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Pepper seedlings not growing tall

Posted by snappybob SaTexas Zone 8 (My Page) on
Tue, Mar 19, 13 at 13:21

I planted some pepper seeds right into the seeding mix in a 1020 flat. As soon as they had a set or two of true leaves I transplanted them into the little peat pot type egg carton looking things called 'Ferti-pots', thirty plants to a 1020 flat. As long as I keep them watered they stay healthy but they don't grow a long stem. They just sit there short. They have been in these Ferti-pots for at least a month in the green house. I first started feeding them some liquid seaweed and when that didn't help I switched to diluted MC. They need to go into the ground soon if not yesterday but they are just too small to plant in the ground. Is there anything I can do to make them take off and start growing?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Pepper seedlings not growing tall

Do you have pictures? How small is small? when did you start the seed?

You also might want to post on Hot Pepper forum (they will answer your questions even if these aren't chile peppers, there is no general pepper forum).

I suspect that they're too dry, if these Fertipots are peat pots, since you mentioned having to keep them watered. How warm is the greenhouse (incl. at night)?


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RE: Pepper seedlings not growing tall

Are they warm enough? Heat with appropriate light , plus fish emulsion usually pushes peppers if everything else is good. I have never tried kelp alone.

Maybe they are still in transplant shock?

Soil PH?


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RE: Pepper seedlings not growing tall

Good advice from others above.

My 2 cents:

If you're talking about Jiffy pots, i'm sorry to say those are complete junk. I'm surprised your plants are not yellow as well as stunted.

There are no nutrients at all in that type of planting mix which is pretty much compressed peat.

Kelp is not enough, you need to get some macro-nutrients to those plants. My suggestion is to use some good quality fish emulsion at the recommended rate (or other fert of your choice). You may have to compensate for the ph of the pots.

Peppers never grow fast, even when you start feeding them. Expect to be patient before transplanting.

-Mark


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RE: Pepper seedlings not growing tall

I would recommend a good dose of Miracle Grow, all NPK being as even as possible.

Your plants MIGHT just be getting good strong root systems and not working on growing height. Have you looked at their roots?

I bought some 'good soil' with starter fertilizer this year, but found out that my plants were NOT growing like they should have. I've changed back to MiracleGrow with Moisture Control and gave the others a good dose of starter fertilizer (high in N, lower in P and K) and finally after a week, they are starting to grow like they should have.

True, peppers don't grow as fast as tomatoes, but their stems are stronger/sturdier. And patience is definitely a virtue with peppers.


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RE: Pepper seedlings not growing tall

Everything posted here is correct for peppers' start with good soil,I wouldn't use peat pots next time also.But patience is definitely needed too as they grow agonizing slow after the germinating process is completed.My only recommendation is next time start much sooner,I plan to begin in November to have mine ready for March sales, at least for my open pollinated varieties as they grow slower then the commercial ones.


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RE: Pepper seedlings not growing tall

A couple of things since I had the same pepper problems as you and I'm about 200 miles east of you:

-First take them out of those horrible pots, they are drying too quickly.
-Take them out of the green house, I had mine in there and they were baking, leave them out or transplant directly into the ground. Your temperatures are too high now to keep them in the greenhouse. Once I took the stunted pepper plants out of the green house they shot up.
-Your climate is dryer than mine so make sure you don't use peat moss as your potting mix, switch to coconut coir if possible. The peat moss + greenhouse in March + those horrible pots are stunting your peppers (I'm surprised they are even still alive and haven't cooked!)
-Peppers should be directly sown into the ground at this time of year for your climate (Jan-Feb is the latest for green housing peppers & tomatoes)


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RE: Pepper seedlings not growing tall

I had a lot of stunted pepper seedlings last year in my greenhouse after the weather got hot. I had them in 72-cell trays, which was way too small. They turned a little bit yellow, but otherwise looked ok. Then they just never grew at all after being planted in the ground. It was like they were frozen in time.


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RE: Pepper seedlings not growing tall

I'm wondering if peppers just grow very slowly. I planted mine a month ago and they just now got their true leaves. I am using bottom heat just at night and they are sitting in a south-facing sunny window.


