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Reaper, new grower - sudden drooping of shoots, other symptoms

carolina reaper troubleshooting container grown

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#1 Sotto

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Posted 24 June 2019 - 01:15 PM

Hello, new user, recent ghost/stalker/peruser who googled through forum posts looking for help with my babies! And believe me, I wouldn't have made an account if I wasn't alarmed by what just happened...
 
So as I mention in my introduction post, I'm a first-time grower. Not just of pepper plants or superhots, but of anything, in general. I have only ever plucked from other people's gardens (namely my mother's and my grandma's), and have never been personally in charge of my own living greenery.
 
Long story short, someone dropped some carolina reaper pods in my lap, I wondered if I could grow them, and some seedlings actually germinated, but of the 10 that I started with only one really survived to be taller than a foot in height and she is my precious baby! I did a lot of reading to get an idea of what I was in for (most of which were forum threads here! Thanks, guys.), and tried a lot of different things, and now my baby is in trouble. 
 
Illus. A: The baby, on stilts
 

THE SETUP: Amateur hour, and almost no direct sun.

> 3.5 gallon pot (thought it was a 5 gallon at the time; it's going into a bigger pot in July) 

> Apartment has one tiny bedroom window that faces south, majority of apartment faces west. Lots of afternoon light, direct sun only appears at late afternoon. 

>>> None of that matters, because the plant is hiding under a table, where I can shine grow lights on it for 16 hours/day.

> Two fluorescent daylight bulbs, rated 5000K, 1300 lumens each. 

> MG potting soil, mixed with 10% perlite; one small handful of epsom salt at last transplant

> Transplanted to current pot about 4 months ago, mid-March. 

> Also at last transplant: Jobe's Organic Fertilizer Spikes, 4 buried around the edges of the pot. 

> Soil is lightly drenched with filtered water on the weekends, just before lights out. Never both days, just once (i.e. Saturday or Sunday, never Saturday AND Sunday). 

> Epsom salt foliar spray every other weekend (1/4 tsp + 10 oz. room temp water) 

 

THE MAJOR SYMPTOM: Drooping shoots.

Illus. B: Drooping leaf (6/23)
Illus. C: Main stem tied to stake to prevent toppling over (6/23) 

Illus. D: Roughly how the tallest shoot looked last night (6/23) 

Illus. E: How the same tallest shoot looks now, without supports (6/24, this morning) 
 
About two months ago I learned about topping! And yes, I know there is some controversy about the hows and how comes, but long story short my plant was just one stem and I thought it could do better. But the end result was that instead of one tall shoot, I got three medium-tall shoots and of course the normal amount of budding leaves along the main stem. PRIOR TO TODAY, all three shoots were very nice and sturdy! They reached up for my grow lights, and sprang back eagerly when I shook them a little for exercise. 

 

YESTERDAY: When I touched my reaper for its daily exercise, I noticed that the stem was drooping to one side a bit, as if the two taller shoots were weighing it down. I gave the plant its exercise anyways but that didn't seem to help, so I plugged a stake on the opposite side and tied it to the main stem to help it stay upright (see Illus. C). Other than that, the plant got about 8-10 hours of grow light time (came home late, stayed over at a friend's place) and about 2.5 hours of afternoon sunlight. Some leaves fell off when I shuffled the pot out from under the table and back again, but I chalked it up to coincidence. 

 

THIS MORNING: When I went to turn on the grow lights for this morning, I immediately noticed that the tallest shoot was drooping down (see Illus. E). In a panic, I plucked out some more stakes, split the tips, and propped up any drooping shoots. I repeat, this was an overnight occurrence. I had already done my weekend drench on Saturday morning before I left, so the soil is still quite wet. 

EDIT: Also, as I was checking the soil, my hand brushed up against a bunch of lower leaves and they immediately fell off the plant!

 

OTHER NOTABLE SYMPTOMS: Amateur hour 2, crumple salad
> New leaves come out "crumpled" and the spaces between the veins puff up. 

>>>> Calcium deficiency? 

> New leaves (shoots) look like a paler green; Old leaves (big leaves off main stem) are much much darker, shiny, droop down a lot. 

>>>> Phosphorus deficiency?

> Leaves along the bottom of the plant (stem off-shoots, older leaves) tend to break off very easily, despite being very green 

> Some older leaves have light brown spots intermittently between veins on the underside of the leaf. 

> Any additional water drains right through the pot and into the water catching lip. 

 

I do apologize for the long post (imagine how much longer it would've been if I'd embedded images?), and I would appreciate any help!! Thank you so much in advance!


Edited by Sotto, 24 June 2019 - 01:21 PM.


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#2 solid7

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Posted 24 June 2019 - 01:43 PM

Sounds first like overwatering.  Stop watering, immediately, and don't water again until the potting mix is dry.  #1 rookie mistake

.

Do you have a fan on the plant?  If not, you need one.  24 hours per day, while it's inside. 

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Also, I'd encourage you to stop spraying epsom salt.  This is really and truly unnecessary.  If you're going to feed the plant, concentrate on feeding it where it's designed to take up nutrients - in the root zone.  You are not calcium deficient.  Very few growers get a calcium deficiency, but for some reason, it's always the first suspect.  

.

