Blossom Drop? Or am I just a little too anxious??

esox07June 2, 2011

Well, I have great looking plants putting out a lot of blooms but no pods are developing. I know there are tons of threads regarding blossom drop and i have scoured most of them. Still, I am unsure of the reason for my problems. Actually, I am not seeing the blossoms drop as much as just browning up and withering after a few days. Weather here has been horrendous too. A week and a half ago, we had a freeze warning. Then less than a week later, we hit 90 degrees. Tomorrow another 90 degree day. And on top of this for the last 4 or 5 days, almost constant 20 mph plus winds. The plants are taking the wind in stride but they are just not producing. Two days ago, I watered them with MG general purpose fertilizer. It is relatively high in Nitrogen so I thought that could be part of the issue however, from the time I stopped snipping buds a week and a half ago I had no fruit and had not added any of the MG fert up to that point. I also rewatered today to try to flush the MG fert out. I have tried to help the pollination by shaking the blooms and branches but the last several days, that seemed pretty redundant with all the wind. Of the major factors: 1) too much nitrogen 2) Wind and temp extremes 3) lack of insects and natural pollination vectors, I am thinking #2 is the main culprit. I just figured I would get a few pods anyway with all the blooms. Some of my plants have two or three dozen at any one time and have had for more than a week now. Up until the time I got them into their summer containers, I had been snipping buds and blooms and even several small pods that I missed. I even had a few pods when they were strictly under grow lights in the house. Now that I finally got them out in the wild, I can't even get one. I am so frustrated.

Another issue is that the blooms on my Habanero and my Bhuts don't seem to be as big and bright white as the other varieties. Is that normal? Other than a Cayenne and a Habanero last year, this is my first year of growing Peppers.

Here are some pictures to show what I mean. The first two photos show how the blooms just brown up and die off but are not necessarily falling off prematurely.

Now this photo is of one of my Bhut Jolokias that shows that I have plenty of blooms and new buds, but they just don't seem to be setting fruit.

I take it back, I do have a new pod. I found it while taking the photos. I is my first of the year and gladly it is one of my Bhut Jolokia's. I am feeling better now and I hope this becomes a trend.

Oh, one more question, it seems like all my blooms, on all varieties of my peppers seem to point downward. Is that normal? The open blooms all seem to be facing straight down.

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Spongey600

MAN, i wish mine looked like that! i always hear that they will hold as many pods as they can, so maybe some of the others will pod up! keep us updated!

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 7:10PM
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habjolokia

Hi esox07

Your plants are doing great, if you notice in the first pic the browning of the flower there is a green nub that's the pepper. That's the norm the flower browns and dies and usually the pepper emerges from the middle. I had an issue with pepper output, I figure since my area does not have a high availability of insects. I used a cotton swab pulled the tip out some to make a gentile cotton makeshift insect and swabbed each flower, I feel that helped also worked for my tomatoes last year. Good luck and no need to worry those are Awesome plants you got!

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 7:23PM
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esox07

Well thanks guys. I guess maybe I am just getting a little anxious. After you nurse these things half the winter and you grudgingly snip blooms (and baby peppers) until you can get them outside and into their permanent homes you feel like it should be ready and raring to go 100mph. Plus up here in zone 4, I dont have as long a growing season as some do. Thanks for the advice and encouragement and I will be sure to post a followup in a week or so.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 9:48PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

No problem at all!

Blossoms always drop at the beginning of the season.
Your plants are ahead of schedule!

Josh

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 9:49PM
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esox07

Josh: Hi:
Glad for all the good progosis. But these suckers have been blooming for a couple months and even more. I was snipping blooms back in early April. I have even aborted pods since April 20th. I think that was a cayenne. Or maybe when you say "beginning of the season" you mean the real outdoor growing season??? One interesting thing is that my two Banana pepper plants havent put out any blooms yet since being put outside. They produced nice blooms since mid April while in the house under grow lights. They do look very healthy and strong and the buds look very healthy too although they are not quite as plentiful as my other varieties. They just haven't opened yet but look like they are really close. All my other plants continued to bloom right through their transition to outside.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2011 at 10:34PM
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willardb3

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.
    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 7:46AM
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tsheets(5)

Patience. They look great, don't freak out. Just let them do their thing.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 9:37AM
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esox07

Alright guys. I will back off a little. But just one more question: Is it time yet?

I had to stick that in there. Sorry.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 10:55AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Willard's list is right on, as always ;-)

Josh

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 12:04PM
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Joe1980(5)

I feel your pain esox. I live in Mayville, WI, so obviously I am dealing with the same weather. It's frustrating, because if it's not cold out, its blazing hot, or super windy. My jalapenos have been taking a beating from the wind too. Anyways, mine has the same symptoms as yours, with the flowers browning out and dropping. I was concerned at first, until I noticed the little green bulb, which as mentioned, is the start of a pepper. I just have problems with birds digging in the pots, and something occasionally munching on the leaves, but very minor.

Joe

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 5:11PM
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esox07

UPDATE:
Thanks to all that replied and provided information, suggestions, and comfort when I thought my efforts over the last 4 months might have been in vain.