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RE: Pepper seedlings not growing tall

Don't use bottom heat once they germinate - you'll cook the roots. Use grow lights a couple inches away from tops of plants instead.

I started mine about 3 weeks ago (can't think of exact date), some are getting their true leaves but most aren't yet. Then again (even with bottom heat) some took 2 weeks to germinate. Last year some superhots took a month to germinate.


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RE: Pepper seedlings not growing tall

ajsmama, using absolutes when giving advice is really not helpful.

If I have the space, I use bottom heat on plants after they germinate and it certainly does not "cook the roots". Of course I don't keep the temp at 90F.

My greenhouse is not heated and hot weather plants appreciate the extra heat, especially at night as the above poster say's he does.

Here is a photo of a few flats from my first wave of sweet peppers, seeded Feb. 7th. The have been under lights until today, when they will move to harden off in the GH.

-Mark


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RE: Pepper seedlings not growing tall

This is the first time that I have used the ferti-pots or simular products. I usually transplant seedlings into 3 1/2 inch plastic pots and they do great. I have a customer who wanted a large quantity of peppers to plant using a mechanical transplanter so they needed the transplants grown in the brown egg carton type six pack systems. So taking them out of the pots is not an option at this point. I guess commercial growers have some way around the problems that I am having. They have been out of the green house for several days and I have been feeding with fish emulsion.


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RE: Pepper seedlings not growing tall

My peppers have really appreciated the fertilizer and LOTS of light.


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RE: Pepper seedlings not growing tall

Sorry Mark, I was in a rush. What I should have said was

"From the advice I got on the Hot Pepper forum a couple of years ago, you shouldn't keep the tray on the heat mat after the seeds have germinated. It's more important for them to get light at that time. Of course, they like it warm too. If you're keeping them on the heat mat, make sure they are well-watered (from the bottom) and the heat is low enough that they don't get dried out or "cooked" (roasted or steamed LOL!) from the bottom.

I started mine about 3 weeks ago (can't think of exact date), some are getting their true leaves but most aren't yet. Then again (even with bottom heat) some took 2 weeks to germinate. Last year some superhots took a month to germinate. So our peppers are probably about the same age, sounds like they're at the same stage of development. I think peppers just grow (as well as germinate) more slowly than tomatoes do.

Though it's been 5 days (alternating spaces on the single heating tray I have) since I started tomatoes, and not too many have germinated yet. I'll give it a couple more days. But it seems they're moving more slowly than I remember from past years. I think it's this organic Jiffy starter mix I bought when I ran out of Burpee this weekend. About half peat and half vermiculite, DD says it looks like rocks (mica)."

Your peppers look great!

Bob - I remember you mentioning that customer last year! So you're stuck with the pots - but what starter mix did you use? I guess you can't take them out of the pots now, and some of gama's advice won't work though it is applicable to your climate. Fertilizing, watering, and making sure temp is right (not too hot/dry, not too cold) sounds like all you can do right now. I'd still like to see pix if you can post them - searched and couldn't find Ferti-pots (though found Fertil-pots) online, do these come with the peat pellets in them? Maybe next year you can pull the pellets out and use a better start mix?


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RE: Pepper seedlings not growing tall

You're right it was Fertilpot strips. I used Fafard #2 mix for the medium. Same thing I used for everything else. It's almost identical to Metromix 200.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fertilpot Strips


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RE: Pepper seedlings not growing tall

Shorter plants are better for the transplanter, if I remember right that your people used one. Too tall of plants get caught in the transplanter.


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RE: Pepper seedlings not growing tall

I like Fafard #2 (see my post on "should I use this for potting up?" since I have left over from last year.

So did your customer take the peppers? What did he/she think of them? Guess they don't have problems with the peat pots if that's what they always use...


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RE: Pepper seedlings not growing tall

What size are those little pots, Mark? Are those for selling?
I have mine looking like that and they have 72 degrees bottom heat in a cold frame that I close at night. Lowest temps in the high 30's a few times Mostly high 40's. Mine first few successions are potted up to six packs now, but succession plants will be in 38 or 72 cell flats and go straight to the garden.


