Cotyledon leaves dying off

esox07 (4b)February 25, 2012

When do the cotyledon leaves normally begin to die off on seedlings?

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esox07 (4b)

Here is an example of mine. Some are, some are not dying of right now and in some cases, the new true leaves are not really even formed yet.


Bruce

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 1:21PM
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shoontok

yikes, that dont look good man. Is that granular stuff a fertilizer? if so u might be burning em up?

Only other thing i can think of is overwatering? or possibly some fungus or something?

I have a small maui purple pepper plant that is about 4 inches tall and still has cotyledons. They do fall off eventually, but i think they usually stay on the plant til quite a few sets of the true leaves grow.

Jim

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 1:43PM
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Edymnion(7a)

Yeah, the cots should stay on well after the first true leaves appear. It would not be considered unusual to still have them on there after the second or third set of true leaves (but they're usually gone after that point).

I know its not a pepper, but I have a melon vine now that's over a foot long with 4-5 sets of leaves that still has it's cots.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 1:54PM
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jsschrstrcks(9)

I have a pepper plant that has considerably more than 3 sets of leaves, and I only just pulled its cots off....

Could be over/under watering.
could be too much fert I suppose. But thats just a guess.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 2:27PM
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ottawapepper

In my experience, cotyledons can die off any time between the start of the development of first true leafs through to not until the development of second or third set of true leafs.

Like people, each plant develops in its own way on its own schedule.

JMHO

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 2:43PM
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esox07 (4b)

Yah, thanks for all the opinions guys. I am mildly concerned right now. Shoontok: the "granular stuff" is just perlite. It is stained. I have used little ferts. A couple waterings with Dyna gro 9-3-6 diluted to about 1/4 tsp per gallon. The other waterings were straight water. I have watered about every 3-4 days or so. They are planted in a fine ground hardwood mulch mixed with perlite. The stems and true leaves still look good. I have them under three parrallel shop lights with two 40w daylight 6500K bulbs each. The lights are side by side and extend about three inches over the outside edges of my seedlings so they are all getting ample light. The lights are 1-2" above the seedlings. Aside from the cotyledon leaves, none of the plants look like they are "dying". Most of them came up quick (5 or 6 days) and aside from the dark colorings on a lot of them, they have behaved nicely. What is strange about it, is that the seedlings where the cotyledons seem to be dying off the quickest are the more normal green looking seedlings. The dark coloration as well as the cotyledon issue seems to pretty much traverse all varieties of peppers I am growing.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that this isn't a terminal problem that will become widespread and eventually fatal. I have three to four seedlings in each container and plant to keep only one so I have numbers on my side.
Bruce

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 3:23PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Looks like overwatering to me, Bruce.

My seedlings typically retain their cotyledons until they go into the ground (or containers).
Once in the ground, pests eat the lower leaves, or else they turn yellow and fall off from
the cool, wet soils of Spring.

Josh

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 5:37PM
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habjolokia

Hi Bruce looks like they got you covered, a few of mine the true leaves turned black and I moved them all to one side of my shop lights and raised them higher on that end, did not seem to make a difference. I agree 3-4 days you water them could be too much for them. I wait until my start to wilt then water. Last year lost too many to damping off. From the pics at least the true leaves are green so not too much to worry about at this point.

Mark

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 6:46PM
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esox07 (4b)

Guys, thanks. Yes, maybe that is so. I just figured with seedlings, that if they dry out, they will only last a little while before they will be dead. I am used to letting my grown plants clearly show signs of being dried out but I was afraid to let my 1" seedlings go limp at all. I will let them go and try to keep a close eye on them. I hope that if that is the problem, I haven't done irreparable harm. I too dealt with damping off last year so clearly, I have a tendency to over water.

Josh: Awesome pick there.
Thanks again,
Bruce

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 7:06PM
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tsheets(5)

I think you're right to be concerned about them at this stage. A full grown plant can handle thirst much better than a seedling. I agree, it looks like overwatering, but, definitely keep an eye on them!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 12:23AM
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jsschrstrcks(9)

I do as well bruce.

Its easy to do.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 1:09PM
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ottawapepper

Josh's post about how long Cotyledons last got me questioning my experience and response so I called a friend more experienced in plant biology than I.

