I like growing peppers in my container garden as they are one of my favorite food. But it can be harsh when the pepper plants don’t produce any fruit. I wanted to know why this happens and what I could do to avoid this problem.
Your pepper plants are not producing because the climate and temperature are not suitable for them. Peppers are a warm-climate plant that grows best with daytime temperatures between 70-85 F and 60-70 F at night. Low temperatures can cause the growth of the blossoms and peppers to slow down.
I’ve written more details that you will find helpful to figure out why your pepper production is not good and what you can do about this.
Other Factors that Affect Pepper Production
Like most living things, nutrition and upbringing (pollination) can have an effect on how well your pepper plants are going to produce. Consider the below items to help ensure a bountiful crop:
If your pepper plants do not have the right nutrient combination in the soil they’re planted in, they’re not going to grow their best and will have difficulty producing fruit.
Peppers need to have more potassium and phosphorus in the soil to ensure the fruit sets. If there is too much nitrogen, the plant itself will become large and green but it won’t yield any peppers.
It’s important not to overfeed your pepper plant. It only needs a teaspoon of feed (5-10-10 fertilizer) at the time of planting and then another teaspoon when it starts to bloom.
If you have concerns about the content of your soil, you can purchase a soil-testing kit. If you find that you’ve over-fertilized your plant, you can quickly fix it by spraying the plant with 1 teaspoon of Epsom salt dissolved in 4 cups of warm water.
Spray it again in 10 days and you should have blooming, and therefore producing, pepper plants.
If the pepper plants grow blossoms but don’t get enough pollination, they won’t set fruit. This can happen because pollinators like bees and birds are not visiting your garden.
The best thing would be to grow native plants that attract such pollinators to your garden. You should keep a bowl of water so bees and birds would come near your pepper plants.
If you still are unable to get the pollinators, you can hand-pollinate the pepper flowers using an artist’s brush or the flower itself. The male flower has the anther that contains the pollen while the female flower has the stigma.
You can gently brush the pollen off the anther and then apply it to the stigma of the female flowers. Keep doing this for as many female flowers as you can.
The other method is to remove the petals from the male flower so only the anther with pollen remains. You can then gently brush the anther to the stigma of the female flowers to hand-pollinate them.
Other Potential Pepper Issues
Poor pepper production isn’t the only possible issue you might face. There are other factors to consider as well, that might hamper your crop or hurt your efforts.
One such issue is how hardy your fruit is and how thick the walls of the pepper are. Consider the below to help ensure your fruit lives up to expectations:
The best time to harvest peppers is when they are ripe on the plant. This keeps the plant healthy and you can enjoy the most nutritious and tasty peppers.
You can know that the pepper is ripe by checking the smoothness of the skin. The wavier or gnarled the outside of the pepper looks, the more likely it is raw with thin walls
Peppers need time on the vine to pack in water and nutrients so make sure you’re giving it the time it needs to thrive. Remember that ripening time depends on the type of pepper so watch your peppers closely and don’t pick them before they are full and smooth.
Lack Of Water
Pepper plants are a warm-season plant that needs a lot of water to grow well. The soil has to be moist but it should not be soaking with water.
The best way is to add organic matter like compost when preparing the soil for the pepper plants. This material provides the right texture to the soil so it retains enough water but drains out the excess
It’s also good to add a layer of mulch on top of the soil near the pepper plants. The mulch helps keep the soil insulated so the moisture remains in the soil for a longer period of time for use by the plant’s roots.
Make sure to water the pepper plants regularly and avoid making the soil too dry. You can stick your finger 1-2 inches in the soil to check the moisture. If the tip of your finger does not feel moist, you need to water the soil.
Sometimes, the thickness of the pepper has nothing to do with care and everything to do with the type of pepper plant you are using. To ensure a thick, robust pepper plant, try one of the below varieties:
- Keystone Resistant Giant
- Yolo Wonder
- Jupiter Sweet Pepper
Things to Remember
Even if you are unconcerned with the state of your fruit, there are plenty of good planting and harvesting tips to remember that can help ensure the success of your crop, as well as future crops you intend to plant:
Below are only a few of the possible side effects that can be seen when peppers are exposed to incorrect climate:
- At daytime temps above 90 F, blossom drop can occur. This means that, though the plant has flowered, fruit may not be produced.
- At night, if temps rise above 75 F, the plant doesn’t receive enough calcium, and the pepper can experience what is called Blossom End Rot. You will see black or brown “rot” on the blossom end of the pepper which will result in loss of the fruit.
You’re not the only one that needs vitamin D. Pepper plants need at least 6 hours of full sun a day to ensure proper growth.
Seed storing is a great, sustainable practice if done properly, and pepper seeds are a great way to start. Be sure that you are saving true pepper seeds as hybrids can give you results that don’t always look like the original pepper plant. It’s better to choose open-pollinated varieties.
To harvest pepper seeds, make sure you pick your best pepper plant and let the fruit you’ve selected completely ripen until it’s slightly past its peak and starting to wrinkle (this may take a while).
- Remove your seeds,
- Inspect them for damage, and
- Lay them out to dry in a warm place out of sunlight.
- Turn them regularly until they are brittle and do not dent.
Dry seeds should be stored in a cool, dry place between 35-50 F with some desiccant (powdered milk works) and cheesecloth inside the container to help absorb any moisture. The container should be air-tight and properly labeled.
Though we’ve talked about how to know when pepper is ripe, there are other important factors to consider when harvesting peppers.
The type of pepper determines how it will look when ripened.
Peppers can vary by color depending on the type and may change color further as they ripen:
- Sweet peppers can be delicate at the stem and should be hand-pruned
- Hot peppers can be picked by hand, but those hands should be washed immediately after handling.
Peppers can be stored in a refrigerator for 7-10 days and can be used in a variety of ways.
In colder climates, peppers plants die off in the fall but will continue producing past the traditional growing season in warmer climates.
We all want to see our plants succeed, so remember the following tips to ensure the best pepper plants possible:
- Plant in full sun between 70-85 F with well-draining, moist soil with soil between 60-70 F at night.
- Water consistently and keep an eye on your plants to make sure they’re clear of stressors and well-tended.
- Check your soil nutrients and support your plant (stakes, netting, etc.) to keep them healthy and happy
- Check your fruit for ripeness and pick once smooth and firm
- Store in a refrigerator and use within 7-10 days.
- Save seeds (if desired). Once they are dried, store them in an air-tight container.