Tabasco too tall?

Graelin(Zone 8a)June 6, 2011

Hey folks, newbie here. I finally broke down and got myself a little tabasco plant to see if I'm capable of growing anything greener than dirt. I figure if it goes well, I'll buy myself a few more plants next Spring.

The little tabasco plant was in one of those biodegradable peat pots and was exceptionally tall, though a couple leaves were chewed and a couple others were twisted over. Still, in my mind, I thought taller = better.

I brought it home and stuck it in a 10" pot to start it off, sprinkled a little 10-10-10 in there, watered it and immediately noticed the little plant hardening-up nicely. I've only had it a couple days and it's already looking happier, plus the leaves have untwisted. But now I have some questions.

First, I've read that it's better to have a shorter, bushier plant. Should I snip the top off of my plant? If so, how far down should I go? It stands about 20in/50cm tall.

Secondly, I wonder if I should add bone meal. I've read that all pepper plants need quite a lot of calcium, and a deficiency shows in the form of wrinkly leaves, slow growth and low production. Mine doesn't look too wrinkly right now, but there is a sort of texture in the leaves. Should I add bone meal or do you think the 10-10-10 is enough for now?

Here's a pic of the plant for reference:

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Sow down with the 10-10-10 or you will be posting about flower drop. Chiles are not tomatos so don't use a lot of fertilizer.

You can prune if you want, but you don't have to if you have room.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2011 at 9:05AM
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I would not add much. Maybe a teaspoon full. Only add it when the plant tells you it needs it. My first year growing tobasco I hardly did anything except stick them in the ground. They both grew to almost 6 feet and where some of the hottest little peppers ever( and easiest to maintain in the Florida heat) . I never topped them off but if you do not top them you will need to stake them or something. I will say that in Florida I can't use those red clay pots. They dry out to quick. Good luck

    Bookmark   June 6, 2011 at 9:09AM
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Graelin(Zone 8a)

Thanks for the advice! For what it's worth, I added about 1/4 tsp of the time-release fertilizer, so maybe that won't be overkill.

I'll also remember that about the bone meal. 1 tsp sounds reasonable, and only if the leaves crinkle up.

If it doesn't really matter whether or not I prune the top, I'll just leave the plant as it is and stake it if it starts to droop.

My long-term goal is to keep this plant alive as long as possible. Maybe I'm over-thinking it right now, but I wanted to be sure of what to do.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2011 at 9:42AM
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I wouldn't worry with 'topping' it. How big is that pot? Looks pretty small for a full size pepper plant. I'd keep a transplanting backup plan handy. :-)

    Bookmark   June 6, 2011 at 11:40AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

In that size container, the plant will probably max out around three feet tall,
and nearly as wide. My Tabasco (in-ground last year) grew to about three and a half feet.
I agree with the others - go easy on the fertilizer, add if you see signs of deficiency.
And keep us updated ;-)


    Bookmark   June 6, 2011 at 2:24PM
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Graelin(Zone 8a)

Based on what you guys are saying, I went out and got a 5gal. Home Depot bucket. I'm thinking I might even rig-up a self-watering container (I have another bucket at my workshop). It looks easy enough to make, and as long as you don't fill it as high as you might with tomatoes, it seems like the pepper ought to do okay.

A buddy of mine has a nice vegetable garden he nurses every year from seed. Maybe I'll ask him to help me get the soil right.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 6:34AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Yessir, a 5-gallon will grow you a full-size pepper plant with a good harvest.


    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 1:07PM
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