Phosphorus deficiency is probably the LEAST common of all deficiencies.  It's the nutrient that is required in the least quantity.  Misconceptions about its necessity often arise from trying to compare container culture with soil growing. (phosphorus is hugely plentiful in soil, but not necessarily available, or seasonally more/less available)  You are not phosphorus deficient.

.

Summary - stop watering so much, get a fan on.


Dave2000 - "Problem is, you happened upon the REAL DEAL."

#3 Sotto

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Posted 24 June 2019 - 01:54 PM

Oh yes, thank you for the reminder. I do have a fan on; a tiny USB fan is trained on my baby, on the same power supply as the grow lights. (Flip switch: turn on/off both lights and fan.) 

 

I should mention a couple more environmental factors: the apartment does not get very warm. It might get up to 82 or 85 on a sunny day, but tends not to leave 75 with the AC off. The AC gets turned on at night because cold bedrooms are the best, which drops the entire apartment down to 68, even though we set it for 73. The way that the vents are positioned, I am almost positive cold air is being blown right onto the plant, but there's not much I can do until we move out at the end of the week. 

 

Currently, I am letting the pot dry out and have turned off both lights, on the advice of this article I found for overwatered plants. I am also throwing out any water I see pooling around the bottom of the pot. 

 

I based my assumptions about nutrient deficiencies on this article, which was sourced in a different thread on this forum.



#4 solid7

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Posted 24 June 2019 - 01:59 PM

Your temps are fine.  Good, in fact.  USB fan might be a little underpowered.  BUT, it's something.  Just get the plant dry, and be much more conservative about watering.  Leaf drop and wilt are dead giveaways of overwatering.

.

For the time being, please do not trouble yourself with nutrient deficiency guides.  I am still amazed at how many gardeners who have been at this for a long time, can't properly diagnose plant problems.  If we're thinking with a one-dimensional mind, a nutrient deficiency guide is always the go-to.  But, more often, we need to really look at all factors, and get down to a deeper issue.  Even what appears to be the sure appearance of nutrient deficiency, isn't always a deficiency. 


Dave2000 - "Problem is, you happened upon the REAL DEAL."

#5 Harry_Dangler

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Posted 24 June 2019 - 05:28 PM

Your temps are fine.  Good, in fact.  USB fan might be a little underpowered.  BUT, it's something.  Just get the plant dry, and be much more conservative about watering.  Leaf drop and wilt are dead giveaways of overwatering.

.

For the time being, please do not trouble yourself with nutrient deficiency guides.  I am still amazed at how many gardeners who have been at this for a long time, can't properly diagnose plant problems.  If we're thinking with a one-dimensional mind, a nutrient deficiency guide is always the go-to.  But, more often, we need to really look at all factors, and get down to a deeper issue.  Even what appears to be the sure appearance of nutrient deficiency, isn't always a deficiency. 

That's some sage advice.  I would say from my experience at least 80% of the issues I've had (in 35+ years) have been water related in one way or another.  


Many people have eaten food from my kitchen and have gone on to lead normal, healthy lives. 


#6 The_NorthEast_ChileMan

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Posted 24 June 2019 - 06:00 PM

I'm just trying a whole bunch of different things, seeing what sticks to the wall, but I'm learning a lot!

.I wouldn't recommend trying this again. How would you know what worked or didn't?


"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." - Albert Einstein 


#7 Doelman

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Posted 25 June 2019 - 08:55 AM

So there's a tray underneath it that catches water, are there grooves in the tray?  Does the bottom of the pot make contact with the pool of water in the tray?  How long does that tray stay wet?  If the bottom of that pot is sitting in water too long, you could been dealing with some root rot issues.



#8 Sotto

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Posted 25 June 2019 - 12:43 PM

.I wouldn't recommend trying this again. How would you know what worked or didn't?

If it works, it works. If it doesn't, I need a new plant. 

 

So there's a tray underneath it that catches water, are there grooves in the tray?  Does the bottom of the pot make contact with the pool of water in the tray?  How long does that tray stay wet?  If the bottom of that pot is sitting in water too long, you could been dealing with some root rot issues.

There are grooves in the tray that elevate the pot slightly. Thankfully the water has slowed down to a drip, and there is no longer a pool in the tray!

 

Also, Update: It got worse

 

rsPCLCN.jpg

 

This is going to be a long 1-2 weeks of not watering and biting my nails...



#9 solid7

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Posted 25 June 2019 - 12:51 PM

You should really get that plant outdoors, in a shady area.


Dave2000 - "Problem is, you happened upon the REAL DEAL."

#10 Sotto

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Posted 25 June 2019 - 12:55 PM

You should really get that plant outdoors, in a shady area.

 

Like I mentioned, everything has to wait until the end of this week. My current apartment (lease ends on Saturday) doesn't have a balcony or communal growing space. I can't move into my new apartment (lease started first Saturday of this month) until Friday at the earliest, due to my fiancee's heavy DC workload; once it lets up, we're moving all the plants over to our nice big new balcony and repot the seedling tomatoes and jalapeno plants. 

 

This was not a great time to screw up my watering schedule!

 

EDIT: Balcony is roofed and north-facing. I hope the corner by the screen door is shady enough to help it recover...


Edited by Sotto, 25 June 2019 - 12:57 PM.


#11 solid7

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Posted 25 June 2019 - 02:02 PM

Well, then...  bigger fan.  You're really running out of options, here.


Dave2000 - "Problem is, you happened upon the REAL DEAL."





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