The frustration of stunted pepper plants... I'm sure at some point, you might experience what it's like to have your chillies grow at a snail's pace. (I sure have!)
Readers often ask me the following question:
Q: What Do You Do When Your Pepper Plants Grow Really Slow After Germination?
You'll get your seeds to sprout, but sometimes they just seem stuck after that. Or, maybe things were fine while growing them indoors, but they started to stall once they went outside.
So how do you get them going again?
To give you the best possible information, I asked other gardeners for their advice about slow growing pepper plants. I thought it would be helpful to read a variety of responses so you know why this could be happening, and get ideas on what to do to fix the situation.
"There can be a few reasons, some of the most common are: Low temperatures can cause slow growth, peppers are tropical plants, and will grow at their full potential when kept above 80F.
Lack of nutrition can often be the case, especially when growing in starts, as store bought potting soil is sterile and doesn't tend to contain much of any nutrients.
If growing in starts as well, they can become rootbound quite quickly, which will stunt your plant, using larger pots and transplanting earlier will solve that one pretty quickly!"
"You mean after they first come up? Patience is required. As long as they have light and are kept moist, they will grow.
Peppers don’t like to go in cold soil. Planting too early results in slower growth. Peppers that go in cold soil become stunted. I don’t plant until June myself. I have a snapping turtle in my pond and when she trudges up the hill to lay her eggs, I know the soil is warm enough to plant. I usually see her the first week of June. The plants that go into the ground then out produce anything planted in early May."
-- The Chile Woman
"All of our seeds are started under lights and on heating mats. We use the old style bulbs which give off heat, not the newer bulbs. When lights are on for 16 hours a day, soil temps are 80-90, when lights are off for 8 hours soil temps drop to the 70s. We cover with a plastic film until germination but remove every day for an hour or so to allow fresh air in.
We have never had plants not grow after germination! We keep them under lights for 3 weeks, although they come off of the mats after 10 days or as soon as all seeds have sprouted. Lights are within inches of the plants.
If we are having germination issues, we may crank up the heating mats and/or lower the lights closer to the plants. Heat = growth.
After the plants have the first 2 sets of leaves, the cotyledons, and we see the true leaf starting to push out, we begin a weak fish emulsion feeding. We use a very dilute seaweed solution from day one.
Plants will stunt if they are being kept too wet or too cold. Allow the soil surface to dry before more moisture is added. Roots grow looking for moisture. If they are soaking in it, they don't grow.
So our best guess is that the plants just need more heat. Especially at night. And when big enough, food.
Wishing everyone a bountiful season, your friends at ChilePlants."
"There are a lot of factors that can cause a pepper plant to fail to thrive. Here are my top 3:
2: insufficient lighting
3: ambient temperatures are too cold."
In my experience, stunted pepper plants are usually due to inappropriate water levels, temperature issues and not enough nutrition.
I often give a weak feeding of fish emulsion after the first set of true leaves. (Here's a sample fertilization schedule for your reference.)
You should also check the pH level of your soil for the correct range, (about 5.8 to 6.8). A proper pH helps plants successfully uptake nutrients.
In addition, I'm also including a couple of related links on The Hot Pepper forum:
Many thanks to the contributors of this article!
Here's to a bountiful pepper harvest. Happy growing! 🙂
And for those of you looking for more information on how to take care of your pepper plants… Make sure to check out The Chile Plant Hospital. You’ll discover some of the most common issues that affect chillies, and get the exact remedies you need to fix each problem fast. I’m always here to answer questions!