Gardeners with low calcium levels in their garden often report their bell peppers rot before ripening. This condition is known as blossom-end rot. Blossom-end rot is a good indicator that your soil's pH is off or lacks nutrients. Understanding the cause and signs of blossom-end rot help prevent future bell pepper problems.
Low levels of calcium or low soil moisture can cause blossom-end rot, according to the University of Tennessee. Bell peppers must have soil moisture to absorb calcium. Calcium helps keep plants healthy, as it helps people grow bones, according to A&L Canada Laboratories. Lacking calcium, cell membranes and plant tissues of the bell pepper begin to die.
Bell peppers inflicted with blossom-end rot show signs of discoloring. Tan areas appear on the surface of the peppers. Gardeners often mistake this problem for sun scald. However, sun-burned bell peppers turn white, according to the University of Tennessee. Eventually, the ends of the peppers turn black or look rotted. You may see your bell peppers exhibit blossom-end rot after fertilizing your plants. Excessive amounts of fertilizer can prevent calcium from being absorbed into the plant.
Test your soil to find out if it is lacking calcium. Because blossom-end rot can be caused by poor irrigation or lack of soil moisture, mark off a potential blossom-end rot cause. Dig a 4- to 6-inch hole in the garden bed and collect half of a cup of soil. Dry the soil sample in the sun and remove any debris. Send your soil to your local cooperative extension office for analysis. The report will indicate any nutrient problem and how much calcium to apply to the soil.
Throw away infected bell peppers. Irrigate your bell peppers in the morning, so the water sinks down to 6 inches. Avoid watering in the late afternoon, as wet plants encouraged fungal disease. Increase the soil moisture by mulching around your bell pepper plants to lock in moisture. Spread a 3- to 4-inch layer of mulch around plants. Hold off applying nitrogen to the soil. Fertilizer contains salts, which dries out the soil and makes calcium uptake difficult.