bhut jolokia PH & more

xymox1April 20, 2010

I am starting my first bhut jolokia's.

I have read a lot here and elsewhere about soil requirements. I see conflicting advice on PH. It seems people are leaning towards a more acid soil. Like 5.5-6.5.. Is this correct ?

I am debating correcting my Miracle Grow Potting mix with some Aluminum Sulfate.

Im using the Luster Leaf 1601 Rapitest Soil Test Kit to check PH along with N-P-K... I did find a huge imbalance having excess P and K but way low N. I am now adding Alaska Fish Fertilizer to correct the lack of N..

Im growing these on my apartment patio and they get full sunlight for the first half of the day.

Im using large pots without a water trap on the bottom to let the water flow easily out and not create wet conditions for the plants. I understand dry is better ?

I have used some Bat Guano and some Bone Meal some time back.

I am also occasionally using "Chili focus" plant food.

Any suggestions ?

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Ive placed some photos of the young plants on my server.

I assumed this was fertilizer burn, but no, the testing showed I was WAY low on N..

They also appear to be growing VERY slowly..

Do the baby first set of leaves of this plant die and fall off normally ?

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 6:53PM
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Pic 2

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 6:54PM
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Maybe this is caused by a imbalance of too much P & K and not enough N in a 7.0 PH soil ?

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 6:56PM
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Is this a new potting mix? If so it probably doesn't need to be tested/modified. Your plants look fine but it sounds like you are overfeeding and worrying too much about them. How old are they? Peppers are very slow growing at first.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 7:27PM
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Well they are 4 weeks old. My concern is the color is more yellow then normal and the tips of leaves have gone brown and its first set of leaves died.

It was new potting soil 4 weeks ago.

Testing it shows N at very low levels and over abundance of P and K. The PH is 7.0 aprox..

My questions are

1) What is the correct PH for these plants ? This takes time to modify and I am starting a tad late, so I want to get this moving now if I need to go more acidic.

2) Can the sytmtoms I have seen, and visible in the photos, be caused by a high P,K and almost 0 N ?

Again, I want to stress I have tested the soil.

Yes, I am overly concerned. I want it perfect :)

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 8:17PM
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mister_al(zone 7)

Miracle-Gro potting mix shouldn't need any adjustments to grow a healthy pepper plant. I've planted seeds in it straight out of the bag and never had any problems.

The dying leaf tips on your plants are probably from watering too often. It's better for the plant if you let the soil dry out between waterings and then give them a good soaking.

I wouldn't suggest adding anything to the soil right now. Plants this small are fragile and can be adversely affected if you add too much of anything to the soil. More plants have been killed trying to make things perfect for them than by anything else I can think of.


    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 11:48PM
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I do let them dry out. I water every 3-4 days. Here in arizona we have 10% humidity and this really dries out soils quickly. Its also been close to 90 already during the days. The pots are open on the bottom so no water is held in the pot.

I have grown other peppers without issue. White Hab's, Reg Hab's, Thai sun peppers, Serrano, Jalapeños..

The soil test was quite a surprize to me as well. I tested twice. I got the soil sample from about 3 inches down. This issue is effecting my 2 newest pots.

I understand your concern about possibly killing the plants with misplaced kindness, but ive done this before and not had issues.

Would you say that a N 0 is a healthy reading for N using the kit ?.

My plan is to generally just water now. When they are dry. But I am still curious as to what a Bhut soil PH should be.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2010 at 2:34AM
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I have applied a healthy does of Alaska Fish Fertilizer. 24hrs later I think they already look better..

I am testing the soil again.. Just to be triply sure..

I am being fairly extreme with my testing procedures. Using a cleaned spoon and getting soil from about 3 inches deep. I do not touch the soil. I put it on a plate and let it dry out. I crush it down to a powder using cleaned latex gloves to prevent any stuff from my fingers from upsetting the results. This is recommend in the instructions. I use distilled water. I let the soil settle out in the water for 24 hours and then extract just the clear liquid for the 3 tests..

Ive never tested the Miracle Grow Potting Soil before. The specs of the soil don't call out PH. They do have a fertilizer rating for it tho. 0.21 - 0.07 - 0.14
See link below.. The Orchid Potting soil looks like what I should have used as its slightly acidic and has a rating of 5-5-5

The PH test is quick and indeed again shows a 7.0+ PH. Maybe even 7.3.. This is too high for the peppers I believe. I am going to add aluminum sulfate to reduce my PH down slightly to 6.5.

Again... Im not looking for conditions where the Bhut Jolikia's will grow, but what the ideal conditions are.

