Let me begin by saying how awesome peppers are. It makes me think about salsa, pizza, tacos, and an entire bunch of other recipes. You’re just going to have to agree with me that pepper plants are one of the best things that have ever happened.
But you already know that. What you want to know is how to make your pepper plants grow.
This in-depth article will discuss the common reasons why peppers have stopped growing. Many actionable steps will be presented in this article. The last part will discuss the characteristics of peppers. (Read What Is Eating My Pepper Plants At Night)
14 Reasons Why Your Pepper Plants are not Growing and What to Do
Here is a list of common causes of stunted growth among pepper plants. This is a long list but the more you know the closer you are to finding the solution.
- Temperatures Problem
- Nutrition Deficiency
- Root bounded
- Overwatering or Underwatering
- Insufficient Lightning
- Over Compressed Soil
- Bad Early Development and Lemons
- Seed, and Genetics
- Transplant Shock
- Sub-optimal Lightning
- Ph Problem
1. Below Standard Temperatures.
Peppers are tropical plants. They flourish under warm conditions, and if germinating keep the heat above 80° F for quick growth. You could use a heating mat, or bring a heat source closer to the germinating seeds.
There are varieties that will withstand cooler temperatures like the Manzano Pepper. If your area is on the cooler side though you might want to compensate for that or plant at the right growing season. 70-95 degrees Fahrenheit is a wonderful range for peppers to grow, and a few weeks below 55° F is death.
2. Nutrition Deficiency
All plants need nutrients. As peppers start to grow so does their need. At first, when they are young, you’ll need more nitrogen but as they grow older you should lessen the nitrogen. Phosphorous and calcium are important too.
Phosphorous helps in storing energy while calcium aids in disease prevention. Using too much fertilizer can damage your plants. The best way to tackle this is to shop for fertilizers that have instructions. Aged compost and nutrient-rich potting soil are also good choices.
Yellowing of leaves, limited growth, and bad flower formation are symptoms. (Read Peace Lily Yellow Leaves What To Do)
This one is straightforward. If your pepper grew well but it suddenly stopped flourishing the probable cause is lack of space. You’ll need to transplant them into a bigger pot, or another area with enough space.
There are guidelines about transplanting your pepper plants. Keep this in mind: The bigger the plant the bigger the soil space. Also, root-pruning is another alternative to root-bound plants but not to peppers.
4. Overwatering or underwatering
Too much of everything can be a bad thing. Peppers need a good amount of water but every time you do water it, give it time to dry. Overwatering is the most common cause of stunted growth. among seedlings so watch out for the moisture level.
Think of root rot, yellow or curled leaves, soft stems and roots, and ugly fruits. What you want is to keep the pot dry. There’s moisture beneath most often than not.
Water pepper in the morning, and don’t use tap water because chlorine is bad. Finding the right amount of water will depend on many factors but try to look out for signs. The signs will dictate if you are underwatering or over-watering.
5. Insufficient Lightning
Slow growth and lanky plants are both indicative of poor lightning. Peppers need about 6-8 hours of sunlight. And seeds need a lot more light hours.
Whether you are using a grow light or the sun for growing your plants make sure that is adequate. Grow lights come in different varieties so make sure to check the specifications. When it comes to using sunlight make sure there is no shade.
6. Over compressed Soil
The trick to do when dealing with over-compressed soil is to add compost to it. Also, a garden fork or other similar material can be used to loosen up the soil. Rich, loamy soil is what you want but you want it to be well-drained.
The way to avoid over-compaction is by not applying pressure to it. Pressure can mean you pounding the soil in your pot too hard or walking on the soil. Having compacted soil ruins the growth of roots,
And when the roots are not expanding the plant suffers.
There are many types of pests in your garden. Some are worse than others and will destroy y all you’re hard work within a short amount of time. Keep watch on what crawls, or flies, in your garden.
A specific insect will cause your plants to become damaged in a way that you can easily identify. Make an observation, and determine the culprit. You could then act appropriately, be it handpicking or spraying
Most of the time though you’ll see them about sucking the life out of your plant. Anyways, common pests include aphids, spittle bugs, cutworms, and leafhoppers. A book on garden pest control or watching a Youtube video will help a lot!
8. Bad Early Development and Lemons
Plants are affected by genes, and sometimes transmission doesn’t work well. This could mean that your specific plant just has bad genes, hence a lemon.
The reason why you get rid of bad plants is that they might pass on their genes to your next batch of seeds. If you decide that they are one, better to cull them off.
Bad early development could affect growth in the future. But stunted pepper plants can grow well enough. In this case, continue treating them with care and they should be growing alright.
If the condition is not right a disease might develop in a plant. Think of it as a reaction to their environment. Blossom end rot and sunscald are common diseases that fall into this category.
Viruses are another issue entirely. You could have done a good job but sometimes they attack out of nowhere. Mosaic virus comes from aphids, and these pests can be addressed early on.
Fungi cause a lot of diseases among peppers. To counter this, have well-drained soil in each of your pots or bed raises.
Keep the conditions balanced. Practice rotation in planting, and keep the area free of debris. When it comes to fungal disease there are organic fungicides that will help. And consider disease-resistant variants when growing peppers. (Read our Romaine Lettuce Growing Guide)
Sometimes seeds don’t grow because they were badly handled. Another possibility is that they are too old! Lastly, some seeds take longer to germinate so be sure to know what seeds you are planting.
11. Transplant Shock
Have you prepared the garden area? Add compost, remove pests, and ensure that the garden soil is well-drained. The area should receive more than 6 hours of full sun.
It’s normal if they grow slowly for some days. Take extra care in handling the roots and stems. And plant when it’s not sunny with the soil freshly watered.
And, as a last tip remember to transition pepper plants properly that were grown indoors.
12. Sub-optimal lightning
Pepper seeds need a lot of light to start growing. 12 hours of strong light is the minimum but try to go for 16-18 hours. Fully grown peppers need around 8 hours of strong sunlight. If they are tall and lanky, that’s a sure sign of lack of light.
My advice is to aim for a lot of light, especially with the seeds. Now, is there too much light? Yes, sunburn for plants happens especially to newly transitioned peppers.
13. pH Problem
The best pH range for peppers is 6.5 to 7. Planting with the wrong PH level can severely affect plant growth so make to buy a testing kit. Also, the tests would dictate other adjustments that might be necessary.
Ph levels partly dictate the amount or type of soil bacteria, toxicity, and soil structure. If you want to decrease soil pH use sulfur. If you want to increase it use lime. (Find the Best Soil PH Test Kit)
There are a lot of peppers one can grow from home. As such, there are different categories but we’ll focus on size. There are compact and tall peppers, with most hot peppers being in the range of 2-4 feet. What you want is to be familiar with the typical growth rate and maximum size of your pepper plant.
It’s possible that your pepper plant reached maximum size without you knowing it. So you might expect it to still grow even though they are fully mature.
As a fun fact, the tallest pepper plant was 16 feet long according to Guinness World Records.
Growing A Pepper Plant
It can be daunting to start but once you do start reaping harvest the intrinsic reward is the best. There are many challenges, especially if you are just starting out. Remember peppers are best grown in a warm and sunny area with well-drained soil.
This guide has provided some of the more common reasons why pepper plants are not growing, and what to do. We wish you well in your journey to growing peppers.