The Q&A Archives: Hot peppers

Question: I have had a disaster. I am growing 12 varieties of hot peppers. I have encountered 3 different problems that I cannot place blame to (in order to avoid it next time). I was starting the seeds on top of my freezer, which stays quite warm, in a black seed starter. I only had about 50% germination, and most that didn't germinate were to the center of the tray, is there a logical reason for this? #2-After alot of them came up, I transplanted some, and left the others in the tray on the freezer. One day I came home, and they, on the freezer, had all spindled up and died, why? #3- My living plants all of a sudden decided that they would turn white (the leaves). The only light I have is a hot/cold light, but I'm not sure how far to keep it off of them when they are 2-4" tall. Is the white leaves due to lack of light, or something else?

Answer: I'm sorry to hear about your troubles! Let's see. #1: I can't think of a logical reason, unless that section of the tray got too warm/cold, or for some reason received too much/too little water. #2. I'm afraid what you encountered was "damping off", cause by a soil-borne fungus. Seedlings which have damped off shrivel along the stem right where it touches the soil. It is important to use a sterile seed-starting mix (rather than garden soil), and to sterilize containers before using. (Wash with soapy water and rinse with a 10 percent bleach solution.) It is, unfortunately, a very common problem. #3. It's best to keep seedlings under "cool-white" fluorescent lights, keeping the lights just an inch or two above the seedlings. It sounds as though your plants may have been burned by hot lights. Is this possible? (I'm not sure what a hot/cold light is.)

Again, I'm sorry about your difficulties. I wish we could have helped sooner! Following is a web site with lots of seed-starting information that might help you with your next round:

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