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My Pepper Plants Are Not Growing

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Peppers range from sweet bell and banana peppers to spicy jalapenos and habaneros. Peppers in the garden prefer similar growing conditions to tomatoes and plants generally grow between 2 and 3 feet tall. A plant that fails to reach this height may also never produce abundant peppers. There are several reasons that a pepper may be stunted.

Keep a planting log when you plant vegetables. Refer to this log when troubleshooting stunted peppers. The condition under which you planted peppers may explain why the peppers are stunted. Peppers that were planted late may be stunted because their roots were confined for too long. Peppers that were planted in soil that is cooler than 50 degrees Fahrenheit will not grow well and will fail to produce blossoms.

Explore the garden area. If your peppers are growing in a shady area, they will be stunted and will not produce abundant vegetables. Peppers require at least 6 hours of sunlight daily to thrive.

Take a sample of soil by collecting a soil core from around your pepper plants as well as 9 other locations in your garden. A soil core is a cylindrical collection of soil taken from a specific location for testing. Mix the soil and spread it over a newspaper to dry. Submit the soil to a local soil laboratory for testing using the paperwork and sample box that the facility provides. A soil test will reveal any nutrient deficiencies or the presence of parasites such as nematodes that will stunt the growth of peppers. If the soil test indicates nutrient deficiencies or the presence of parasites, take steps to correct the issue. Soil deficiencies and parasites in the soil can affect all plants. Soil may be fertilized to correct deficiencies in nutrients. Parasites must be killed through soil sterilization or by fumigating soil.

Examine pepper plants to determine if the blossoms have set and the plant is producing peppers. If pepper plants set vegetables early in their growing cycle, they will put their energy toward developing peppers rather than growing in size. Allow the vegetable to grow and harvest as usual. The pepper plant will continue to develop once the vegetable is harvested.

Look at the leaves of stunted plants. If the leaves are discolored or puckered, this may be a sign of pepper mild mottled virus. The virus is highly contagious and can spread through contamination from other plants or plant material in the soil. There is no cure for the virus. Plants must be destroyed and crops should be rotated to avoid infecting future plants.


The best way to take a soil core is with a soil auger or soil core sampler. This tool resembles a round tube at the end of a long handle. To take the core, insert the tube into the soil and twist the tube to the right with the handle. When you remove the tube from the soil, the core of soil will be pulled out with the tube.

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