Conservatory pepper growing

SgtPepperMay 20, 2012

I get mixed answers from googling this subject. I have several pepper plants (habenero) growing in my conservatory. It gets ample sunlight through the windows in the morning hours, but for the most part the sunlight is filtered through the ceiling. The ceiling is a plastic polycarbonate, but it maintains high brightness and it can get very hot in there. There is heating inside for cold spells.

Is this an ideal environment? Some say it is perfect for peppers. Others say more direct sunlight is needed.

So what's the straight dope? The peppers are so far growing steadily, even though we have had a rather damp and cool May. Nonetheless, I have noticed many buds starting to dangle all over the place. Even though I have these dangles, I am still skeptical about this environment.

We are supposed to be getting warmer temperatures in the next week, so I guess that will be the real test.

Anyone else grow peppers like this?

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As long as they get some hours of sunlight then it should be fine. I have an Anaheim growing in my window, the weather has been really poor for chilis, i.e. dull/rainy weather for over a month, yet this plant has several large chilis growing on it.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 6:48AM
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In general, the more light the better. Most modern windows block a significant amount of UV light. So, you may get buds, and you may even get peppers (or the buds may just drop), but, you would likely get more outdoors (assuming proper care). Indoors, you will need to help the plant with pollination. If you move it outdoors, it will need to be hardened off or it will end up scorched/sunburned.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 10:23AM
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I have some kung pao peppers growing at work it's in a glass 1/2 dome shaped entrance we call the atrium, they have at least 60+ peppers on each of them my guess is they get pollinated when we open the door and the suction of air or wind zipping in causes the pollen to shake lose. It works, though I prefer to grow them outside IMHO I think they grow better outside.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 10:59AM
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Thanks for the responses.

Since I can't depend on nice weather, I'll just have to tote the plants out for an afternoon sunning in rotation I suppose. If they do decide to flower, I would have a hard time pollinating them effectively because there are so many developing.

I know some people who do the q-tip method. And some say peppers can pollinate all on their own. This has never made complete sense to me because not many plants are capable - especially fruit type of plants. However, I could be persuaded perhaps to believe that they are copious pollinators requiring not much more than a tap. Even so, nothing in nature is so perfect as a bee for this job.

Anyway, I do get plenty of sun and they really are starting to take off as we head into the summer. So I hope I can relate my results from this experiment.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 1:46PM
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esox07 (4b)

Peppers can and do pollinate themselves. probably more so than being pollinated by others.

FYI: Before you throw your peppers out for an "afternoon" of sun, be sure to harden them off. Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight will sunburn indoor plant quite bad. Also, they will not be used to wind and even a 10mp wind might prove disastrous to your peppers. You need to "harden them off".

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 2:40PM
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I knew the conservatory gets hot, but I didn't expect a stretch of days where it is getting into the 90s in there. The plants seem stressed about it, but continue to grow well. The reason I say stressed is because they are drooping at the end of the day, but perk right back up overnight and seem ready to face another hot day's session.

Don't know whether this constant stress is good for the plants, but they don't seem to mind it (so far) as long as they have water.

Am I going to be in for a rude shock somewhere down the line?

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 6:43AM
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esox07 (4b)

90 is fine for most peppers. And just like when my plants sit through a day of upper 80's and 90's, they look half dead by 5pm. Two hours after the sun goes down, and it cools a bit, they look great. Don't worry about the wilting. It is natural. Many people grow peppers in climates (South West) and it gets well over 100 regularly. As long as the plants have moisture, they seem to do fine. Be careful not to over water though.

You could always put some kind of shade over your plants on very hot days.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 9:44AM
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Well, I have had my first set of buds that developed early last month drop off. I realize this is no time to panic, because the plant is still developing fine and new buds are coming in all the time.

Yes, I have bing and google searched this and also this has come up on the forum here before. The consensus seems to be too much nitrogen causes it OR over/under watered OR too hot. One other aspect that is frequently mentioned is, it is normal for the early buds to drop if you didn't pinch them off when they first came along. Which I didn't. I let the plants alone to do their thing.

People who I talk outside of this forum to tell me, just let the plants do their thing and stop babying them so much.

I don't think it is a nitrogen issue as I have only fed them once with the fertilizer. The only thing might be the heat. I have decided to vent the conservatory a little better to perhaps ease the temperature down just a few degrees.

During the hottest period of the day, it has peaked at 100�F and hovers around the mid to upper 90s. They are not in direct sunlight, but are getting filtered light (but very bright) mostly - so no chance of them getting sunburned. Temperature outside is nice around mid-70s, but I don't want to set them out just yet since they have gotten so accustomed to the hot environment.

Relative humidity is around 30%, which is on the dry side in there. However, at night that RH rises and the temperature at night seems to be mid to upper 60s.

Oddly, the plants themselves seem to like it, but if the bud dropping persists without flowering I would like to get this resolved before the growing season begins summering in earnest.

I might like to start the hardening off process a bit sooner than planned for if the flowering is resistant to the conservatory environment - I may not get any peppers.

Should I rush into this, or wait until mid-Juneish?

Or should I stop babying the plants and let them be - save a bit of watering once a week?

Can't help it, but potatoes and onions are so boring compared to peppers and tomatoes.


