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overwintering Tiny leaves tiny peppers on overwintered plants

Hey all,
 
I'm blessed with the weather of southern California, and 'overwintering' means I just don't have to worry about watering plants for a couple of months.  I started a bunch of plants in containers last year that did really well.  We had a really mild winter this year and the peppers didn't even fully drop their leaves.  I didn't pre-emptively cut them back at all.  Some small branches on some plants died off, and I cut those back.
 
The problem I'm encountering is that now that things are coming fully back to life, all of last years plants are growing dense clusters of leaves that never get big, and same with the fruit their putting out.  I've got a ton of shishitos, habaneros, and thai chillies that get ripe without growing bigger than the size of my fingertip.
 
Plants are all in either 7 or 10 gallon fabric pots filled with Kellog's potting mix and a few scoops of homemade compost.  Now that temps are up (highs of 70-90, lows 55-60), they're getting water every 3-5 days, depending on temps.  They'll get a bit of liquid fertilizer once a month, at most.  The shishito plant had a pretty bad aphid infestation recently so I gave everything a spray with insecticidal soap and diatomaceous earth around the base of the plants.
 
There's a yellow Carolina Reaper plant, which I think produced a single pepper last year, which is ironically the only plant developing full size fruit.  Still has small leaves like everything else though.
 
Any ideas on what might be going on, and what might help me get fruit growing to full size?
 
Here's some pictures of my Red Savina hab. plant that demonstrates the dense, tiny foliage and tiny fruit:
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Sorry I have no help but I'll share my experience.
 
My OW's will do a similar thing some years but that's from being stuck in a shelter with not much light. They always get in gear as soon as I put them outside in the light.
 
Where I see the really tiny new leaves and fruit is when I put pre-winter cuttings in water and leave them sit in the south windows all winter to root.
 
this may not have anything to do with the way the plants are growing now but i would stay away from the kellogg's products. i let a home depot employee talk me into buying some one year and didn't like it. the plants may just need a little more time and they may resume normal growth.
 

CaneDog

Extreme Member
Sometimes when you don't prune the plants back OW they will be growing simultaneously from so many growth nodes that they don't seem to have enough energy to support proper growth - plants can lose a lot of energy OW, so they tend to come out without a lot extra.  The new growth is stunted and it takes extra time before the it can produce enough energy to grow normally.  Add aphids into this scenario and you have a big problem because they love to feed on all that high nitrogen soft new growth, further retarding development and sapping energy.
 
Contrast this to the opposite situation, when you severely cut back a strong plant.  Then the plant has too much energy for limited growth nodes and you get these super long aggressively growing shoots.
 
I will often prune my plants back coming out of OW, if I didn't do it going in, to reduce the growth locations to a reasonable number and help the plant get a good start.
 
EDIT:  Damn, NECM, those are some beautiful red Jalapenos!
 
CaneDog said:
Sometimes when you don't prune the plants back OW they will be growing simultaneously from so many growth nodes that they don't seem to have enough energy to support proper growth - plants can lose a lot of energy OW, so they tend to come out without a lot extra.  The new growth is stunted and it takes extra time before the it can produce enough energy to grow normally.  Add aphids into this scenario and you have a big problem because they love to feed on all that high nitrogen soft new growth, further retarding development and sapping energy.
 
Contrast this to the opposite situation, when you severely cut back a strong plant.  Then the plant has too much energy for limited growth nodes and you get these super long aggressively growing shoots.
 
I will often prune my plants back coming out of OW, if I didn't do it going in, to reduce the growth locations to a reasonable number and help the plant get a good start.
 
EDIT:  Damn, NECM, those are some beautiful red Jalapenos!
 
Hmm, that sounds plausible.  I've had some form of chili plant in the ground since I moved in here ~8 years ago and they typically survive 4-5 years before they don't make it through a winter.  I also wasn't really doing anything but watering them.  They'd always have the small, dense leaves problem - which I previously chalked up to our mediocre soil and my general lack of care.  But I never had the tiny-pepper problem before.
 
At this point I think I'll just leave the container plants alone and hope they sort themselves out - unless anyone has solid advice otherwise, and make sure to give them a healthy pruning this winter.
 
Fallis said:
 
Any ideas on what might be going on, and what might help me get fruit growing to full size?
 
Here's some pictures of my Red Savina hab. plant that demonstrates the dense, tiny foliage and tiny fruit:
 
To me, looks like text book mite damage, broad mites. They mite have hitched a ride in on the aphids legs... Neem to the rescue..?
 
  Unfortunately I've battled them many times, and dealt with small fruit, small deformed leaves, slow/no new growth, plant soon too shut down.
      Broad mites are evil, their toxic saliva stays around for weeks after they're terminated causing continued deformed small/no growth. I prune off all that small deformed growth so the new growth has more energy. As that small deformed growth will never 'heal' and is worthless to the plant and you and has mite toxin hanging around in it...
 
Around here if you got aphids, good chance you have broad mites.
 
You'll need 40x power to see if the little bastards are munching on your peppers....
 
check with a scope to verify....
 
jmo


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