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. 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.