No fruit on green peppers... why and what can I do to force bloom

collins designAugust 3, 2010

Last year my pepper plants were DRIPPING with green peppers.

This year, the only fruits on the plants are the 2 or 3 that were already forming when I planted the transplants in early June.

The plants themselves are healthy, not overly bushy, but just about right. But there are NO blossoms and no fruits. I know that too much nitrogen can lead to bushy leaves and no fruit... but I didn't think I'd done anything differently this year compared to last year. The weather has certainly been different: last year was cool and rainy all June and July; this year has been unusually HOT and dry for Maine.

Regardless of the cause, is there any hope at all for these plants? Is there anything I can do to "force" them to bloom and set fruit. If they bloomed now I might get some green ones by frost....

if it's a lost cause, I might just rip out the whole bed (a large part of my garden, I was hoping to freeze lots this year...) and plant a fall crop instead.....

Thanks for any advice!

Stacey

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tree_oracle(z6b MA)

Did you plant the same variety of pepper?

Sometimes these things aren't obvious. Last year, my peppers hardly produced anything and this year there are peppers everywhere even though the plants are in the same spot.

It may be the hot, dry weather. Maybe watering them more will help. You might try hand pollinating the blooms. Maybe your pollinating insects are taking a break this year. Are your peppers being shaded by anything else in your garden? Maybe they are not getting enough sun.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 4:16PM
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jey_l

I've had much of the same problem with many things. (CT) Peppers finally got going and are producing . Seems that everything bolted(?) this year. Even a lot of my perennial herbs poked their heads up and grew a few inches and started going to seed. A bad year for purple too as my purple basil and peppers are still in a frozen state. I would wait. I was going to yank my habenaros last week as there was no sign of life but now they have quite a few growing. Nothing like last year but better than nothing. I did cut the roots a bit with a shovel but can't really say that's what did it.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2010 at 1:26AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I had the same trouble with eggplant this year. I would have thought the heat and extra sunshine this year would have had them growing leaps and bounds, but they have literally not grown one new leaf since I planted them. I saw one flower that never developed into a fruit. I thought it was kind of odd. I had a good layer of mulch on them that I thought would keep them comfortable and moist, but, I can't figure it out. Better luck next year I guess.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2010 at 6:28AM
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PRO
collins design

Thanks. I did get some Super Phosphate and fed them with that... and will water more often. The problem is no blooms. Phosphate is supposed to help with that. We'll see.... weirdly, the eggplants (same row!) and tomatoes are both doing great, and I thought all had similar requirements.

I planted several varieties, including some the same as last year. They are not shaded. It's very mysterious!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2010 at 6:40AM
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pixie_lou

I have 4 hot pepper plants - 2 jalapenos and 2 habaneros. One of the jalapenos has 1 tiny little pepper on it. The rest are duds. Nothing. Not even a blossom.

I changed my location this year since I thought my previous location was too shaded. And I had gotten small pepper crops the past 2 years. So I moved the hot peppers over near the patio where they get lots of sun, and hopefully the benefit of the patio heat. But it doesn't seem to really be making a difference this year.

One of my new gardening friends is having a wonderful pepper crop this year. She told me that pepper plants are perenial. So she overwintered her pepper plants (not sure where or how) and she has been picking peppers since late June. Maybe I'll have to find something to swap with her!

    Bookmark   August 6, 2010 at 8:27AM
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kathyannd(Zone 9b)

I wouldn't yank them out quite yet. Our red peppers and eggplant were doing absolutely nothing as well. We went away for a few days a week ago and had all intentions of ripping them out on our return and came back to blossoms, blossoms, blossoms. Go figure. Today I have half a dozen inch long eggplants. They are growing so fast, you can almost watch them grow. Now if the watermelon would stop blooming and start producing fruit, I'd be in veggie heaven.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 7:43PM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

StacyNeil -

This won't help for this year, but for next year consider planting a few Ace peppers, which you can get seed for from Johnny's Selected Seeds. Over a number of years, I've found that they produce for me better than any other pepper out there, even when weather is too hot, too cool, too dry, too wet . . you get the picture. They really do seem less fussy about their requirements to bloom and to set peppers, regardless of adverse weather conditions. I always plant Aces and then try a few other varieties, and the Ace have done best every year for as many years as I can remember (perhaps 20), regardless of what I plant with them.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2010 at 10:13PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

nhbabs, I love to hear a recommendation that has been time tested like that. Have you ever visited the Cornell Vegetable varieties site? You can rate any of the varieties of vegetables and look up the most recommended varieties of vegetables. I looked up peppers and the most recommended one, is 'New Ace' and the second is 'Ace'.

