The Q&A Archives: Shrivelled Pepper Seedlings

Question: I started four different varieties of peppers from seed in peat pellets, all are approximately 2 inches tall and have one set of leaves. The banana's leaves have started to curl inward and shrivel, leaving only a stem. What is this, how and why does it happen, and can be prevented? I also want to know if this will spread to the other varieties (they are all in the same tray). I am using grow lights (GE plant light kit). I have fertilized them once and water when the pellets appear to be turningvery light brown. Kim LaRosa Cherry Hill, NJ

Answer: It could be your peat pellets are too wet or dry and that's what's causing the pepper leaves to drop. I never really liked growing plants in peat pellets because of this, but if you've had success then keep using them. If you're letting the pellets get light brown between waterings, then they may be drying out too much. Place the pellets on a tray containing warm water about 1" deep. Let the pellets absorb enough water and then leave them until the water dries up in the tray. By bottom watering this way, you'll avoid the overwatering and drying out of the seedlings.

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