The Q&A Archives: pepper seedlings dropping leaves while on a APS

Question: After the pepper seedlings were transplanted to 4" peat pots and placed on an APS under grow lights for continuous
self-watering and continued growth, the lower leaves began to turn light yellow and fall off. None of the pepper plants ( about 7 different varieties! ) ever looked nice and green, only a light green to yellowish green. Even after removing them from the APS, they continued to grow, but did not look real healthy. After setting them out in the garden, they look greener, but are about half the normal size for this time of the year. I used Miracle Grow potting soil to transplant them in the peat pots. Were they too wet on the APS system? Every other vegetable plant I grew on the APS thrived and continues to be very hardy and healthy.

Answer: Based on your description I would suspect that they were too wet, or possibly too cold, or possibly transplanted into too large or too small a pot, or possibly a combination. Peppers really grow best at about 70 degrees during the day and 60 degrees at night and prefer a moist yet well drained soil. When transplanting, it is better to move them up to only a slightly larger container than a much larger container, since the larger container may increase the risk of overwatering. Be careful, too, not to start them too early (eight weeks is about enough), because once they start growing it is better to set out stocky young healthy plants than stressed older plants. I hope your peppers recover!

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