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RE: Pepper seedlings not growing tall

Those pots are 2 1/4" square and 2 1/2 deep. 4 flats like that are the first wave for the greenhouse, probably transplanting this week.

Growing peppers till transplant in 6 packs or 72's, huh? Thats awesome for saving space. I've never tried them in such small containers. Our season is so short (and night time temps low) that I try to get them sized up as much as possible b4 transplant.
Outdoor peppers I grow in even larger pots because I never know how long they'll have to stay inside if we have late rain/frosts.

Here is a photo of the second wave just before I pricked em.(300 seedlings crammed in a 8x8 lol)
100_5689


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RE: Pepper seedlings not growing tall

Just looked above at the link Snappybob gave for the fertilpot strips. Those aren't the peat pots I was talking about being junk. I've never tried those.
I can see that drying could be a major issue with that type of pot.

Hopefully with less heat, more water and some good feeding they'll kick in soon.

-Mark


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RE: Pepper seedlings not growing tall

I had read to do first round in larger packs to size up, but as the season got more temperate to work down in container size for succession plantings. That's how I do peppers , tomatoes and eggplant starting since last year. Also basil and some cucurbits. It worked well. This is with a long growing season. We can plant outdoors now , or earlier with black mulch and cover, but the best planting time for peppers is typically late May/June.


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RE: Pepper seedlings not growing tall

I started my peppers in 50-cell flat, 2 seeds to a cell, at the beginning of the month. Some, but not many, are starting to get their true leaves. I took them off bottom heat after the majority germinated (I needed the warming tray for tomatoes), I did have a few stragglers pop up but they're not growing too quickly. The tomatoes germinated in 5-6 days and now are taller than the peppers (some are really leggy, again, the hybrids germinated more quickly than the OP so I didn't get them under the lights soon enough, waiting for the heirlooms).

I have a "mini greenhouse" covered with plastic, after tomatoes were moved under lights I was keeping plastic closed (and 6 13W CFLs generated enough heat to keep it noticeably warmer than room temp in there, I didn't look to see what temp was), but peppers looked like they were starting to get white mold on the surface of the soil (bottom watering, but I think Burpee mix soaks up more than Jiffy, or the plug flat sits in more water/has bigger hole than the72 cell 6-packs) this weekend so I had to open it back up again. Think potting them up to another 50-plug flat (1 per cell) will help? Both the peppers and tomatoes have some roots growing out the bottom (good I guess, better than having shallow roots), I was planning on potting up the peppers next week but was hoping to hold off another month on the tomatoes since I just started the seed on 3/17.

Mark, How long is your season? Zone 8 sounds like a long season to me, we're officially 5b but I swear we're in a microclimate and sometimes it's more like 4. How old are those peppers in your last picture?

Rustico, I am also surprised you wait so long to plant out peppers - I usually get mine out in early to mid June, thought you would be earlier without cover.


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RE: Pepper seedlings not growing tall

My customer took half of the order about a week ago. They were Gypsy hybrid peppers. I spoke to them later in the week and they said they were looking better. The other half of the order is still in and out of the greenhouse depending on the weather. We had a cold snap here this weekend. The second half of the order are OP heirloom peppers. They are looking better so I am hopeful that they will be OK. I took pictures yesterday and loaded onto a flash drive so I could try to post them today but, of course, now I can't open them because they are supposedly damaged or something. I should have emailed them to my office as well. I'll try again tonight. Thanks to all of you for all your help.


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RE: Pepper seedlings not growing tall

Bob, glad it's working out. Doesn't technology suck sometimes?

Rustico, that makes good sense. Smaller pots when transplanting times are more guaranteed.

Ajsmama, in that photo those plants are 16 days from seeding. My zone 8 is limited by heavy spring rains which bring with them early blight and waterlogged soils (amongst other problems). In my greenhouse where I grow most of my peppers, that's less of a problem.


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RE: Pepper seedlings not growing tall

Ajsmama yes, I do plant now without cover, and earlier with cover/black mulch. Last frost date Mar 15. I didn't do anything earlier though. I should have gambled a little more with warm weather stuff. We are having a great spring.

