Pepper Plants Not Growing? Problem Solve With Our Checklist

Hot peppers have been used for centuries to spice up culinary dishes around the world. These plants are a fun way to add spice, and they can be grown as easy as most other plants. But, there are times when the growing gets tough. So are your hot pepper plants not growing like you imagined? Below you’ll find some common factors that may be affecting your plants and suggestions on how to help them thrive.

What is the expected germination time?

Most species of hot pepper plants will take around seven days to sprout, but there are some species that can take up to a month and a few even take four months. So, be sure to check the seed packet’s germination time before you give up on the little guys.

Are your seeds viable?

If you started from seed, it may be the seed itself. Older seeds or those that have not been stored properly will have a reduced probability of germinating. Even if they do sprout, they may not be viable enough to produce much more than a few baby leaves.

How is the temperature?

The temperature when planted can have a negative effect on the seed. Hot pepper seeds like warmer temperatures. The optimum temperature for them is 85 degrees Fahrenheit, especially for the hotter variety of plants. But most hot pepper seeds should be able to germinate at temperatures as low as 60 degrees Fahrenheit. If it was too cold for the seed when planted, it may rot or produce too weak of a plant to thrive.

How is your soil?

Hot pepper plants not growing successfully may be in highly acidic soil. If you have your pepper plants in the ground and are mixing in additional nutrients, or if you are growing them in containers, you will want to avoid sphagnum and peat moss mixtures since they are more acidic. You may want to try a soil mixture containing coconut fiber as this is closer to a neutral pH. Additionally, planting crushed eggshells with your pepper plants will provide a source of calcium as the shells break down and should help protect against blossom end rot.

Is there fungus?

If there is fungus present in your soil, it may cause the pepper plants to die off shortly after sprouting. While pepper plants do not usually thrive as well in pots, you may need to start them in a pot with sterile soil. If there is fungus present in the soil, other plants will probably be suffering as well, especially those close in relation to the hot pepper plants (bell peppers, tomatoes, etc). Applying a plant safe fungicide to the soil should help eliminate this issue.

Is there enough sun and water?

Hot pepper plants need to be planted in full sun and given plenty of water but not waterlogged. If the leaves are looking wilted, you may need to add more water.

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on September 5, 2019 to include new content.
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Carmen Vallone

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