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container Questions about two 1 year old Fatalii pepper plants in containers

I don't have a digital camera or phone so the best I can do is explain using measurements. 
 
Last March I started some Fatalii seeds and got 2 plants. One is in a Folgers 39 oz plastic container that measures 5 1/2" X 5 1/2", the plant is 27" tall with a 32" wide canopy. The other is in a Folgers 24 oz plastic container that measures 6" wide by 4" deep, the plant is 25" tall with a 25" wide canopy. The leaves are only on the outer half of the branches so both plants are bare stalk and branches on the bottom with leaves at the ends of branches. They were out on the deck all summer and on warm Fall days. The plants had lots of dark green leaves all season. By mid November I took them in and have kept them in a large South facing window where they have done amazingly well growing a lot over the past 6 months. I have fertilized them with Neptune's Harvest Fish and Seaweed emulsion once a week since May 2020. In 2020 I harvested a total of 101 pods but they are only 1" to 1 1/2" long, I assume they are stunted due to the plants being so root bound. From January to today I have hand pollenated flowers harvesting an additional 36 pods. So far this has been far more successful than I ever imagined! I've been an organic gardener for 3 decades so I have a lot of experience growing all types of vegetables in the garden but containers have been used only for Parsley and Eggplant so container growing is new to me. 
 
Here is my concern. Around early February as the sun got higher in the sky the small new leaves would turn yellow and drop off. By early March, both plants had dropped a lot of leaves and the larger leaves were not dark green anymore, they are a pale green and slowly they have started to fall off too. I have been putting them out on the deck on warm days for a month thinking direct sun would get the leaves dark green but it is not happening. 2 weeks ago I started to use a stronger solution of Neptune's Harvest thinking more fertilizer would help but so far there is no change in the color of the leaves. In a month, I should be able to leave the plants out all day on the deck. I realize that November through March is not exactly strong sun with short days but the plants were doing fine until early February which surprised me as the sun was higher in the sky so more direct and for longer hours, yet that is when the yellowing and dropping of leaves started. 
 
I just read all 9 pages of the thread from 2013 to 2019 about topping and pruning peppers. Personally, I never cut out suckers on tomatoes because more leaves means more photosynthesis and more shade which prevents sun scald and supposedly sweeter fruits but tomatoes, despite being in the same family as peppers, are not peppers. Would my 2 Fatalii plants benefit from cutting back the branches? Remember, all the leaf growth is at the last half of each branch so it would mean losing all the foliage! I hate to lose these 2 plants as they start their 2nd year but I am concerned about the sparse foliage and the pale green vs dark green leaves. 
 
Any ideas?
 

CaneDog

Extreme Member
Despite the good description, It's hard to suggest good ideas without seeing the plants.  I'd be thinking about either potting up to larger containers with the addition of new, quality potting media or root pruning to decrease the size of the root ball and adding media to the existing containers in the space created.  If I root prune, I definitely evaluate whether I think the remaining root mass is adequate to support the foliage and typically prune back at least into balance. I really can't think of a situation off the top of my head where I'd root prune without also pruning up top.  Either way, I'd look to get good new media around the roots.
 
If I were deciding whether to prune and how far back, I'd look for activity at the growth nodes and how far back (toward the center of the plant and down the stem) the nodes appear active - or at least healthy and potentially active.  I'd also consider how strong I think the plant is, so how much of a cut-back I think it can take and still bounce back. A healthy plant stores a good amount of energy in its roots and they can often bounce back from being cut back severely.  However, the plants will likely be at a weaker point currently, because of relying on their energy stores through the winter.  From what I read, I'd be looking to prune - and probably a good bit back - I just hate to say that without actually seeing the plants.
 
Whatever you decide to do, good luck with them.  It's sounds like you've had great results and I hope they can keep it up for at least another season.
 