OK, here's the dope (not the hydroponics store kind)...

Cotyledon leafs are part of the embryonic structure of seeds. Their sole purpose is to provide the newly hatched seedling with energy until it has enough chlorophyll producing true leaves to sustain itself. Once the plant has no more use for them they die off. Timing of them dying/falling off varies greatly even within the same species. Environmental conditions will also affect when Cotyledons are dropped.

The above being said, over watering seedlings/larger plants can cause leaf drop (including Cotyledons) if not corrected in time. If Cotyledons drop before the first true leaf(s) are formed, you will loose the seedling.

FWIW

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 4:30PM
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esox07 (4b)

Good info there Ottawpepper. All of my seedlings have just emerging true leaves so I guess if the cotyledon leaves fall now, I am in trouble. I gave them all a shot of real sunlight this afternoon through a window for about three hours. I am leaving them up there and they will get another three or so tomorrow afternoon if the forecast holds. In the mean time, they are drying out. So far, no wilting that I can see so the sun doesn't seem to be too much and they are obviously not dried out yet.

I did look at some photos of my plants from last year and the seed leaves were still there after they were several inches tall.

Wish me luck.
Bruce

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 5:51PM
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ottawapepper

Bruce, if you have a fan, the air flow will help speed up the drying process. I'd set it on low and far enough away that it's not stressing the seedlings.

Just an idea.

Good luck friend, I know the pain of loosing them young.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 6:05PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey, gents!

My experience is probably atypical, particularly in that I grow my peppers in dry conditions.
You can see in the pic I posted that the lowest leaves - the cotyledons - are lighter green
that the first set of true leaves. Sometimes, when I plant my seedlings, I actually remove
the cotyledons because they touch the surface of the soil or the container mix and make another
pathway for pests to climb my plants. If holes begin to appear in the lower leaves, I yank the
leaves immediately...and dump on the Sluggo!

Bill, great tip about the fan. I have a paddle-fan above the table where I start my seeds,
and I try to turn it on for three hours a day at least, especially when the lights are on.

Josh

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 7:51PM
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esox07 (4b)

Guess I better break out the fan then. I ran one last year but not until they were a bit bigger. I guess now is as good a time as any to start.
Bruce

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 8:14PM
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esox07 (4b)

Well, the one seedling only has two small "True" leaves now as the seed leaves have fallen off. But the seedling still looks viable despite dropping the seed leaves prematurely. You can see the other one above it still has one seed leaf left.


Bruce

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 10:42PM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Have you used this particular growing medium before? I'm thinking that hardwood mulch mixed with perlite mat be difficult to keep at the right moisture level for growing seedlings. Not impossible, just difficult.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 8:53AM
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esox07 (4b)

Yes, that is one of my concerns as well. It seems to do OK with the moisture factor. I used it several times over the winter to re-pot various house plants and they all seem to do well. And the drainage seems to be good. I think that if moisture is the problem, then it was me watering too often. We shall see. I am letting the really dry out this time before I water them again. So far they don't look any worse which at this point is a net gain. I am also giving them a little real sunlight to see if that doesn't help a little.
Bruce

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 10:14AM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Well, full grown nouseplants are little different than seedlings, in this case I'm thinking of how their roots permeate the medium. Early, seedlings have little short roots, so if the top inch dries, then there goes the seedling. On the other hand if you have to keep watering to keep it moist, you can choke off oxygen to the roots and possibly wash nutrients away. That's what I mean by difficult. A finer medium more suited to seed starting might help you because it would dry slower, allowing you to water less often. Later you could probably put a larger pepper into your mix and it would be happy wiith the quick drainage. But again, difficult is not impossible. Cheers!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 12:16PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Sunnibel,
I start my seeds in a very porous, free-draining mix, and I never have a problem with seedlings drying.
Fine particulate is not the answer, in my opinion. Here's a pic of my seedling mix from last year:

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 4:33PM
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esox07 (4b)

Josh: I should have used that MG orchid mix that I used last year. I just can't find good stuff to make growing mediums here. Is that basically the same as you use for your containers in the summer?
Bruce

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 5:19PM
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habjolokia

Hi Bruce,

Hope you don't mind me chiming in, while waiting for Josh's response. I use orchid mix the past two years it better than just potting soil's way better results with seed germination rates. What did you use for your mix? You may have stated but I don't remember.

