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Help needed - Stalled young plants


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#1 CeQu

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Posted 05 October 2011 - 08:55 PM

I've been trying to grow some peppers, but for some reason they all get to a point where they almost stop growing. Some of them have yellowed a bit, others haven't. Mind I live in Chile so it's spring and the outside temperatures are around 25C/77F during the day. I've chosen 4 plants amongst 35 I'm growing:

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1: Aji Lemon, sowed 7 weeks ago. I think I overwatered it, but that was 2 weeks ago and I've cut the water since, without improvement. It lost its cotyledons. Gave it a bit of Epsom Salt, didn't help.

2: Orange Habanero, sowed 5 weeks ago. One of the healthiest (basically put for comparison), but growing very slow.

3: Trinidad Scorpion ButchT, sowed 5 weeks ago... grew quite fast at first, now it has almost stopped and has been losing its strong green color.

4: Naga Morich, sowed 7 weeks ago and now it's yellow/white. Lost its cotyledons too. Also tried with a bit of Epsom Salt

These are 10oz. cups. I have them all in a north-facing window (again, I'm in the southern hemisphere), and with CFL lights during the nights... they get about 1 hour of direct sunlight through a double-glass window. I've searched the forum a lot and honestly don't know what I may be doing wrong, because they all start great and then stall. Any kind of help will be greatly appreciated, as I'm almost losing my hope here.

Have a nice day!

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#2 arijer

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Posted 05 October 2011 - 09:58 PM

Hi CeQu

There are many on here with exponential knowledge more then me. But until they chime in you will have to suffer with my little knowledge.

It seems you have the light issue covered, the temp seems fine. There are still many variables, such as night time temprature, are the cups with drain holes. You may think you are watering ok but even with cutbacks if there are no drain holes... Also what are you feeding the plants? other then the empsom salt. What is the pH of the water you are using? peppers thrive in mildly acidic setting. If they are loosing their color, then they are missing a nutrient, it can be Nitrogen, Magnesium, Calcium... and lack of all those can cause stunted growth. I know there is more to it than that, but that is what i can think of right now. Give us some more info, i am sure the fellas here will be glad to help.

#3 CeQu

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Posted 05 October 2011 - 10:29 PM

Thanks Arijer! To answer the questions:

Night temperatures are not too cold, they're in my room. The cups have holes and water drainage is fine (the bottom is not logged as far as I know). I've only gave them Epsom Salt, also tried a tiny bit of coffee grounds over the soil in plant #1. I tested the pH of the water and it seems it's around 6-7, as well as the soil (which has about 10% peat moss). Maybe I have crappy soil, but I don't want to risk burning them with nutrients if it's not the case.

Cheers!

#4 gasificada

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Posted 05 October 2011 - 10:39 PM

Hi CeQu

There are many on here with exponential knowledge more then me. But until they chime in you will have to suffer with my little knowledge.

It seems you have the light issue covered, the temp seems fine. There are still many variables, such as night time temprature, are the cups with drain holes. You may think you are watering ok but even with cutbacks if there are no drain holes... Also what are you feeding the plants? other then the empsom salt. What is the pH of the water you are using? peppers thrive in mildly acidic setting. If they are loosing their color, then they are missing a nutrient, it can be Nitrogen, Magnesium, Calcium... and lack of all those can cause stunted growth. I know there is more to it than that, but that is what i can think of right now. Give us some more info, i am sure the fellas here will be glad to help.

I think you have the main possible causes covered there, arijer.

When my babies start to go all pale and stunted, over-watering is usually the culprit. Although after starting mega early in Winter this year, I found the low temps really didn't help either.

In all honesty, they don't look that bad at all to me, CeQu. Perhaps give 'em a low dose of nutes if you haven't already and really let the soil dry between waterings (usually does the trick for me) and go from there.

#5 gasificada

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Posted 05 October 2011 - 10:45 PM

I've only gave them Epsom Salt, also tried a tiny bit of coffee grounds over the soil in plant #1.

Maybe I have crappy soil, but I don't want to risk burning them with nutrients if it's not the case.

That might very well be your problem then. ;)

Does the soil already contain nutes? If not, it's definitely time for a feed! Start with a very low dose (1/4-1/5 dose) and slowly increase as your plants get bigger.