Thanks for the reply, I know a picture can mean a lot. My sister is stopping by today, maybe I can get some pictures. The shape of the Folgers containers has indentations so they are not straight walled. I tried to pull them out but no way do they even budge so due to that it is impossible to pull the plants out. Maybe cut through the roots so the root ball is 2-3" narrower to pull it out and add new soil? Since they have done so well and especially during the late Fall and all Winter when I thought I'd see this type of problem due to lack of sun (I heat with wood so it is plenty warm in here), I just assumed they'd be fine this season. I didn't want to put them in the garden cuz I assumed I'd have these 2 plants for many years since they are a perennial. 
 
tjg911 said:
The shape of the Folgers containers has indentations so they are not straight walled. I tried to pull them out but no way do they even budge so due to that it is impossible to pull the plants out. Maybe cut through the roots so the root ball is 2-3" narrower to pull it out and add new soil? 
 
Isn't the container plastic?
 
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Yes the walls are straight but see the indentations? I was trying to save the 2 containers. I can cut them but then I don't have something to put them in. Yes I can buy 2 containers but....
 
Anyway I have pictures to upload. They are 2-3M in size... is there a size limit on uploaded pictures. 5 of one plant and 6 of the other.
 
tjg911 said:
Yes the walls are straight but see the indentations? I was trying to save the 2 containers. I can cut them but then I don't have something to put them in. Yes I can buy 2 containers but....
 
Anyway I have pictures to upload. They are 2-3M in size... is there a size limit on uploaded pictures. 5 of one plant and 6 of the other.
 
You can use Imgur if you have any problems.  It's free.
 
OK here are the pictures of the larger Fatalii. The tape measure is at 24". I have no idea why these are sideways! I rotated the 1st image and it uploaded the same way. 
 
 

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These pictures are of the smaller Fatalii.
 
In both sets of pictures, some healthy foliage and yellowing is shown. Also, I tried to show the size of the plants along with the lower half of each plant.
 
I hope this helps. It is the best pictures we got and despite the size (3MB) in the folder on the C drive they loaded as a fraction of that size here. Imgur is something I never used, I don't see me using it since I don't have a means to take digital pictures. Anyway... 
 
Thank you for any ideas. I am hoping that a stronger solution of Neptune's Harvest Fish and Seaweed emulsion will get the leaves greening up and the plant growing some more especially in the coming weeks when I can get the plants outside during the day when it's 65° and above. To be honest, I am happy with the size of both plants now, I wish I knew about topping last Fall but these plants have produced pods continuously since early July before I started to hand pollenate them in January so cutting the branches back would have been a problem when they had lots of peppers on them. If worse comes to worse, I have the option of putting them into the garden.
 
I have 4 Brown Morugas that are going into the garden so space is limited. I have 2 Brown Morugas, 2 Trinidad Congo and 2 7 Pot Cinder that I'm putting into 2 quart pots on the deck for the entire season and would like to keep 1 of each inside picking peppers all Winter like I did this Winter with the 2 Fataliis. 
 
 
 

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CaneDog

Extreme Member
Cool to see pictures of them.  They look better than I thought with a bunch of nice green on them.  I suspect if you go along with them as is they'll likely do okay once the weather turns, though I doubt they'll produce to potential without at least repotting. 
 
If it were me, I'd look to cut them out of the coffee containers and pot them up a bit larger with good soil or stick them directly in the garden.  That should give them another good year of production.  Even if they survive longer, it's a challenge to get more than a couple good years of production out of most varieties of pepper plants.
 
Yeah I am thinking that they probably won't live beyond this summer anyway, no over wintering again. They have a huge head start being so large so putting them into the ground in late May should yield a lot of fruits of normal size. I'm thinking that is my best option, not what I planned but it is what it is!
 
I started Fatalii seeds in late September several years ago to see what kind of germination I'd get. I couldn't toss them and by late November I had to bring my grow light stand upstairs as keeping them in a window was just not an option due to clouds. I grew them all Winter and by Spring they were about 6" tall and grew quite large with lots of pods and these 2 plants are far larger than those where come Spring. Thanks for the info.
 
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