Mark

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 6:02PM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

I just knew someone was going to say "but it works for me to use chunky mixes" :) I was only suggesting it might not be the best approach for the person having troubles. After all, many other people use much finer particles and have success as well, and some people can grow things in just rocks with the right soluble fertilizer...

My comments on drying came from work at a nursery, where frequently the medium would wash out of the pots and one guy replaced it with mulch. Those pots were just constant trouble. Everyone always thought they needed more water. Maybe it is a case of not being able to accurately judge moisture by sight based on experience with finer particles? Just trying to help the OP have pepper happiness, not stir up anything about growing media. Cheers!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 7:55PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Oh, it's no secret that I grow in porous, gritty mixes ;-)

And it's not an "It works for me" comment. The principles that I'm practicing will work for most
gardeners, barring extreme circumstances or exceptional situations. I'm not trying to stir anything
up, either; it's just that this particular "someone" has been here from the start, advocating porous,
well-aerated mixes for seed-starting and seasonal growing.

Bruce, the seedling mix is significantly drier than the mix I use for the Summer.
For seedling mix, I screen my particles so that they fall in the range of 1/8 to 1/4 inch.
The ingredients are in equal parts: fir bark, perlite, and a porous grit (pumice, turface...).

During the Summer, I use the more moisture-retentive mix: 5 parts fir bark, 1 - 2 parts perlite,
and then 1 part of a fine particulate (peat, potting soil, turface, compost) to increase moisture.

The beauty of a well-aerated mix is that you know it's going to dry out, and you know you can water.

Josh

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 8:14PM
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esox07 (4b)

Thanks guys. I just keep learning new stuff. My seedlings havent gotten any worse and are getting dried out. I think they are getting close to the point of being totally dry so I will have to watch them close now. I have them back in the basement under the shop lights after a couple good afternoons of sun from the window.
Bruce

    Bookmark   February 27, 2012 at 11:35PM
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habjolokia

Sounds like you are back on track since they are getting better, keep us posted on how they do, maybe a pic in a week or two?

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 10:20AM
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esox07 (4b)

Will, do. They are nearly 100% dry now but showing no signs of wilting...further evidence I was drowning them because I would have probably watered them three or four days ago.
Pics coming next week.
Bruce

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 11:48AM
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jsschrstrcks(9)

Glad to hear they are doing better!

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 12:55PM
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esox07 (4b)

Looks like most of my seedlings will make it. I only need to save one per container anyway. But even without the seed leaves, it looks like they are going to continue putting out true leaves. I haven't had a seedling die as of yet so that is a good sign. Several have already had both seed leaves dry up and drop. But here is a pick from the 25th followed by a pic from today and you can see the true leaves on the plant without any seed leaves are continuing to grow.


Bruce

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 4:06PM
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habjolokia

Looks much better now, whew! close one. Glad they pulled through.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 4:35PM
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ottawapepper

Great news Bruce!

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 5:16PM
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scotty66(8 Hutto TX)

So the blackening of the leaves is a sign of "over-watering"... I was worried about my plants because they were looking similar to Bruce's pictures.
Guess I'll hold off on the watering.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 11:40PM
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esox07 (4b)

Scotty66: That may be the problem. However, I think it may be due to having watered them with some unknown substance when I first planted them. I have a bunch of water jugs around and I think I had something in one that wasn't Dyna-Gro 9-3-6 as I thought it was. One reason I say this is that the growing medium seems to have turned dark and almost oily looking. My seedlings have also started to drop their seed leaves prematurely. I think that may be overwatering but then if I put something in the water, then who knows. I am still trying to figure this thing out but I do know something is wrong with my seedlings. The good news is that they are not dying off completely. Even though the seed leaves are dropping almost before true leaves start growing, the seedlings are hanging in there and continue to progress slowly. Worst case scenario is that they all eventually die off. Best case scenerio is that they continue to hang in there and become vigorous Pepper plants although delayed. I just watered them tonight for the first time in a week. They were almost completely dried out. Here is a pic to update the seed leaf drop.