I was really surprized by the low Nitrogen levels of this soil. This is why I am retesting. P and K are at overabundance levels which i would expect from how I have treated the soil so far. The almost complete lack of N was unexpected..

Results from the tests later tonight...

Here is a link that might be useful: Potting soil

    Bookmark   April 21, 2010 at 2:14PM
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Bad distilled water...

I just got some real distilled water from a scientific supply store.. My soil PH is actually neutral.

I am doing the N-P-K test now with the real distilled water..

    Bookmark   April 21, 2010 at 3:37PM
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Well the seriously distilled water helped in the PH, but there was no change in the N-P-K.. Still Surplus P & K and no N...

It does make me wonder if the Luster Leaf test capsules for N are ok ? I assume so...

I have a soil testing place close by and I am going to send off some soil for testing... They charge $34 to test for "Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium, Potassium, Nitrate, Phosphate, Salinity, pH, Free Lime"...

I want to validate my results of the Luster Leaf test..

Nice this place does such inexpensive testing.
See link below..

Here is a link that might be useful: Soil Testing

    Bookmark   April 22, 2010 at 12:28AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I don't know much about specific pH requirements for Bhuts, but I do add a capful
of white vinegar to a gallon of water for plants that like acidic soil (namely conifers and maples).
I'm testing vinegar water on one of my Choc Hab's at the moment.


    Bookmark   April 22, 2010 at 10:35AM
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Keep us posted Josh.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2010 at 10:46AM
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@ xymox1: how did the laboratory soil test turn out? I am interested to know how it compares to the home test kit.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2010 at 2:56PM
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I started some bhuts from seed earlier this year, and they were extremely slow to start. After they grew for about two or three months, they took off and set fruit all summer long. I used organic Miracle Grow potting mix, and when the plant was covered in flowers and fruit, I gave it a little bone meal periodically. I finally prepared mine for overwintering last weekend so that I don't have to wait as long next year, so we'll see how that goes.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2010 at 10:07PM
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You paid $35 to test a $12 bag of soil.....
As a person who works in a retail garden store,
I can confidently tell you....

Home Soil tests are a sham. Theres all kinds of things going on in the soil. Nutrients are constantly being broken down and changing as time progresses. Especially with crappy miracle grow soil. Things like bone meal or granular fertilizers that dont break down for months.

Now that that rants said and out of my system.
Bhuts like a slightly higher PH.

I grow my Bhuts hydroponically. So by default I can tell you exactly where their sweet spot is, because Im adjusting their ph daily.

I started them at the general rule of thumb at 6.3. They didnt really take off for 5 months, and I couldnt figure out why. When I finally adjusted from 6.3 to 7.3, they exploded with growth.

Just let them do their thing. Bhuts take a very long time to get going. Once they're old enough, hit them with more nutrients.

Next time, dont buy miracle grow...

    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 3:28AM
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You are paying too much attention to a healthy plant.

The only thing that kills chile plants reliably is too much grower attention. Leave it alone, it wants to live.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 9:01AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Here's the a container, soil pH is far less important than in the ground.
What is important is the pH of the watering/fertigating solution. In the container,
pH is constantly changing, depending upon moisture levels, fertility levels, and temperature.
A lot of water in the U.S. is over 7.0 on the pH scale. Over time, minerals can accumulate
in the potting media, which causes the pH to rise - the so-called "alkaline creep." Eventually,
these excess solids might impact the ability of the roots to take up moisture and nutrients.

In a container, where a short fix is needed, white vinegar or citric acid (wine making supplies)
perfectly fit the bill. Just use enough vinegar to lower the watering solution to 5.0 - 5.8 or so,
record the amount required, and then use that same amount every time you fertilize or water.
The effects of vinegar are not long-lasting (like sulfur), but certainly stable enough to allow
the plants to get a good dose of nutrients at the time of application.

Do I think this is absolutely necessary? No.
But if you really want to fiddle with cultural conditions, modifying fertigating solution is a start.


    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 10:03AM
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Miracle grow potting soil tends to dry out easily and sounds like you might have more of an issue with your medium rather than acidity. Check with a local nursery on a better potting mixture for new starts. Also, you might want to go easy on the full sun as these can be harsh on new growth, and would benefit from more shade, with increased transition to more sun as plant acclimates.

Here in South Florida, while we have the heat/sun
intensity, we're fortunate to have lots of humidity which the bhuts really thrive on. You can leave some open water near the plant to create some extra moisture in air, as I would guess that the dry Arizona climate/soil dryness is probably more of an issue than your pH.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 8:39PM
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