Help, suggestions, am I on the right track

habjolokiaMarch 11, 2014

Every year I've used the same mix, this season I could not find MG orchid mix non course blend so I subbed with MG cactus mix then mixed in with that MG Organic choice. The seeds sprouted fine, some made it to first set of leaves others to a second set. My cross of Ghost/White Hab has made it to three sets of true leaves but all others have stopped, its been at least a month of no growth. All plants except the cross has turned yellow. I know I am not overwatering.

As a test, I got another bag of soil organic and tossed in perlite and left out the cactus soil, repotted 1/2 of the peppers in this new mix and the other 1/2 I am leaving in the same soil and giving them a weak dose of fertilizer.Is this what you all would have done?

Is cactus soil a bad idea for peppers even though I mixed it with MG organic choice?

Any suggestions or ideas to get my plants back on track is appreciated.

I wish I hunted the correct mix as previous years that worked, instead of being impatient and just grabbing what I thought would be a good substitution.


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My first impression is food. Either you aren't using enough or it is the wrong kind. Assuming you have sufficient lighting, try an organic nutrient with more P & K than N. Peppers do not like high nitrogen. I use a 2-4-4 starting week 3 or 4. Using organic nutes makes it much more difficult to burn or overfeed. As a starter I use 80% perlite and 20% coco or peat. I prefer to avoid starters with food as I want control of that factor from the start. In the beginning I used MG starting mix and never had a problem. I stopped using it because of the high water retention resulting from too much peat. Roots like oxygen, more perlite is better with peppers. Hope my opinion helps

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 11:03AM
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I might have read this wrong but I don't ever hear of people giving their fresh sprouted seedlings fert. I let them do their thing until the second pair of true leafs are out. I wouldn't neccicariyly say peppers don't like high nitrogen. Nitrogen is what helps them build cell structure and gives em some green. Too high of nitrogen will cause problems though. Once your into bloom is when you want to feed them higher in p or k.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 11:26AM
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esox07 (4b)

My suggestion is to get them all out of the MG cactus mix into a proven soil. I struggled with a similar problem two years ago and as a last resort, I finally replanted and then it all turned around. My seeds germinated fine, grew to just starting a set of true leaves and just quit growing. Then the seed leaves started dropping. I tried a couple fixes but realized it was my soil (or possibly something in the soil) and repotted. After about a week, they took off and I narrowly averted a failed season of growing as I was already over a month into the season.
If you can find the orchid mix, that should be fine, if not, just get a good commercial potting mix and add some perlite if it has a very high Peat content. Some pine bark if you have any would be good too. But I would get them into new soil fast. Any commercial potting soil should have basic nutrients already in it so don't add any ferts until the plants get established in the new soil.

This post was edited by esox07 on Tue, Mar 11, 14 at 21:46

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 12:37PM
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True, seedlings dont NEED nutes if they're planted in cheap store-bought MG or some other crap, but if a proper medium is used they certainly need them after the first week. As a commercial organic grower in the southwest desert, I amend my fields with only phosphorous in the beginning (as do ALL large producers who deal with the typical southwest deserts native to the pepper which has a low presence of N). This is because peppers NEED it more than nitro at the seedling stage. I realize most people simply buy seed starter which already contains nutes but you cannot group ALL veges the same. Sure, theyll grow with average results and most average growers will never know the difference, but the fact is unlike many vegetables, peppers need twice as much P than K in the beginning. So yes, PEPPERS DONT LIKE HEAVY N. If you mix your own starter, and you should because its cheaper and gets better results, you will need to feed your plants after just a few days, just like hydro growers. I realize most just buy starter medium (which contains nutes), but that is also why most people think seedlings dont need to be fed for weeks. During fruit stage, more N is needed NOT PHOSPHOROUS (contrary to generic gardening beliefs) for mature peppers to continue producing enough for a 2nd and possibly 3rd harvest. Moruga man is spraying the same old misinformation you'll find on the web, Nitrogen is not a "vegetative" phase necessity with peppers. Which is why my yields of organic peppers are twice that of the hobbyist. Tomorrow Ill be tilling 600 lbs of phosphorous into 3 acres of low nitrogen clay as I have for years, and I wont be adding N until harvest. Come on out some time and check it out.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 9:21PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

My take is this, but be warned, I haven't considered the question for long and I'm not an expert in the first place. :)

The seed lives off its internal nutrient package at least until the cots deploy, and possibly until the first leaves. Then they depend on the roots that should have grown. The fact that yours stopped about that point means either that root development sucks (something you surely would have noticed during transplant) or that the soil chemistry either a) has no nutes or b) is not allowing the plant to take up what nutes are present.

Just for experiment I'm fertilize some and move (bare root) more to a known friendly soil, even if it isn't what you plan to grow out in.

Good luck,

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 6:28PM
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esox07 (4b)

Yah, DMForcier makes a good point. you could move some and keep some as is and just try a fert. If you have spare plants to experiment with, that is good, but if not, I would move them all to some nutrient rich fresh soil.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 10:08PM
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Thank you all for the advice and suggestions. When I transplanted 1/2 the peppers, the roots look good for the size, they even reached to the bottom of the cup.


