunted growth. To avoid this issue, it is recommended to add organic compost, with coffee grounds.
Properly pruning pepper plants will not only prohibit growth but also result in minimum yield.
Every gardener’s goal is maximum yield. Of course, a maximum yield is nothing when the peppers lack flavor and juiciness. Over-pruning and untimely pruning will end in poor growth development and a lack of flavors and juices.
There is a trick to pruning pepper plants. In the early stages of growth development, it is not recommended to utilize pruning shears.
The plant structure is vulnerable, too vulnerable to risk injury with a metal pair of pruning shears.
Start by pinching off the first flowers to prevent the plant from setting fruit. When this happens, the plant will direct too much energy toward the production of fruit, resulting in poor structural development.
There needs to be sufficient energy to encourage foliage growth. Removing only a few flowers will direct energy toward healthy foliage growth.
It is okay to remove stems as long as you do not go overboard. If you opt to utilize your fingers instead of pruning shears, you need to be careful to not spread bacteria and viruses to the plant.
Experts suggest utilizing a mixture of water and powdered milk to deactivate viruses and bacteria. Dip your fingers into the solution periodically to ensure maximum effectiveness.
While pepper plants require a significant amount of nutrients, too much can alter growth development. Regardless of how eager you are for your pepper plants to generate fruit over-fertilization should be avoided.
Botanists recommend 5-10-10 NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium) for pepper plants.
If you break the fertilizer down, you get five parts nitrogen and 10 parts potassium, and 10 parts phosphorus.
Nitrogen provides pepper plants with chlorophyll, a crucial component of vegetative growth. The nutrient is more important during the early stages of growth development.
At the first sign of flowers, the nitrogen concentration should be decreased.
Giving a pepper plant too much nitrogen can result in poor growth development and the inability to generate flowers and fruit.
There are several recommended fertilizers for pepper plants. These include granular, powder, and liquid fertilizers.
Granular fertilizer can easily be mixed into the soil while liquid fertilizer needs to be diluted and powder fertilizer dissolved. Each fertilizer has benefits. For example, granular fertilizer delivers long-lasting effects.
Liquid fertilizer, on the other hand, absorbs quickly and is more versatile.
Like all plant species, pepper plants are prone to specific diseases. One such disease is the mosaic virus, which targets other vegetable and fruit plants.
The mosaic virus spreads through the help of various insect species, including leafhoppers and aphids.
Pepper plants are also prone to Phytophthora blight disease. The culprit is “Phytophthora capsicia,” a soil-borne oomycete.
The disease has been linked to excessive rainfall (two inches or more) that leads to saturated soil. The saturated soil is a breeding ground for Phytophthora capsacia.
Proper drainage and organic insecticides can help reduce the risk of pepper plant diseases. Botanists recommend well-drained soil comprised of organic compost and nutrient-rich soil.
Stunted growth can be corrected if caught in the early phases of growth development. However, it takes more than just one intervention to boost the growth of impacted pepper plants.
It takes a combination of interventions, including the removal of new flowers, proper nutrients, water, fertilizer, and sunlight. Newbie backyard gardeners are more likely to be left dealing with poor growth development.
However, it can happen to any commercial farmer and gardener without a moment’s notice.