Bruce

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 12:38AM
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sandysgardens

Bruce,

Have you tried transplanting a few of them into other planting medium to see how those do?

Sandy

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 7:04AM
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jsschrstrcks(9)

have you considered transplanting those a bit early? if there is something they don't like in the soil, it might help them to rebound faster.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 10:03AM
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esox07 (4b)

Yep, I have considered it. I want to avoid harassing the plants any more than I have to though. I have a kind of experiment going on. About ten days ago, I took one of the containers out that failed to produce any seedlings. I put fresh soil (same mix as others) and put in some seeds from an orange bell pepper I got at the super market. They all came up fine after about 10 days. I am going to water this one container with clean water and not water with the others. i am going to give it a week or two to see if #1: the leaves turn dark like most of the others and #2: see if the seed leaves drop prematurely and #3: see if it develops that same dark oily tinge on the surface. If all that happens, then I will know it is just the soil mix. If not, I can assume I mistakenly watered the others with something unintentional in the water.
Wish me luck.
Here is the Orange bell container as of last night:

Notice the difference in the color of the soil of the surrounding containers. The bell pepper container is in row 2 column 4:

Bruce

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 11:48AM
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scotty66(8 Hutto TX)

My leaves are looking a bit dark (some more than others) and from reading this thread I know that I was overwatering (just a splash every other day). but I'm also concerned because I'm not seeing much growth.

So I planted my bhut seeds in a Peat Pellet starter kit (3 seeds per pellet)... when it came time to transplant, I decided to break apart the peat pellets and save as many seedlings as I could.

out of a dozen pellets (3 seeds each) I had four pellets with no sprouts and 1 with a single sprout. The pellet with only 1 plant I put directly into a new pot (the way starter kit instructs you to do). That plant is least 2x if not 3x as big as all the others, even though it also has dark leaves.

The temperature around here has been in upper 70's during the day and mid 60's at night. I've been keeping my plants outside under the oak trees where they can get sun and shade. Hoopefully that will help them recover as well.

These are some of seedlings that went through the "traumatic transplanting".

This is the "properly transplanted" bhut.

If I did kill the majority of the transplants, the four pellets that had no sprouts.... have finally sprouted. It took a long time, hopefully these I won't screw up.

in the top corner of this pic is another peat pellet with a new sprout just coming up... I put a dozen chiltepin seeds in there 3 weeks ago. I had never harvested seeds before, and I'm very happy to see some signs of life from these.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 10:24PM
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esox07 (4b)

Scotty66: Yep, you seedlings sure look a lot like mine as far as the dark coloring goes. Are the plants turning dark before or after you move them from the peat pellets? And are they all showing some of the dark or just some? Do they start out green and then turn dark? How long after they pop up do they start turning? Oh, and do you see any premature dying off by the seed leaves?
Thanks,
Bruce

    Bookmark   March 2, 2012 at 10:31PM
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tsheets(5)

One thing I would suggest; remove the netting from the peat pods when you pot them up. But, to do this with minimal trauma, you'll need to get to it before the roots start growing into the netting.

I don't really know anything about the darkening leaves. I would be surprised if it was from over watering, though. That tends to cause them to lighten/yellow then fall off.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 11:28AM
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jsschrstrcks(9)

I tend to leave the netting on, but I cut lines in the bottom to let the roots escape more readily.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 12:13PM
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tsheets(5)

I have used them in the past and at the end of the year, when I am tearing the garden down, I'd find the nets still there, with a bunch of roots stuck in them. Just seems to restrict too much for my liking. But, I don't like those bio pots either ( cow pots or whatever they're called).

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 12:41PM
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scotty66(8 Hutto TX)

the seeds sprouted around jan. 28 and were very green... i didn't notice the darkening of the leaves until a week after transplanting. as i said, even the 1 plant that was transplanted correctly is showing some darkening (but not as bad as the others).

up until this week they have all been crowded under a 4' shop light (2 daylight bulbs). A few days ago I started moving them outside. If it's not the watering... maybe it was the light? though i haven't seen any improvement since moving outside...