The 1/2 that was repotted greened up no longer yellow and new tiny leaves are producing.

The 1/2 that I left in the same soil conditions that I gave a weak dose of ferts took to that and are no longer yellow.

I think no nutes were in the soil, the bags available were outside looked to be from last year and frozen when I originally purchased or if from this year the outdoor conditions and bitter cold froze them and probably spent any added nuts out into the ground.

I will see how they do over the next week and if both are doing good I will keep it the way it is, if they start doing poorly I will repot the remaining.


    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 5:13PM
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Good to hear Mark. I took a look at the ingredients of some cactus mix yesterday whilr I was at Lowe's and the stuff seems to be made with pretty decent components.


    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 7:51PM
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They bounced back, the smaller one you can still see a bit of the yellowing on the bottom leaves while the new growth is green the whole plant used to be yellow, the larger seems to have taken well to the weak fertilizer shot.

Just glad to have the peppers back on track for the season.

Kevin- I think the lack of ferts when using the cactus mix with some MG Organic choice that was not of good quality most likely an old batch that was weathered. Though I am not sure about the sand in the cactus mix and the top 1/2 inch dries out so fast it remindes me of peat it soaked real fast and rapidly dries so its not a good indicator of the overall dampness of the soil below as I saw when I repotted 1/2 of them. Though the peppers in both mixexs are now working I don't think I will use cactus mix again.


    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 8:02AM
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Some of my new seedlings are starting to experience the same symptoms. I started in some MG seed starting mix and moved to some pro-earth after the 2nd set of leaves just started. The 4th to 5th leaves are just now starting to come in a little yellow and more rough than the previous ones.

I was thinking ferts, so I'm glad that seemed to help the ones you added it to since I'm going to be doing the same this weekend.

BTW, just curious what kind of ferts you're using.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 11:37AM
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TechnoChimp general MG tomato fert with micro nutes and diluted using the smaller scoop spoon provided with the MG, looks to be a 1/2 teaspoon to a full teaspoon in size if i had to guess and I mixed it with 2 gal of water.

Normally I use Alaska fish fert but have not picked it up yet, as normally with my original mix I don't need to add ferts until they go outside.


    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 12:16PM
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The small scoop provided in the MG ferts is 1/2 tsp.


    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 12:40PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Very good! Back on track!
Most Cacti mixes are predominantly peat-based, so your suspicion is correct. To check moisture, stick a toothpick into your containers....granted, that might be a lot of toothpicks! :-)


    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 5:16PM
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Hi Josh, thanks for the info, should have known peat, it's good but too much is a dangerous combination for peppers, yeah lots of toothpicks or a wooden skewer :) I am looking forward to the results from my cross as well as the Manzano.


    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 5:22PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Posted by nightcrawler46 (My Page) on
Tue, Mar 11, 14 at 21:21

True, seedlings dont NEED nutes if they're planted in cheap store-bought MG or some other crap, but if a proper medium is used they certainly need them after the first week. As a commercial organic grower in the southwest desert, I amend my fields with only phosphorous in the beginning ...


Very interesting NEW concept to me. Is this also true during the growth season, or just for the seedlings ?

I had been hearing for ever, before that all you need is the so-called ALL PURPOSE fertilizers with a 1-1-1 ratio (like 10-10-10 ;; 16-16-16 etc).
Then we are told that the plants (in general) do not need nor use NPK at equal ratios. They (the proponents) say that what we need is a fertilizer with a 3-1-2 ratio (like 18 -6-12, 12-4-8 etc). So the latter has now become the new ALL PURPOSE fertilizer.

Now what "Nightcrawler.." is talking about is totally new to me. That goes at 180 degree opposing to the current practice And phosphorus becomes dominant nutrient ( at least for peppers )

Has there been any scientific university study about this PHOSPHORUS issue ?

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 4:22PM
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Yes.. there's always confusion. In a soilless container mix, 3-1-2 is sufficient as far as MY experiences.

I treat my ground much differently though and somewhat like nightcrawler. In with the copious amounts of compost and BONE meal(P) well in advance to transplanting. Then, right at transplant, I also add some cottonseed, feather, or blood meal(N) and some kelp meal(K). The reasoning behind this is that bone meal takes quite awhile to be broken down and available. The other meals are slow release also(but not nearly like bone), except blood; but at transplant there's plenty of all 3(and micros) from the already broken down compost.

After each main harvest, I'll add some more of each so my soil is perpetually(year round) breaking down the meals. Same thing with adding more compost and mulch.

Your location and conditions will vary. Down here, the soil never really gets so cold that microbial activity comes to a halt.


    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 12:42PM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

Note that Nightcrawler said he's dealing with "typical southwest deserts native to the pepper." And the discussions of using a 3:1:2 fertilizer in the Container forum are directed toward those who grow in a soilless mix in a container. Apples and oranges. If you're growing in the ground, it's a good idea to get a soil test to see what your particular soil needs. There are very few places in the US that require the addition of a lot of phosphorous.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 2:50PM
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