Various disruptive factors cause pepper plants to drop flowers. Affected hobby gardeners need immediate action to save this year’s harvest. An expert root cause analysis determines the right countermeasures. This is to do when the pepper blossoms fall off.
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Demanding nightshade plant
The species-rich genus paprika (Capsicum) belongs to the nightshade family (Solanaceae) and is native to the warm, sun-drenched regions of South America. In the cool, Central European climate, the cultivation of sweet peppers, chillies and hot peppers poses a particular challenge for the hobby gardener. The supporting pillars for a rich harvest of crisp, aromatic fruits include nutrient-rich, humus-rich soil and warm general conditions that simulate the South American climate. Pollinating insects must not be denied access to the hermaphrodite flowers.
The white, bell-shaped flowers fall off when a demanding pepper plant registers disturbances. With this measure, the sensitive nightshade plant postpones the growth of the longed-for fruits until the general conditions improve. The quicker you identify and fix the cause of the flower shedding, the faster new bell pepper flowers will develop and turn into delicious fruit. The following sections sum up the five most common causes of flower drop with tips for effective countermeasures.
The high heat requirement of pepper plants requires cultivation under controlled conditions in most regions of Germany. Only in mild wine-growing regions do the plants bring their gardener a rich harvest outdoors. Temperatures between 18° and 21° Celsius in combination with a sunny to full sun position are obligatory for lavish flowering. Constant temperatures of 23° to 25° Celsius are required for a premium quality pepper harvest. If the thermometer fluctuates around 18° to 19° Celsius, the fruits remain tiny. This is what to do when the pepper blossoms fall off because the tropical plant is shivering outdoors:
- Outdoors: Set up a foil tunnel over the plants
- In the bucket: relocate freezing plants to the greenhouse or conservatory
- On the balcony: Put a cover made of greenhouse film over the culture pot, similar to the tomato house that grows with it
Cold soil with temperatures below 15° Celsius is harmful to pepper plants because the flowers fall off. Forward-thinking home gardeners cover the bed with dark mulch film early in the year so that the spring sun warms the soil deeply. Young peppers are planted in cross-shaped slots.
Pepper plants want an even water supply, adjusted to the ongoing growth. If the soil dries out, the plants sense trouble and throw off the flowers without further ado. In warm, full sun, drought is the most common cause of pepper blossoms dropping. To fix the problem:
- Determine daily watering needs: Stick your fingers 1-2 cm deep into the soil and water when you can’t feel any moisture
- Water quality: ideally collected rainwater or stagnant tap water
- Water correctly: Let the water run out of the spout directly onto the root disc
- Best time of day: early morning or after sunset
If you are a beginner and don’t want to rely on finger tests, you can use a watering indicator. In the simple version, this is an analog measuring stick that shows the watering requirement in the substrate by means of a color change or scale on the display. The practical Seramis watering indicator is suitable for potted pepper plants. In order to determine the water requirement of peppers planted out in the greenhouse or bed, we recommend the plant soil moisture meter, which also works without batteries.
Cause: acute nutrient deficiency
Pepper flowers fall off when the plant lacks nutrients. Regular fertilizing is therefore a must in professional care. If the flowers have already dropped, compost and other solid fertilizers are not suitable for remedying the acute lack of nutrients. How to properly fertilize peppers when time is of the essence:
- Foliar fertilization with diluted nettle broth, worm tea or an organic nutrient solution from specialist shops
- Apply fertilizer solution to the undersides and tops of the leaves by spraying
- Caution: Do not foliar fertilize in direct sunlight
The starving pepper plant absorbs vital nutrients directly through the leaves. The deficit is remedied within a few days and no more pepper blossoms fall off. It is important to note that foliar fertilization as a short-term emergency solution does not replace organic soil fertilization.
Cause: unfertilized flowers
Paprika flowers are hermaphroditic and self-pollinating. Insects or the wind are responsible for pollination. There are often no insects in the wind-protected greenhouse. Unfertilized flowers fall off because pepper plants do not want to invest valuable energy reserves in the useless reproductive organs. It doesn’t have to come to that. By gently shaking the peppers or stroking the flower crowns with a soft brush, manual pollination is successful and the flower shedding is stopped.
Cause: lack of light
Pepper plants are among the sun worshipers of the nightshade family. Anyone who expects a semi-shady location for the tropical beauties should not be surprised if the flowers fall off. Four to six hours of sunshine a day is the minimum for floriferous growth. How to solve the problem:
- Container plants move to a full sun spot in the garden or on the balcony
- Transplant peppers in the bed from partial shade to the sun
Is the greenhouse or conservatory cramped and all the sunny spots are already occupied? Plant lamps then compensate for the lack of light so that no more pepper flowers fall and new buds sprout.
frequently asked Questions
The pretty, white bell-shaped flowers are far too good to be thrown away in the compost. Any freshly fallen pepper blossom is an appetizing ingredient for a crispy salad. Air-dried or pressed in a thick book, the distinctive flower crowns are useful as imaginative table decorations.
No, on the contrary, experienced hobby gardeners intentionally remove the king blossom in order to increase profitability. Pepper plants pump all their energy reserves towards the first flower, which massively impedes the development of further buds and torpedoes the crop yield. However, the shedding of the king flower is an important indication of location or maintenance problems and a good reason for the recommended cause analysis here with adequate countermeasures.