1/2 the plants were transplanted into 3" pots with scotts garden soil... I ran out of pots and put the others into some 8-packs of eco fiber seed starter cells (1" cow pots). those have a mix of re-used peat and scotts garden soil.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 2:13PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Bruce,
the "new" mix in the middle of the flat looks better than the surrounding cells.
I would advise that you go around the flats and gently scrape/rough up the surface
of the mix with a toothpick. This should help to increase aeration.

Josh

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 2:58PM
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esox07 (4b)

Josh,
I thought about that too. When I watered the night before last, I "squeezed" the containers on each side to "break up" the soil. It was pretty dry and broke apart pretty well. I was thinking that would aid in draining and just give the seedlings a little breathing room down below. It seemed to work pretty well and didn't hurt the plants. I don't know if it will help the plants or not....time will tell.

I think that new container in the center will give me the opportunity to determine if the soil mix I used is just that way or if I accidently added something unintended to it or if maybe it is a result of over watering. If it stays lighter, and the seedlings don't develop darkened seed leaves, then I know it isn't just the soil but something I did wrong. I am making sure I water the new container separate from all the others and making sure that I don't over water it from the start. It just has sprouts from that store bought bell pepper and I didn't intend to grow any bells, but I just know I wont be able to bring at least one of the little fellas to full term.
Bruce

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 3:34PM
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sandysgardens

Bruce - How are the plants doing?

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 7:42AM
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esox07 (4b)

Sandysgardens:
Well, They are not dying. Actually making some progress, I guess. I have come to the conclusion that it is probably the soil mix that I used that caused them to turn dark. Even the Orange Bell peppers that I planted later in the same soil mix have now started to develop the dark seed leaves. Now, if they start to prematurely drop their seed leaves, I will be able to conclude that it is probably the soil that is to blame and not something I accidentally watered them with. Here is what I have as of today. The first picture is of my Sweet banana peppers. Notice they have almost lost all of their seed leaves even though they have barely any regular leaves yet.

Here are my Jalepenos: Same story

Orange Tree Habaneros: They have no seed leaves left at all. The leaves you see are the first set of true leaves.

These are my Red Tree Habanero Plants. The one darker colored seedling in the foreground still has it's seed leaves, the rest have all dropped and what you see are the first set of true leaves which, like the other true leaves are green.

Now, these are an exception. These are supposed to be Butch T Trinidad Scorpions from another list member. They seem to be relatively un-phased. Although, they do seem to be behind schedule as do the others.

Now here is another slight variation. These are supposed to be Black Cubans (also from another list member) and while they are not really showing significant seed leaf drop, they are completely purple. This could be a trait for Black Cubans, I don't know. But even their true leaves look to be coming in dark colored.

Then, I have my Twilights (from list member). Like most of the other varieties, have dropped all their seed leaves and have just a small single pair of true leaves that are so far green.

Then, my last variety: Pepperoncini, seem to be holding their seed leaves pretty well but are quite dark colored. The true leaves seem to be coming in green so far.

Finally, a picture of my Orange Bell peppers which I planted much later and which have just in the last day or so started to turn dark purple. I was hoping they wouldn't turn purple and that way I could assume the problem was something I watered the others with early on.

The thing that I don't understand is that I have several house plants using this soil mix as well as three overwinter pepper plants (Bhut and two Hot Hungarian Wax). All of them are doing quite well and all have very normal colored foliage. And the peppers have been in that soil for a couple months longer than the seedlings. Could it be the lighting? I run 3 - 4' shoplights with 40W T12 bulbs. 4 bulbs are daylight 6500K and two are grow lights mixed in. The grow lights were swapped in a couple weeks ago.

So, I am probably past the point of starting a new batch and since these are not dying, I will probably stick with them until the die...if they do. Never-the-less, I am already behind in my schedule. They have been going about 5 weeks now and should be putting out two to three sets of true leaves by now. Last year I had 3" tall good looking plants at 5 weeks.