#6 Siliman

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Posted 05 October 2011 - 11:33 PM

+1 what Gas said. Emphasis on the very light application of any nutes like he said. More is not better at this stage.

Hard to say for sure, but that soil looks pretty coarse and chunky for starters. While drainage is good, the tiny lil root hairs can get held up by the bigger chunks. I think. (Cause I did it last year.... :cool: )

#7 fireface

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Posted 05 October 2011 - 11:50 PM

I had a similar problem earlier this year, mine caused by a combo of poor soil and overwatering.

The pale color in the leaves of 1 and 4 is from overwatering, it seems like it leeches the colour out of the seedlings. Plants that young can usually survive on the inherent nutrients in the soil, without any supplements.

What kind of soil do you had them in? search the forum for recommended soil options. once i changed my seedlings to a better seed mix they took off.

Best of luck

#8 gasificada

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Posted 06 October 2011 - 12:14 AM

The pale color in the leaves of 1 and 4 is from overwatering, it seems like it leeches the colour out of the seedlings.

Plus the brown stuff on one of the leaves of 1 leads me to believe the same thing. It's almost like it's rot or something (I dunno, but mine usually do the same thing when I over-water and eventually the whole leaf dies).

Plants that young can usually survive on the inherent nutrients in the soil, without any supplements.

Survive, yes, but you want your babies to flourish! ;)

Edited by gasificada, 06 October 2011 - 12:18 AM.


#9 CeQu

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Posted 06 October 2011 - 08:33 AM

Thanks everyone for your replies! The soil is indeed a bit chunky, and it has got no nutrients added. If I transplant them to better soil, is it better to remove the old soil, or just put the whole block of soil/roots in a new pot?

#10 harry

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Posted 06 October 2011 - 08:42 AM

Thanks everyone for your replies! The soil is indeed a bit chunky, and it has got no nutrients added. If I transplant them to better soil, is it better to remove the old soil, or just put the whole block of soil/roots in a new pot?


Last season I had a batch of plants that were stunted by bad potting mix. I carefully removed as much of the mix as possible to keep the damage to the roots to a minimum. I then potted them up in larger pots filled with a better potting mix. My plants showed signs of recovery within a month.

#11 Siliman

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Posted 06 October 2011 - 11:56 AM

I'm also wondering about your light levels. One hour of 'direct sun in the window' isn't much, but it depends on your supplemental lighting. Got a photo of your set up?

With that nice day time temp, is it possible to get them some outdoor time in a shady spot? 'Speckled' sunshine under a shade tree at 77F might jump start ya..... :cool: Just don't overdo anything in direct sun.

Since you have a bunch of plants, you might try a couple of different solutions and see what works best. Nothing better than running some experiments to try to sort out your grow.

#12 CeQu

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Posted 06 October 2011 - 02:01 PM

Bought some small pots, new soil and some nutes. I transplanted five of them too see if they like more root space, gave them a very diluted dose of nutrients (around 1/5 normal dilution) and left them outside -it's overcast but not cold. I will try with 15 plants outside, besides some big bushes so they get a bit of sun tomorrow. Will keep you informed!

Also, this is the improvised light setup I use during the night: 20W 6500K + 15W 2700K CFL's

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Edited by CeQu, 06 October 2011 - 02:03 PM.


#13 arolvl

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Posted 06 October 2011 - 02:32 PM

IMHO the plant is too small for those pots. The soil will take long time to dry and it will suffocate the root. Good luck :)

#14 kauaidundee

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Posted 06 October 2011 - 02:46 PM

I like to go with the little plastic seed starting cups (36 per tray) and them pot up as root ball requires. Posted Image

#15 Siliman

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Posted 06 October 2011 - 03:35 PM

Bought some small pots, new soil and some nutes. I transplanted five of them too see if they like more root space, gave them a very diluted dose of nutrients (around 1/5 normal dilution) and left them outside -it's overcast but not cold. I will try with 15 plants outside, besides some big bushes so they get a bit of sun tomorrow. Will keep you informed!