Well, it looks like I was stressing for no reason. I have found at least one baby pod on each of my pepper plants except for my two Banana Peppers. I think they went dormant due to the transplant. Now they are just starting to open buds into very big, very white blossoms. My Bhuts are experiencing some blossom drop but I think that was mainly due to the continuous high winds and temps over the last week or so. Joe1980 can attest to that. But each of my three Bhut's has at least one little pepper now and they have tons of buds just waiting to open up so that is looking good to. The weather seems to be moderating a bit but still higher than normal temps in the mid and upper 80's but at least the 20-30mph winds have ceased. I am looking for much better pollination rates in the coming days.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 6:57PM
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sjetski(6b NJ)

Here in zone 6b i'm still snipping flowers and small pods trying to get my plant sizes larger. Once they grow and branch out more fully i'll let them do their thing. Only a good sized plant with a large root system, wih the right soil of course, has the power to pump out serious pods. It's hard remaining patient, but after doing this for many years you tend to acquire some.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 7:28PM
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esox07

sjetski:
Yes, I know I am too anxious. However, I started these boys since mid January and they had been putting out blooms and even pods for two months already. I decided against continuing of snipping blooms after I got them in their summer homes because they are already good sized plants and looked like they took to the transplanting in good shape. My growing season will end quite a bit sooner than yours too.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 11:00PM
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sjetski(6b NJ)

Good point esox, i bet your plants are larger than mine, and of course your growing season is shorter.

Starting in January/February was an excellent idea in your case. I bet you have a decent head start over your friends/neighbors.

I'm gonna bet that with your final crop, late august or early september, you'll have more pods than you know what to do with ;)

    Bookmark   June 5, 2011 at 4:28PM
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esox07

sjetski: Yes, i believe I am ahead of most in my area. I also think I probably started a bit too early also. I was snipping buds and blooms over two months ago. Next year, I think I will wait until around mid February. Again, I was a bit anxious. But this is my first year growing from seed and I didn't know what to expect. I was worried that growing these hot peppers up north where they are normally not native would be tough. Time will tell but I still think I am ahead of where I need to be. But I definitely think these plants are mature enough to handle fruit right now. My Bhuts look like good plants with tons of buds but while I am getting some pods, I am still experiencing more blossom drop that I would like. And I pretty sure that was a result of the very hot windy conditions we had here all of last week. The wind has died off but now they are talking more extreme heat and then a dive in temps after a few days. I can't blame these plants for being confused.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2011 at 6:20PM
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sjetski(6b NJ)

That is some strange weather, i'd blame it on being a La Nina year but what the heck do i know. I had larger seedlings outside in their trays when the nights here in NJ were still 40f. While they were protected from wind in their plastic greenhouses they pulled through just fine. Those 40f nights would transition to 65-70f days by the way, so that's nearly 30 degree shifts.

I imagine temps stabilizing this month, and move on to straight heat during July and August. Us northerners will then be harvesting our final pods in September, maybe even October if we get an indian summer this year.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2011 at 9:16PM
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esox07

I fully expect to harvest my first peppers by early to mid August. Some varieties may take a bit longer but our growing season for peppers will probably be about done by mid to late September. By the end of september, the average lows are 42 degrees. I have a cold frame that I can prolong my Bhuts a little while if they dont get too big but the others will probably be done by late september. By the end of August, I plan to hit this forum to find out exactly what I need to do to winter one or two plants. It seems like a fun idea as long as it isn't too involved. I have seen a lot of talk on it but haven't really gotten into the meat of the conversations to find out the whole process.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2011 at 9:35PM
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esox07

Happy to say my Bhuts are doing nicely and all three plants are putting out nice pods right now. Some pods are pushing two inches already. I have several pods on all my plants. One plant in particular is putting out some great pods both in size and quantities but I am still experiencing a lot of blossom drop. I guess it doesn't matter a whole lot since I am getting a lot to pollinate too. If nearly all of them were fertilized and put out pods, I would have over a hundred per plant by now. Still it bothers me that so many are dropping unfertilized. My other peppers are getting much better fertilization rates but they are in individual containers. The weather has gone from sunny with mid and upper 90's a couple weeks ago to wet and 60's the last couple weeks. So, I would guess that the weather has something to do with it and my Bhuts get more shade than the container peppers. We have sun and mid to upper 70's on schedule starting late this week going into next week. I hope that changes things. I am planning on bagging a couple branches on my Ghost pepper plants to ensure purity in seeds that I can use for trade and for myself next spring. If anyone knows how to decrease the blossom drop, let me know.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2011 at 3:35PM
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willardb3

Hence no 11 on my list: 11. too much grower attention/anxiety.

Take a break, chile plants have been evolving for a long time without your intervention and they don't need much of it now.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2011 at 8:49AM
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tsheets(5)

That would be alarming to see all those buds lying on the ground. But, I bet you are right in thinking the weather has something to do with it.

Just make sure you bag the branch before any blooms are opened if you're going to save seeds for trade!

    Bookmark   June 22, 2011 at 10:03AM
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esox07

I bought some Tulle fabric and will be baggind a couple branches for next year's seeds.

I know I am to anxious and my poor plants probably sense it is so bad. I shouldn't complain, I have more hair falling out than they have blossoms dropping.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2011 at 10:03PM
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crimsontide92(8)

could someone explain to me what yall mean by bagging branches to save seeds? esox7, what is the purpose behind the tulle fabric? Sorry, my first year growing peppers and trying to learn everything i can!!

Thanks

    Bookmark   June 24, 2011 at 2:03PM
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esox07

My first year growing peppers to but after 5 or 6 months on this list, I feel like an old pro. No, not really, but I sure know tons more now than I did back in January. Bagging branches is the process or putting some kind of covering over a branch or section of branch to isolate it from outside pollination vectors (insects). The tulle fabric is very much like window screen but much lighter and pliable. The reason a branch is bagged and in turn isolated, is so that blooms are only allowed to pollinate themselves. This ensures that any pods that develop are pure, meaning they are not cross pollinated by any other species of pepper. It ensures that any seeds from these peppers should be pure and you dont have to worry about them growing up to be a hybrid of another pepper species. The alternatives are to ensure there is adequate distance between your plant and any other species of pepper which some say is anywhere from 300 meters to a mile. Bagging just a section of the plant is a much easier and convenient way to ensure purity.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2011 at 5:06PM
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