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Topping and Pruning Help

So I'm completely new to this. I've already topped these twice and they seem to be doing very well. They were all started from seed on Jan 31, 2020 and it's now 3/16/2020. So should I keep topping or do any pruning or let them be until they flower?
 
First one is Large Cayenne, second is Orange Habanero, third is scotch bonnet and last is Ghost.
 

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Ok just noticed that there might be some flower buds.
 
So,
1. Are they acutally flower buds?
2. If so should I pluck them off now?
 
Pic 1 is a close up of the Large Cayenne and pic 2 is the ghost pepper.
 

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Hey, Cartierusm.  Good to see your grow progressing.
 
Cayenne, yes, they're flower buds.  Ghost, I don't think so.  Looks like cutting stubs and emerging node growth to me. 
 
For an annuum it's not uncommon to see flower buds on this time-frame, especially in Kratky. The faster growing annuum in my current grow (soil) were producing buds at this age.
 
Personally I'm a big fan of topping pepper plants so they are more bushy, not tall gangly and prone to breakage. Also the energy can go into developing the fruit and not growing long branches. 
 
Reapers at around the 50 day mark started from seed in the Aerogarden,
 
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3 weeks later:
 
3 weeks.jpg

 
 
 
So just checking, but you all are saying to not prune any leaves off? I'm fine with that just want reassurance. It's quite bushy.
 
 

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Any know what's wrong with these leaves? First pic is my scotch bonnet, second is ghost. There's only a few leaves on each plant like that. A couple on the cayenne too.
 

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I'm against topping and pruning unless there is spacial concern. They just grow runners on the sides and are more robust without topping. I have a 2+ foot super bushy 7JPN growing hydroponically with runners coming from the bottom and tons of flowers. Light just needs to reach there. I wouldn't prune it unless it starts growing away from the light source or into it.
 
Edit: Those are also being pruned way to early. I can see maybe topping if you don't get a fork at 1 foot. Maybe with lack of light it may be helpful, but the growth will be even slower. It's better to improve lighting. Never had an issue with stems not being strong. Again that could be from a lighting issue.
 
Dulac said:
I'm against topping and pruning unless there is spacial concern.
 
I pretty much agree with this.  There are definitely circumstances of special concern, but I typically prune/top by exception, or proactively when I know the growth habits of the variety and limitations of my environment.  A common example for me are various wild varieties that tend to grow tall first, then bushy later.  This can be a concern for me indoors, based either on headroom or because the intensity of many lights drops off precipitously over a short distance and, if raised to accommodate the height of the plant, the lower lateral nodes won't have satisfactorily intense light by the time they start to develop.
 
In your current situation, I would remove a few leaves from the crowded areas of the bushier plants. I think you're at risk of excessive humidity within the plant and should increase the air exchange.  Increased humidity raises the chance of infection by many pathogens, including fungal and bacterial leaf spot, which you may (or may not) be starting to experience.  I don't know if you're using a fan, but as long as it isn't set to blow on them continuously, some increased air movement might help if you're not doing it already.  Oscillating fans running for 5 or 10 minutes a couple/few times a day are great for this and even a non-oscillating fan (not aimed directly at, but near the plants) will help.  When you remove leaves, use care to sanitize (isopropyl alcohol is my preference) the cutting tool between plants (especially the one with the funky leaves, which I'd cut last to be safe) to avoid communication of pathogens.
 
My recommendation:  remove the bad leaves (last in order), remove a few leaves in the denser areas - but not too many. Increase air flow if appropriate.  Learn to prune by first not pruning. Use the experience of learning how different varieties behave in different circumstances and what conditions you want to prevent in the future by pruning.
 
Ok thanks a bunch. I'll do that.
 
I've had an oscillating fan on since I transplanted them to the hydro system. It's on constantly, but it's blowing above the light so they get a nice, very gentle breeze and it's not humid in there at all.
 
Good deal.  I'll move mine to blow across the plants for a few minutes while I'm visiting them to strengthen the main stem and branches.  It doesn't take longer than 2 or 3 minutes of a gentle fan oscillating across them to get real benefits. 
 
CaneDog said:
 
I pretty much agree with this.  There are definitely circumstances of special concern, but I typically prune/top by exception, or proactively when I know the growth habits of the variety and limitations of my environment.  A common example for me are various wild varieties that tend to grow tall first, then bushy later.  This can be a concern for me indoors, based either on headroom or because the intensity of many lights drops off precipitously over a short distance and, if raised to accommodate the height of the plant, the lower lateral nodes won't have satisfactorily intense light by the time they start to develop.
 
In your current situation, I would remove a few leaves from the crowded areas of the bushier plants. I think you're at risk of excessive humidity within the plant and should increase the air exchange.  Increased humidity raises the chance of infection by many pathogens, including fungal and bacterial leaf spot, which you may (or may not) be starting to experience.  I don't know if you're using a fan, but as long as it isn't set to blow on them continuously, some increased air movement might help if you're not doing it already.  Oscillating fans running for 5 or 10 minutes a couple/few times a day are great for this and even a non-oscillating fan (not aimed directly at, but near the plants) will help.  When you remove leaves, use care to sanitize (isopropyl alcohol is my preference) the cutting tool between plants (especially the one with the funky leaves, which I'd cut last to be safe) to avoid communication of pathogens.
 
My recommendation:  remove the bad leaves (last in order), remove a few leaves in the denser areas - but not too many. Increase air flow if appropriate.  Learn to prune by first not pruning. Use the experience of learning how different varieties behave in different circumstances and what conditions you want to prevent in the future by pruning.
 
The plant is absolutely perfect. Good genes I think. It's in pristine condition(no leaves dropped, diseased, or got damaged). The main stem looks very sturdy and woody at the base.The only issue with it is the plant is too wide for the light source. It's ok though, I'm putting it outside today :) . I have good airflow, since I cannot stand not having a fan going despite the temperature. 
 
I plan to put c. galapagoense in there after I move the plants out. The others are also doing well but are much younger. I wouldn't top that species since I would be worried it'd send it in shock. I've never topped any of my wilds.
 
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