Nice job. Hang with what you got going and see what works best for you. Nice to try different things and possibly keep some originals as a control. You should know in a couple or three weeks--think in slow motion plant terms--don't expect overnight results. You're in a good position to learn about various factors and maybe you can pick out the things that helped. Enjoy those nice Spring days there, as the plants will.... :cool:

Edited by Siliman, 06 October 2011 - 03:43 PM.


#16 LGHT

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Posted 06 October 2011 - 03:51 PM

I wouldn't do ANY nutes not even 1/5 until they are at least 4-5" tall.

#17 OZZZ

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Posted 06 October 2011 - 04:02 PM

If there was no nutes in the soil thats probably the problem. Once they get a set or two of true leaves on them its time to hit them with a light dose of ferts. Get a cheap bottle of alaskan fish emulsion 5-1-1. You'll be happy you did. Its very hard to burn them with it and it helps them take right off. I usually pop seeds in small cups in plain soil with just a little worm castings mixed in the bottom of the cup. Once they get a set of leaves or two, I give them a decent dose of fish emulsion 5-1-1. Usually a teaspoonfull to a quart of water. They take right off and green up. I keep feeding fish emulsion every other watering after that until they get three or four sets of leaves. Then they go into 5"x5" square pots with a mix of soil, worm castings, blood meal, bone meal, kelp meal, and lime. Once they are 12" tall or so then they go straight into 3 or 5 gallon buckets with the same soil mix but with a bit more heafty dose of nutes.


The soil mix is pro-mix soil in a ratio of 50% soil, 25% perilite, 25% worm castings. To that I add 1 tablespoon each of blood meal, bone meal, kelp meal, green sand, and lime per gallon of soil. Then its pretty much just watering with straight water. Here and there Ill give some molasses waterings or worm casting tea, or maybe a fish/seaweed watering here and there but I dont add any more nutes really until after they've been in that mix for at least three months.

Another thing Ive really noticed to help, and this might sound weird, but if you take the leftover water you use when you cook ... to boil or steam vegetables, rice, or pasta ... and water your plants with that (once its cooled) ... they really love it! I dont know whats in it exactly but the starches and nutrients that get leached out of the grains/veggies really feeds the soil. It might be cuz I use castings so much that its of benefit. Im not sure.

Be careful with the coffee grounds, their very acidic and can drop your soil PH pretty quick ... which will make your plants seem like they arent getting nutes no matter how much you feed them. I stopped using coffee grounds on young plants. All the grounds go into the worm bin ;)

#18 patrick

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Posted 06 October 2011 - 05:33 PM

IMHO the plant is too small for those pots. The soil will take long time to dry and it will suffocate the root. Good luck :)


The size of your pots are fine. What kind of fertilizer are you using? Some could be too strong even at 20%. The fish fertilizer at 5-1-1 used at the same 20% rate should work beautifully.

Best of luck to you and welcome to the wonderful world of peppers.
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#19 CeQu

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Posted 06 October 2011 - 06:25 PM

I like to go with the little plastic seed starting cups (36 per tray) and them pot up as root ball requires.


Looking at your picture, it's clear that mine were not root-bound! Maybe re-potting was an exaggeration, although I think it can do no harm.

I wouldn't do ANY nutes not even 1/5 until they are at least 4-5" tall.


Oops! Already did... I guess I'll soon find out if it was indeed too much.

The size of your pots are fine. What kind of fertilizer are you using? Some could be too strong even at 20%. The fish fertilizer at 5-1-1 used at the same 20% rate should work beautifully.

Best of luck to you and welcome to the wonderful world of peppers.


I used 4-2-2 at 10%, plus Ascophyllum nodosum extract at 10%, making a 20% mix of nutes. Ascophyllum contains both macro and micro nutrients.

I'm so grateful for your responses! OZZZ, that was very informative, I left the coffee grounds out of the mix this time. It's great to get all this support from you guys :)


Have a nice day!

#20 gasificada

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Posted 06 October 2011 - 06:40 PM

I always hit my babies the second they hook with either a 1/4 strength dose of Chilli Focus or a 1/4 strength dose of a fish/seaweed/worm fert (10-2-6) I use and have never had any issues. I did however accidentally fry some babies with a 1/2 dose not so long agoI don't know where my mind was at the timebut even then they bounced back fairly quickly after a good flush.




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