Flowers but No Fruit on Peppers

bajajoaquin(10/San Diego)May 2, 2014

I posted over on the "growing under lights" forum, but there doesn't seem to be as much traffic over there, so I'm adding this one here, too. Sorry about the cross post.

It started with kidney beans, which flowered and produced beans. Those plants are still going, although stunted (pots are way too small).

I decided to add some variety and planted Serrano, Cayenne, and tomato seeds. The Serrano and Cayenne plants are now about 12"-18" tall and flowering, but do not set fruit. They each have a couple dozen flowers on them, and have been flowering for a couple months now, but no fruit has ever set. (The tomato plants were started later, and have not started flowering yet.)

The size of the yield isn't an issue for me. I know that I'm not going to maximize anything with the setup, but I do want to have some yield.

Anyone know why I'm not getting fruit? Is it hopeless with this level of lighting?

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What is your lighting setup. Low light can definitely be a problem but if you're getting flowers and the plants generally look healthy I'd suspect other factors.

I'm sure others will chime in but, "typically", lack of fruit setting can be caused by three factors.

1) Temperature. Very hot days (95+) and warm nights (75+) can inhibit fruit production.

2) Lack of pollinators OR poor to no air flow. The flowers need to be pollinated by either bees etc. or self pollination by movement (wind or shaking the plant) to move the pollen around.

3) Available nutrients are low in phosphorus. This can be further compounded by high levels of nitrogen.

Do any of the above sound familiar?

This post was edited by ottawapepper on Fri, May 2, 14 at 13:08

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 12:41PM
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They would most likely preform better once you get them outside, don't forget to harden them off. If you intend to only grow indoors under lights then as ottawapepper stated we would have to know your light setup and fertilizers you use.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 1:55PM
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stoneys_fatali(9b Duarte,Ca.)

Yeah, outside would be much better for setting IMHO.


    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 2:43PM
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Try pollinating the buds gently with a toothpick or Q-tip. See if you see any results.

This post was edited by kclost on Fri, May 2, 14 at 15:27

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 3:26PM
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I just looked for your post in Growing under Lights. You said:

In my office, I started an indoor garden with 2-48" double flourescent lights (that's 4 tubes). I have them on timers for about 13-14 hours of light daily. It's near a window, so it also gets a limited amount of natural light during the day. Lights are down within 1" of the tallest plants, and no more than 3" from the shortest.

Based on your post, IMHO, I would suggest you have two issues.

First, 4 fluorescent bulbs (T12, T8 or T5's) in an open area just won't cut it for the pepper plants you're growing. You could probably get away with a plant or two in a grow box setup with 4 flo bulbs though. In your situation you're going to need more light. For reference I use a 400 watt HID light for a 3.5 x 3.5 foot area when I'm growing a few plants inside.

Second, in a closed office location with little air movement germination is going to be tough. An oscillating fan on the plants would help.

As I said, just my humble opinion.


    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 4:55PM
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bajajoaquin(10/San Diego)


I had understood that peppers were self-pollinating, but the comment about airflow rings true. There is no airflow in my office at all. The only bugs are small gnat-like things, and one crazy-looking black bug with white-striped legs I found Monday morning when I came to work!

My beans flower and bear fruit, so I guess I expected my peppers to do the same.

As for the other points, it's in my office, so it is usually pretty close to 70 degrees. I don't know specifically about the nutrients, but I started with commercial organic potting soil, and mixed in about 25% with compost from home.

These plants will never be re-planted outside. I have a small garden at home, but the point of these is to have office plants, just a bit more than the typical potted plant.

I've included a picture of my setup, in case that provides any other information.

Assuming it's the air movement, how much do I need? A fan for a few hours? Shake them for a minute a day?

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 6:22PM
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bajajoaquin(10/San Diego)

I typed up my message over the last couple hours, so I didn't see the post by Bill (Ottawapepper). I'll see about adding an oscillating fan to the setup. And thank you for bringing forward the item about my setup. I forgot to add that to this post.

If air movement or shaking will bring on germination, I can live with low yield from inadequate lighting. I'm just growing peppers in my office for a lark, not trying to maximize output in my garden. But I do want to get over the threshold of "none" to "some."

This post was edited by bajajoaquin on Fri, May 2, 14 at 18:29

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 6:28PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

In zone 10, SanDiego (?) I would direct sow any and all beans that I want. But here in Seattle, I have sowed them in my cold frame. As soon as they emerge I will plant them out.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 11:05PM
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naturemitch(3/4 WI)

Just get a fan going. Most of my peppers will have flowers on them, and many have fruit when they get moved from the extra bedroom indoors to the greenhouse outside. Nothing special with lights, I have the same amount of light happening as you do. My guess is the airflow.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 1:11AM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

I think you need some chemical fertilizer with NPK and micronutrients. Compost doesn't do a very good job of feeding plants in containers. Anything that was there when you started has probably been used up.

I like the idea of growing peppers in the office. They are such attractive plants. When I had to move from an office with widows to an inside office, I got an Aerogarden. I've been growing herbs in it, but it is big enough to accommodate small pepper plants, so I think I'll try those next.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 3:43PM
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bajajoaquin(10/San Diego)

Thanks for the advice, folks. Since I didn't have a fan at work on Friday, I decided to give the plants a good shake. It paid off! There's only one pepper this morning, but that is more than the zero that were there before!

It's a Serrano. The Cayenne hasn't yet set a fruit.

I'll see about getting an oscillating fan set up on my timer system. I think I can run them in series: Power strip for the lights on a 14-hour timer, and then plug in the fan timer for a more limited time on top of that.

How much time do you think I need? Hour? More?

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 11:05AM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

That depends on how strong the fan is. But for my indoor setup I had a small fan going 24/7. Oscillation not required.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 3:11PM
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bajajoaquin(10/San Diego)

And a quick follow-up.

Thank you all again for the advice. As I mentioned, shaking the plants resulted in my first pepper last weekend. I grabbed an unused fan, and set up my timers in series (my power strip goes into a timer set for 14 hours, and then my fan goes into that, so it's on periodically during the day). This is perhaps more complex than it needs to be, but what the heck.

Anyway, both the Serrano and Cayenne plants have fruit visibly setting now.

I have clients coming into town next week, and they were here last when the peppers were just seedlings. It will be fun for them to see my office plants with a kick.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 12:26PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Last winter I started some Shishito real early (In Dec.) They grew, flower and fruited, Probably I harvested near 1/4 lb peppers from 2 plants. Then I cut them way back. They re grew and fruited again they are outside in bigger pots. All this time i did not even have a fan. The same happened later with my Hungarian HW, Black Pearl. All this time I was fertilizing with week 24-8-12 liquid fertilizer. AND I was using T8 FL., with 6500k tubes. Those light performed excellently. My tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, All did very well.

So all I can say is that : You have to be patient. It also depend on the pepper variety.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 2:06PM
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Congrats on the new babies ;-)

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 4:26PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Congrats, indeed.
And great advice from Bill and the rest.


    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 7:52PM
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