Bruce

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 2:00PM
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tsheets(5)

I can't help but think it has to be the mix you have them in. If those are 5 weeks, something isn't right. Maybe you could sacrifice (or save hehe) a couple and repot them in a different medium and see if they take off.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 2:48PM
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esox07 (4b)

Yes, I thought about that. But I think they are in kind of a fragile stage with puny true leaves and no seed leaves, I am afraid the shock might be too much. Besides, my overwinter peppers are doing great in the same mix. They even have peppers on them. They started out so good too. Basically all of them sprouted in less than a week. They looked great for a week or two after that and then started turning purple and then began dropping the seed leaves after that. I thought maybe over watering but the Orange bells have been strictly controlled and they are now turning purple...but they are not dropping any seed leaves yet. Not sure what to do at this point. Maybe I will just go pick up some MG orchid mix and move half over to new pots.
Bruce

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 3:19PM
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habjolokia

Hi Bruce I would not worry about the stage they are at now, I had a bunch of Bhuts in a yougart cup I would say about 10 or so, did not have the heart to cull them. My Wife who has nothing to do with any gardening, I wanted her to be involved at least once. I stepped away and came back she was separating the roots and clearing all the soil around them before potting them separately, now I don't recommend this method but they lived and were at the same stage at the time as yours look now, fragile? Maybe but I think a few you could repot don't think it would hurt. I have pics if you want me to email lol!

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 4:19PM
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esox07 (4b)

habjolokia: Sure, email pics. I love them. I think I will run out and get some different stuff. I have three containers of each variety other than the 12 for my Sweet Banana peppers. I think I will take one container (3-4 for the Sweet bananas) and pull the three to four seedlings and replant them in the new soil. Then I will put them back under the lights with the rest and see which ones do best. Kind of hedge my bets that way.
Bruce

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 6:33PM
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tsheets(5)

I was just thinking one or two pots to test with, but, you're probably right using more to hedge your bets. We're burnin' daylight, so to speak. May is going to be here before you know it. It's risky, but, I think pretty much bare rooting them is the way to go, just like habjolokia's wife did. Just try your best to be delicate. Good Luck!!

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 7:04PM
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esox07 (4b)

Yah, I could test with a couple, but if I take one container of each variety and put each individual seedling into a new container, I will have three of each variety going which is what I was planning on all along. But with only one seedling per container, losing one will put me behind my quota for that variety. But I will let you know how it comes out...probably tomorrow.
Bruce

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 9:09PM
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esox07 (4b)

Well, I pulled at least one container of each variety and split the seedlings into three separate containers with some MG Orchid Mix. The seedlings seemed to have good white root structure. We will see now and hopefully they will take off after getting past the transplant shock. I still have 2/3 of my old plantings together with the transplants and I will be able to monitor how they compare in their progress from this point forward.
Bruce

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 1:37PM
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tsheets(5)

Awesome! Looking forward to an update in a few days or so.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 2:58PM
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esox07 (4b)

Yep, I will update in a few days or so. I am also going to plant 5 or 6 more Sweet Banana Pepper seeds in a new container with the new soil and see if they sprout and grow normal under the otherwise same conditions as the old containers and transplanted ones.
I really want to be able to nail down the cause of the problem one way or the other. If the new seedlings wind up turning purple and drop their seed leaves prematurely then I will have to focus on lighting.
Bruce

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 3:51PM
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esox07 (4b)

OK, here is my update. Still, as of today, I have not lost even one seedling of all that sprouted which was a high percentage. But, they are all still mostly tall skinny things with tiny first true leaves and no seed leaves. As mentioned before, I transplanted several of the seedlings into MG Orchid mix which I used last year with good success. Those have just started to look like they are beginning to "GROW", unlike the one still in the old soil. I am cautiously optimistic at this point. While it does seem they are beginning to restart the growing process with the new soil, they are so very far behind now that it will be a tough season even if they do get into high gear. Also, the Orange Bell Peppers that I started in the original mix but later had turned purple like the others, were also transferred to the new soil. They still have their seed leaves and look like I may have moved them soon enough that they will keep them unlike the other seedlings.

On my last post six days ago, I noted that I stared some fresh Sweet Banana Pepper seeds directly into the MG orchid mix soil. As of today, non have sprouted. I expect to see something tomorrow or the day after. If they fail to turn purple and continue to grow at a normal rate without losing their seed leaves prematurely, then I will have my definite answer that it was the soil. But, I am already pretty confident that is the problem.