May or June is best because our nights warm up very slowly even if it doesn't get really cold, Lows will hover around 50 + or - for April and May.


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RE: Pepper seedlings not growing tall

Wow Mark those look great for 16 days from seeding (of course I have to to to figure scale since you said it was 8x8 flat, they may appear larger than life LOL). It took some of mine almost that long to germinate, even with 75-80 degree soil temp in the flat. I hear you on the waterlogged soil, we have a lot of ledge and glacial till here so unless I do raised beds (soil is sandy loam but pH of about 4.2 - 4.5, needs lots of lime and compost) it doesn't drain well.

Rustico - oh, I read that you had to wait til May/June to plant without cover. Our highs are usually around 50 this time of year getting to 65 by end of April, but lows still don't make it above 40 by then, last year we had 3 hard freezes the last week of April even though it was a milder than normal spring, and we lost a lot of fruit (apples and blueberries, I wasn't growing strawberries then but I think some people lost those too since they started to flower early). Temps are running about 10 degrees below normal this month.


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RE: Pepper seedlings not growing tall

Bob - I wonder if the Gypsy peppers are doing better in the ground b/c they're cooler and moisture more consistent? Are you doing anything differently with the heirlooms?


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RE: Pepper seedlings not growing tall

Sheila, dry those peppers with the white stuff, they are getting too much moisture. Peppers can afford to get dry, I only water them 1/2 the time as tomatoes.

If the roots are coming out, either they are standing in water too much, or they are getting root bound.


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RE: Pepper seedlings not growing tall

Yes, I figured the peppers got too wet, you could really see the Burpee mix wicking up the water and having the "greenhouse" zipped up didn't help. They are drying up some now, the plants look OK but I think potting up might help. Don't know whether it's the Burpee (only used a little of it last year, I don't remember for what) or the new used plug flat with 1 big hole per cell? Half the tomatoes are in a mix that's mostly Burpee with a little bit of Jiffy and they didn't suck up the water as quickly, I didn't see the surface get wet. In act, seemed fairly dry today so I watered them again, but didn't touch the peppers. I don't think I should have to water the tomatoes every 3 days, but the peppers got really wet so they're going to go 5-6 days at least.

I don't know why the tomatoes are sending roots down to the bottom of the cells. I've only bottom-watered them once since I just took them off the heat this weekend after the heirlooms germinated. I had just been misting them while they were on the heat (and I was careful to leave the cover ajar for a little bit of circulation while I was waiting for the stragglers the last couple of days last week).

None of them has multiple roots coming out, not even the cells with 4-6 tomatoes (some of my seeds got shifted from one cell to another - I hope they're all the same variety! Though I was careful to put the cherries next to the beefsteaks, and purple next to pink, etc. just in case. Only CP and BK ended up next to each other so I might have some of those mixed).


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RE: Pepper seedlings not growing tall

Glad you're not selling the plants, we had a small greenhouse that got seeds mixed up....to say the least their reputation went south after that.

I don't use the dome lids or cover the shelves with anything. I do like to keep the humidity in house around 30-40% tho. I have had trouble as soon as I try to use them.


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RE: Pepper seedlings not growing tall

I tried to be careful but since I got more than 2 seedlings in cells I was sure I'd only put 2 in and none in others nearby I think the misting moved some ;-)

Next time I'll have to mist from far above - or use Saran instead of the domes, maybe that will keep the moisture in better but then you have the problem of some seeds sprouting before others and not wanting to keep the Saran on the seedlings.


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RE: Pepper seedlings not growing tall

Here is the pic I was going to post yesterday. They look quite a bit better now. These pics were taken a few days ago.


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RE: Pepper seedlings not growing tall

They may not be tall but they look very healthy to me.


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RE: Pepper seedlings not growing tall

Snappy, they look fine, just growing roots instead of getting leggy. Just as soon as they feel like growing topside, they'll jump. I would give them a drink of multipurpose fertilizer, but that's all.

Sheila, I don't use anything, dome or Saran on my seeds. It keeps too much moisture and then it gets moldy.

Marla


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