I tried a new one I like this year. 'Giant Marconi' was a long sweet pepper. It produced 5 peppers on one plant with very little attention. I've noticed this year, that the peppers are ripe very early. I have been picking red peppers for about 10 days now. I'm usually still waiting for them at the end of August. I only get 6 hrs of sun, so that is a lot for me. I'll have to try the 'Ace' next year too.

I wish I planted more pepper plants this year. [g]

Here is a link that might be useful: Cornell Vegetable Varieties

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 2:25AM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

Thanks for the Cornell link, PM2.

I haven't really been aware of 'Ace' vs 'New Ace', so I'm not sure what I have planted recently. I guess I'll have to see if I can find that info. My memory was just 'Ace', since that's what I planted first, but I'm not sure.

I will qualify with the comment that 'Ace' peppers aren't as big as some I've grown, and are more medium wall thickness, but that's better than no peppers in my view. I'd rather have bunches of fist-sized peppers than just one larger pepper.

My best warm pepper (it's not really hot, just mildly so) is 'Hungarian Hot Wax', though this year I found 'Hungarian Wax' and hoped that it was the same thing. I'm not sure how it will produce since it seemed to get a very slow start, at least partly because I have been traveling for work and while DH will water, he hasn't weeded. So the garden gets thoroughly weeded for a week and then they grow for two weeks while I'm gone; some of the pepper plants haven't liked that.

My favorite long sweet pepper stopped being produced several years ago, much to my dismay. I haven't yet found one to rival it for flavor, size, or number of peppers, including 'Giant Marconi', which I have tried. I think that growing peppers this far north will always be a bit of a gamble with our late starting, short season. I'm ready to go back to raised beds with hoop tunnels over them, which seemed to get the season rolling much earlier when I had those available.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 6:53AM
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tree_oracle(z6b MA)

Here's another recommendation for Ace. I grew it this year for the first time, and the harvest of peppers has been remarkable. I have around eight plants and I have harvested dozens of peppers. I no sooner harvest them than another round is well on their way to harvest.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 7:17AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Who knew there were serious vegetable gardeners here? lol That was the first gardening I did and I love it.

We grew halapeno last year and they really produced. I will have to try the Hungarian Wax and Ace and New Ace next year. I'm going to have to grow them in pots though.

Do you have a new long pepper favorite, Babs? We don't stuff peppers, so I like the long ones better.

That's a LOT of peppers, tree oracle! Eight plants, that seems like a number I could aspire to next year. Thanks for the encouragement. We eat a lot of peppers.

We have raised beds and I have some old windows around that I'm planning on constructing some kind of top to try to grow some greens later into winter.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 10:00AM
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pixie_lou

After having gotten 1 jalapeno all season long, I noticed this morning that I have 2 tiny jalapenos starting to form. *If* they grow - that will bring me to a grand total of 3 jalapenos all year.

Absolutely nothing on the Habaneros this year.

It's been so hot and dry I would have thought it would be a good year for peppers. Oh well.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 1:00PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

Habaneros are seriously long season plants. We usually don't get much, if anything from them the first year, so the big harvests are from plants that were overwintered. Right now I'm looking out the window are two Habs just covered with orange peppers. It's actually quite scary, just thinking of all the Scoville units it represents. My DH makes a good habanero-peach preserve, but a whole batch of that only takes a couple of peppers.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 2:36PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I've never heard of Peach/Habanero preserves. It sounds interesting.

How did you winterover your plants, mad_gallica?

We have been making gaspacho with our sweet peppers and freezing it. It's delicious.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 3:21PM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

Sorry, but I don't have a new favorite long pepper, PM2. I haven't yet found one that produces well enough to give it the garden space. I also haven't found one with the wonderful flavor that I got from Montego, which had thick, crispy walls, grew up to 9" long, had great flavor, and produced well even here with our short seasons. I wish someone would start producing the seed again!