    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 11:03AM
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esox07 (4b)

Sgt Pepper:
Sounds like you have done some good research. High nitrogen can be a problem but in your case probably not.
First let me say that I think the best thing to do to get your plants going is to get them outside. Every year I get plants to bud, bloom and even fruit indoors but they really get going when I get them outside. That is where they belong. I wouldn't worry too much if they are dropping blooms indoors.

But if your climate isn't right yet, then try to keep the temps down to 80-90 in the daytime and if possible, raise the humidity up above 50. I would also introduce a fan to keep the air circulating in there. Have it blow directly on the plants, preferably one that oscillates. It will not only help with making the plant stems stronger but will provide a better environment for the plants while help reduce molds, fungus's and other afflictions while indoors. But it will also cause the aggitation that plants need to disperse pollen. That might help the blossom drop problem too.

Any time now that you can get them outside, even for a couple hours at a time would be great.

Use nutrients sparingly, get them outside whenever you can and while indoors, try to make the environment more like outdoors. Other than that, "stop babying them so much" is a good piece of advice.

Even outdoors you are prone to blossom drop issues. Last summer some of my plants had hundreds of blooms on each plant and the next morning I would go out the soil below would be littered with dropped blossoms. Nothing was setting. It was a very hot stretch and after a week or so, the plants started setting and I had pods all over the place. Some plants easily had over 100 pods on them at once. I didn't do anything except just let the plants decide when they were ready.


    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 11:29AM
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Another cause for blossom drop (particularly indoors) - they just didn't get pollinated. If everything else looks happy, I wouldn't discount that possibility. But, you're right, it's not uncommon and the usually best thing to do is let it be.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 7:44PM
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Still lots of buds, growth, buds, growth and yet no flowering at all. There are few, if any, bud stem drops lately, but I am getting impatient - which is the sign of a novice pepper grower. Okay, okay, I hold my hand up.

I know it isn't even June yet, but shouldn't I have at least something happening with all these buds everywhere?

It's like the plants are driving as fast as they can and I'm the obnoxious kid in the back saying, "are we there yet?"

    Bookmark   May 28, 2012 at 2:28PM
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esox07 (4b)

Sgt Pepper, is your weather still so bad that you can't get them out doors. I think they would respond if you could get them outside with some real sun, wind, and natural pollination vectors. What are your normal day/night temps for this time of year?

    Bookmark   May 28, 2012 at 3:29PM
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The lows outside are down to about 50F right now. I live in the North of England, and the weather can be very unsettled. The pattern this week from May 20 to May 28 was strong sun. Next week a pattern of clouds mixed with rain is forecast.

Inside the conservatory, I can keep the temperature up much higher, like room temperature, and it gets light all day.

So strong is the light that is filtered through the polycarbonate panels, that the plants have no trouble with growth.

I have taken your previous advice and carried the plants outside and placed them on the patio furniture for a couple of hours. The conservatory was topping 100F during the hot spell. Although the heat was blistering in there, the plants responded well to the higher intensity of filtered sun. The last time I gave them a drink was Sunday night (not too much) and once 5 days previous to that. So, I try to keep the soil moist, but not soggy.

While the soil has remained moist-ish, it is a little bit tepid because of the heat, but it's generally cool as one probes deeper into the soil of the pot.

My mother, the plant specialist, is convinced they will be loaded with peppers. She has no experience with peppers though. She has somehow managed to grow a lemon tree inside the house from a lemon seed that came from a lemon bought at the grocers. I think that's quite hard to accomplish, so she knows her stuff.

I will try to get them outside as much as I can as you have suggested. I am astonished at how hardy these plants are, suffering through such extremes of desert heat and the coolness of March when I sometimes didn't have the heat turned on in there. But the buds won't open just yet.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2012 at 4:05PM
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50F at night is better for setting pods then 90-100F daytime indoors. Sounds like too much heat is causing the drop. I would get them outside. I have a greenhouse done in Lexan and I have to harden plants off quite a bit in the transition from greenhouse to sun. But nothing grows peppers like pure sun. Get them out.

About lemons: I know people growing them next to a window. Peppers don't flourish in a window. Just because a lemon tree will grow in there doesn't mean the peppers will. Peppers like warm roots, but don't like to be cooked to produce pods. They just like light.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2012 at 4:20PM
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This is Newcastle UK btw

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 7:06AM
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esox07 (4b)

I would at least get them outside on days when it is going to be warm and sunny. Or at least just warm.

Yep, those temps probably won't kill your peppers but they probably wont thrive either.


    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 7:39AM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

Do you have a fan in the conservatory? Moving air seems to remind them that they're alive. It helps transpiration and conveys pollen.

I'd also starve your plants for water a little. Let them send out roots looking for more, and get used to a slightly harder life. These guys are tough and can take it.

Keep us posted, please!

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 10:07PM
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Flower drop probable causes:

1. Day temp too high >95F
2. Night temp too low 3. Too much nitrogen fertilizer
4. Too much water
5. Low light levels (reduces fertility).
6. Very low humidity (reduces fertility)
7. Poor air circulation (air circulation contributes to pollination).
8. Lack of pollinating insects.
9. Size of pot

  1. Too much mineral in feedwater.
  2. Too much grower attention/anxiety.
    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 8:47AM
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