The Q&A Archives: Sick Pepper Plant

Question: I have several Pepper plants (green and brown). I think some snails and/or slugs got to them just slightly after planting. I dusted them with Sevin powder and placed some snail/slug pest control and that appears to have stopped the attack. One pepper has very limp leaves and growth is very slow. Another pepper plant looks better, but growth is still slow (by slow I mean they have gained very little in height in about a month). Finally I the last pepper looks much better. In fact it looks like it has more leaves that it needs?. The soil was all clay. I prepared the bed by sifting the rocks out of the clay to a depth of 8-12 inches and raised the bed another 8 inches. I mixed in some manure and peat moss to start with. They get plenty of water and sun.

Answer: If the pepper that's limp has been that way for a week or more, it sounds like it's suffered some type of root problem--it could be disease or water stress from either too much or too little water. The plants should be growing well now that the weather has warmed up--it sounds like only one of yours is thriving. I'm afraid that the other two might not perk up in time to produce a good sized crop this season. You might want to purchase a few transplants to fill in those spots, if you have your heart set on lots of peppers.

The healthy pepper probably doesn't have more leaves than it needs. That said, it should start flowering and fruiting soon, if it isn't already. Over-fertilization, especially with a high nitrogen fertilizer, can cause foliage growth at the expense of flowers and peppers.

You may want to get a soil test done, if not for this season, for next. Clay soil and peat moss can both be acidic--and if your pH is off your plants will struggle. If the soil tests acidic, follow the results' recommendations on
adding lime--preferably this fall so it has time to work.

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