I don't know if I'd be considered a serious vegetable gardener at his point in my life, since my current garden plot has more shade and root competition than I'd like. We do, however, eat quite a bit from the garden most years, though less this year because it's not getting much care and the woodchucks have done much damage. We are getting potatoes, garlic, basil, onions, squash, peppers, and tomatoes, and I need to get out there to see what else has started producing while I was out of town. There are a bunch of veggies I don't plant since DH doesn't like them and it's not worth planting just for me when I can harvest a few from friends or relatives. So I am a rather casual vegetable gardener, with years of rather more serious experience to fall back on since I started growing veggies in high school just to have fresh tomatoes and have only missed a very few years since. I tend to grow lots of the veggies that we eat lots of, but it's a limited range of veggies.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 8:58PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Babs, I would have to say I'm fairly casual about the veggie garden right now too. I'm usually pretty distracted by the rest of the garden right now and too many other projects. But I like my set up even if I don't like the short day of sun I have. I had some early years of intense vegetable gardening using a double dig method and square foot gardening the first five years after we moved into our house with help from a friend who introduced me to organic gardening. Long time ago now. Then I took off five years somewhere in there. I still think I'm going to get more serious one of these days. [g]

Oh, have you tried looking on the Seed Savers website for a pepper? I did look for the Montego you mentioned, but didn't see it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Peppers @ Seed Savers

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 9:47PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

We just bring the peppers inside, and keep them in a sunny window. The biggest problem is aphids, and it really is a big problem. When it gets really bad, the peppers get hosed off in the shower, and sprayed with pyrethrin spray for indoor plants. At this point, habs are the only ones we bother with. Cayennes are a very good short season hot pepper, as are serranos.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 10:49PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Gee, I didn't think it was that easy. Too bad you couldn't bring in a few ladybugs with them. [g] I'm going to try that next year, thanks.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2010 at 9:56AM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

"Too bad you couldn't bring in a few ladybugs with them. [g]"

I hate to tell you this, but the ladybugs that winter in my house (oodles of them as it's an old farm house with lots of spaces for them to hide in) don't do a thing with the aphids that come in with my overwintered tender perennials. Maybe it's a day length thing and they are just too drowsy during the winter, but even during those winter days with snow outside causing bright reflected sun the indoor ladybugs do little if anything to control my aphids and whitefly. I'm conidering using yellow plastic cards with tanglefoot on them, which is supposed to attract and control whitefly. As MG suggested, the shower works pretty well when things get too bad.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2010 at 10:32AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Babs, I guess it's the ladybug's 'dormant' season. [g] The shower idea doesn't sound so bad. I'm not in the habit of wintering over much, so I haven't had any aphids or such in the house. I'm taking a few cuttings this year and collecting seed and that's about it. Except for houseplants that go out for the summer.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2010 at 1:42PM
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PRO
collins design

Hi folks-
Thanks for all your comments and suggestions...
I tried phosphate and did get some blossoms... hoping they will have time to mature , but I'm not sure they will now that the weather's FINALLY turning cooler.
FWIW I planted a variety, including a few Ace, CA Wonder, Lady Bell, etc. None are doing any better than the others.
Next year I will be laying soaker hoses as well as keeping a closer eye on how much nitrogen the pepper bed gets!
Stacey

    Bookmark   August 25, 2010 at 8:11AM
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defrost49

If it makes you feel any better, I talked with a market gardener yesterday who said their peppers and eggplants didn't do anything this year.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2010 at 7:28AM
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pixie_lou

FWIW - I brought my 4 pepper plants (2 habaneros, 2 jalpenos) inside shortly after Colombus Day. They spent about 2 weeks - until Halloween - on my 3-season porch. They are now in my living room, in front of an east facing window. I keep a lamp on over near the peppers most of the day.

These plants are looking the best they have looked since I got them and potted them. No blossoms, but lots of new leaf growth. Maybe I'll actually get some peppers next summer.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2010 at 11:45PM
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tree_oracle(z6b MA)

I just harvested another 18 bell peppers from my Ace and Orion pepper plants this weekend. Those two are definitely the ticket. I grew all of my peppers in raised beds that are about two feet high and contain really rich soil. Maybe that was the difference.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2010 at 4:02PM
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nandina(8b)

I missed this question the first time around. The following is available on-line and may also be found at Lowes. Many of their stores are now carrying it. The product is a 4# bag of Espoma Bio-tone Starter Plus all natural plant food which contains Mycorrhizae and beneficial bacteria. Check the package to make sure it includes all that I have listed. You seriously need this in your bag of garden 'tricks'. At planting time add a scant handful to seedling planting holes. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, plus other veggies, too. Add a handful to container grown plants.

Not every plant utilizes Mycorrhizae fungus, but many do. Try using it next year to see if it increases your yields. I think you will see difference.

Then, there is the continuing battle that rages. Should pepper plants be spaced close to each other so foliage touches or spaced apart? I tend to fall on the close planting side after years of experimenting and plant mine 7 inches apart. Works for me.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2010 at 4:37PM
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