Scorpion peppers were looking decent, until now

Bob.Jackson(6)August 5, 2014

Hi again everybody,

A while ago I had issues with the leaves on my moruga scorpion plants becoming contorted. After laying off all ferts for about a month (except for one plant that I continued giving Cal-Mag to as a test), they all seemed to sort themselves out. Of course the some leaves still look crippled, but the new ones looked mostly OK.

About 2 weeks ago one plant in particular started having the lower leaves turn yellow, with some greenish areas still left on the leaves. This plant was in a self watering container, so I didn't worry much about it. Now, in the last week it has started dropping a couple leaves every day. And now a couple of my other scorpion plants are starting to look like they are doing the same thing.

I've attached a couple pics of the dropped leaves, one of the worst looking plant, one of some plants that look decent, and one more of the best looking plant.

I have not given them anything for about a month, except for about a half-inch layer of worm castings about a week ago (the problem was existing before this). They have all had the ame watering and ferts before, and were planted in a peat moss, vermiculite, compost mix.

They get about 8 hours of early-morning to mid-afternoon sun. There are some holes in the leaves, which are likely from the earwigs I have seen on all my plants (the beer traps I read about on these forums work great!)

All of the plants have started developing the beginning of flowers, so I'm hoping that this extra energy output is killing off a few leaves. If not, is there anything I can do to minimize this problem?

Thanks again to everybody for the help.

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Hi Bob,

If you read another recent post of mine this is going to sound like I'm a broken record.

An educated WAG (wild ass guess) here (I've experienced a similar issue in the past and as recently as this season).

"If" you over fertilized with water soluble commercial ferts, the nutrients are all salt base chemicals. As such, it's easy to build up potentially deadly concentrations of salt residue on roots that not easily removed by regular watering. The easiest remedy, easier than digging the plant up and rinsing the roots directly before re potting, is to thoroughly flush the growing medium/roots in the pot with straight water. I'm talking about letting the hose run for 10+ minutes.

Like I said, just a WAG. Others may have a better diagnosis/solution.


    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 10:05PM
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It's not a wild ass guess Bill. This is one reason why I don't trust SWC's. First, fert build up. 2nd, with peppers in particular, overwatering.

Bob: worm castings are great, but don't expect to get what you need out of them in a container mix. if that's all you're feeding it, switch to an All-purpose synthetic for your containers.

As bill mentioned, give a good flush first though.


    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 11:00PM
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The only ferts I have used have been:

Half strength seaweed extract every watering for the first month of so, but haven't used it in the last month.

Half strength fish emulsion once a week, but not in the last month.

Cal-mag a couple of times, but not in the last month

Half the recommended amount of worm castings, once about 6 weeks ago and once about 1 week ago.

Half amount of bonemeal, about 6 weeks ago.

A few sprayings of weakish epsom salts over the past 2 months.

Some crushed up eggshells about a month ago.

I haven't fed the plants really at all for over a month, and even before that I was under the impression that the stuff I was giving them was fairly safe.

The issue wouldn't be a lack of nitrogen would it? And hopefully not tobacco mosaic virus.

I will flush the plants if needed, but it's been so long since I've given them anything.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 12:13AM
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It looks like damping off to me. I am no pro but I think? pete moss and compost would retain a LOT of water and require a LOT of perlite (haven't tried vermiculite) to give the roots the oxygen that these plants seem to need. Have you tried letting your soil dry out a bit more than usual? How often do you water the ones that aren't in the self watering pot?


    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 12:53AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Yes, the issue would be lack of least for the plant with the paling lower leaves. That's a classic sign of underfertilization. As soon as I see one or two lower leaves yellowing, I know I'm a couple days late fertilizing.


    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 1:52AM
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When it comes to watering, I dig my finger about 1-2 inches into the soil to see if it's dry. It it is, I'll water until it's coming out the bottom of the pot. I'm usually watering every 2nd or 3rd day.

The days here are quite dry and hot. It's an average of 85-95 degrees here, with humidity of around 30-45%

I was thinking about using some fish emulsion again, for the nitrogen (it's 5-1-1). But will using something like that while the plant is flowering cause the flowers to drop off? That was my concern, otherwise I would have already given the plant some nitrogen. Other than the 5-1-1 fish emulsion, I don't have any other high nitrogen ferts (just tomato ferts and bonemeal). Oh yeah, I also have a 4-4-4 organic alfalfa meal fert, which I used a couple times much earlier on.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 4:51AM
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jutsFL(9b (Orlando))

I'm with Josh on this one, it appears to be a lack of nitrogen. Mine will start to look the same when I get lazy and don't give them the 1 to 2 week MG hit. A few days after the MG application and mine are back in business - the yellowing diminishes in a slow but uniform fashion. I have the same problem when it rains excessively here in FL, it washes out all my ferts and I come into the same issues.


    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 5:27AM
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After hearing what you've been using, I go with under fertilizing also. Still doesn't mean that salt build up can't occur, especially in a SWC. So, a flush is still fine, but I would go get some Miracle Gro All-purpose 24-6-16 and give a full strength feeding, and then after that, switch to half doses weekly.. That and the calmag, and you should be good to go.

Organic ferts , like yours, are great. But, they're too difficult to control throughout the season in smallish containers.

Also, you may want to stay away from vermiculite for peppers in the future. It simply holds on to too much moisture.


    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 11:11AM
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I guess I need to fertilize tonight. I am having a lot of leaf yellowing and drop the last few weeks.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 11:38AM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

When you say self-watering containers, do you mean the ones with the attached under trays? Those are not recommended for outdoor plants as they tend to hold a low water table, drowning all the roots that penetrate to that level, forcing the plant to grow in a much shallower pot than it appears from the outside.

Depending on the soil, sticking your finger in 1-2" may not tell you enough about the amount of moisture available to the plant. It may be dry up high and dripping at the bottom. Wait until the plant starts to wilt and then you will know that it is thirsty. Couple that with a wooden skewer test or moisture meter (about $4) and you will get a good feel for when to water.

At this point, take any under tray off and flush. Then hit with fish guts or MGAP, as suggested.


    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 12:07PM
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Dennis, that is the type of self watering container I have. I bought two a few years ago and still have them around, but now I only really use normal containers with holes drilled out in the bottom. I'll flush them today and see what happens.

Thanks again to everyone for the info.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 3:20PM
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