Wish me luck, a week from now, I should know 100% if it was the soil and I should know if the transplanted seedlings are indeed ready to break out of their slump and go on a growth spurt and save my season. Even if they do, I am down to very little room for further problems as I will have barely as many plants left as I want to end up with this summer.

Bruce

    Bookmark   March 14, 2012 at 1:12AM
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tsheets(5)

Thanks for the update, Bruce!

    Bookmark   March 14, 2012 at 10:19AM
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habjolokia

Hi Bruce,

I think the ones in the MG Orchid mix will bounce back and start taking off in the next week or two. But at least you have your overwintered one ahead of the game season wise, good thing your overwintered plants were a success. Keep us posted with updates.

Mark

    Bookmark   March 14, 2012 at 1:14PM
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esox07 (4b)

It was the soil, definitely. I took these photos last night after transplanting some of the seedlings to a different soil on March 8th.
Here is a container of Trinidad Scorpion Butch T seedlings still in the old soil.

Here is one of the seedlings that I transplanted just over a week ago.

Even with the transplant shock it is way ahead of the others but for a seedling that sprouted about 6 weeks ago, it is still woefully way behind. I just hope all the transplanted ones start grow at a normal to fast rate now. I have trashed all the ones still in the old soil.
Bruce

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 7:54PM
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tsheets(5)

Well, I guess you can try and find some solace in the fact that you got it sorted out before the season got away from you. :-) Lookin' much better!!!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 9:52PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Much better, indeed, Bruce.

Did you mention that the old soil was hardwood bark/mulch?
I'm wondering if there was serious nitrogen immobilization going on?
Had you done any fertilizing?

Josh

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 11:27PM
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esox07 (4b)

Josh: yes, it said hardwood mulch. I am not sure about nitrogen immobilization but I did add some diluted Foliage Pro 936 early on. But after I realized there was a problem, I had ceased with the ferts thinking maybe that was part of the problem. I had not used any ferts for about 4 weeks.

One thing though, When i watered, I did bottom up watering by dunking the containers in a bucket of water and letting it soak the soil. After a couple of containers, the water took on a dark ting to it. I figured it was tannins from the mulch. I am not sure it that was the issue or some other reason the mulch wasn't working for my seedlings. Seems the seedlings did great until they were forced to start relying on the soil for nutrients instead of the seed leaves. Then they just stalled out and soon after the seed leaves mostly died. So, it seems a lack of some nutrient could be the cause. I may never know but I do know I will go with something more tested next year. Probably just stick with the MG Orchid Mix as it seems to work fine for me on my seedlings.
Bruce

    Bookmark   March 18, 2012 at 3:50AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I'd stick with the Orchid Mix, too.

Hardwood mulch is no good for containers. Hardwoods don't have the high amounts of lignin and
suberin that are found in conifer bark, and so the hardwood/sapwood decomposes more rapidly,
compacts more rapidly, heats up as it decomposes, and binds Nitrogen as it decomposes. Could
also be root-inhibiting chemicals in the mulch, indeed.

Josh

    Bookmark   March 18, 2012 at 10:37AM
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esox07 (4b)

Josh,
Well, you are probably right and you know a lot more about the chemistry of soils than most. So I defer to your assessment of the causes for the lack of progress my seedlings were making in that soil. The only think I know for sure is that it only takes one thing to be out of whack to inhibit a pepper plant from thriving.

After I posted last, I got to thinking that maybe the PH is all out of whack on that stuff too. I never tested it. I have one of those testers but never took the time to use it. I may grab a sample and see what it tests out at. I am just glad I have gotten past that issue and I am hoping to see few if any more issues until I get these things to size and get them in their permanent containers.

So, I will report back what I get on the PH test and if that is OK then we can conclude that it is likely your Nitrogen/decomposition/binding/lignin/suberin thing. In the end, all that matters is I don't use that stuff any more. haha.

80 degrees again today, my little fellas get some more time outside.
Bruce

    Bookmark   March 18, 2012 at 10:54AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

80F degrees?!?! Ah, man, we woke to snow this morning! :-)

pH test is a good idea. I'll check back.

Josh

    Bookmark   March 18, 2012 at 1:50PM
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esox07 (4b)

PH meter said 7.1 to 7.2. It looks like the Orchid Mix is more like 6.8.

Regarding snow, yes, we have a better chance of snow this time of year than we do temps in the 70's and 80's. We are getting temps 40 degrees above normal for mid March. And we have been way above normal for weeks.
This is a picture from March 31st last year.


Bruce

    Bookmark   March 18, 2012 at 5:10PM
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esox07 (4b)

Well, It looks like my seedlings will make it past the soil problem after all. Nearly all of them lost their seed leaves long ago (except for the Butch T's). But they evidently had enough of a start on the true leaves to get by. It seems now that they are progressing at a normal rate and although later than I hoped, I should have them producing peppers in plenty of time to beat the first frost this fall.

Last update to this thread. I consider the problem resolved.
Thanks for all the advice and support.
Bruce

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 6:12PM
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habjolokia

Congrats glad it's all sorted out, now we can follow the growth and harvest of your peppers as well as the others. Good looking seedlings.

Mark

    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 7:28PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Well done, Bruce!
The seedlings have a good color now.

Josh

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 1:58AM
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esox07 (4b)

Yep, and I think they will all begin to thrive until the next malady presents itself. Glad i don't have those spider mites. I got my first introduction to aphids last fall. Damping off, sun burn, blossom drop. Long ways to go but at least I am on the road again.
Bruce

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 2:29AM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Congratulations Bruce! I have been following this thread, rooting for you and the peppers! Glad that they are back on track.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 11:03AM
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esox07 (4b)

Thanks to all for the encouragement and also to those who provided me with information and guidance in getting my season back on track. I am going to stop updating this thread. The next real update on my season will probably be in another thread dealing with a completely unrelated affliction to my plants. But, I am standing guard and ready for just about anything.
Bruce

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 1:47PM
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scotty66(8 Hutto TX)

as you may recall, i had the same issue with transplants having darkening leaves and slow growth. I originally blamed it on a rough-translplanting process.

I had a few more bhuts in peat pellets that took longer to sprout. so instead of digging the plants out of the pellets i pruned to just 1 plant and this time i used "miracle grow cactus soil" (oringally i used an dirt from a very old bag of scott's garden soil). On one pellet I kept two plants growing, just to see what would happen.

The difference is huge, the plants in miracle grow are larger than the orginals (which should me a full month ahead).

1 of the original transplants, still alive but very sad looking.

one of the new translplants

my 2 in 1 transplant

this was one of my first transplants. only 1 plant sprouted in the pellet so i put the whole pellet in the scotts soil. at first it looked great but now it's starting to darken.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 7:58PM
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esox07 (4b)

Scotty66:

Hmmmm, that does look pretty reminiscent of my problem. That Bhut in the bottom picture as well as the top photo looks a lot like ground up "Wood" which is what my stuff was made out of. Coincidentally, both of those are the ones exhibiting the darkening of the leaves. The problem my plants were having was clearly the soil. I transplanted them all to an Orchid Mix and within a couple days they took off and the darkening is all but gone. I also started a brand new container of Sweet banana pepper seeds in the orchid mix and they are doing great with no darkening of the seed leaves or emerging true leaves whatsoever.

Did you bottom water your plants (meaning you basically set them in a bucket of water and let the water soak from the bottom up)? If so, did your water begin to darken like a cup of tea after watering a couple containers. Mine did. But it stays clear with the orchid mix. I think there were tannins in that wood. Anyway, my advice is to get your seedlings into some more main stream growing medium asap.

When I transplanted mine after 40 days, most barely had a set of true leaves. Some were barely visible and most had lost their seed leaves already. As soon as I put them in good soil, they began growing normal. They have made more progress in the last two weeks than they did the previous 5 weeks.

Bruce

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 8:24PM
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scotty66(8 Hutto TX)

For some reason I thought it was miracle grow "cactus mix"... but now i realized you used "orchid mix".

Mine seem fine in the cactus mix, but I wonder what the difference.

The cactus mix is pretty expensive (for the size of bag).

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 10:56PM
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esox07 (4b)

Not sure, but if you got something that you know works, stick with it. It isn't worth the risk...I wasted a good 4 or 5 weeks almost lost my whole grow.
Bruce

    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 12:03AM
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