Blossom end rot can be disheartening to see in your garden. You’ve worked all season long to take care of your plants, only to see the fruits turning brown and mushy on the ends.
Thankfully, you can take some measures to help your plants recover and produce healthy fruits going forward. Dealing with blossom end rot on pepper plants is simple, because the cause of the problem is usually the same.
What Causes Black Bottom on Peppers?
When you start seeing the ends of your peppers or tomatoes turning dark brown, you likely have Blossom End Rot. This is a condition that develops due to a calcium imbalance in the plant. Despite the name, it is not actually a bacterial rot, but rather a result of the plant’s inability to produce healthy skin on the fruits.
When your plants don’t have enough calcium, the tomatoes and peppers cannot effectively produce new skin. This causes dark, unhealthy vegetables to begin forming. Blossom end rot begins at the blossom side (or the bottom) of the fruit because that is where newer skin forms as the vegetables grow.
Despite the problem being a calcium deficiency in the plant, your soil probably doesn’t need more calcium. It is more likely that your plant is having trouble absorbing and using the calcium that is in the soil. This makes the solution to the problem a bit more tricky. However, the sooner you start taking action the more likely it is that your plants will recover.
How To Prevent Blossom End Rot
The best way to deal with blossom end rot is to do your best to prevent it from ever starting. There are many guides out there explaining the best way to get rid of the issue, but if you follow these guidelines, you will have the best chance of keeping it from ever happening.
- Don’t over-water (or under-water!). It is common for casual gardeners to over-water their plants. It is exciting to get outside and tend to your garden, I know! But watering too much can be catastrophic in a number of ways. If you soak your plants, they can become stressed by the excess moisture and develop blossom end rot. Over-watering can also cause cracking in tomatoes. Keep your soil moist but well-drained, and never soak the soil. Try using mulch on the surface of the soil to keep moisture levels evenly dispersed. Use a moisture level reader if you have a larger garden, as some areas can become more dry than others.
- Use the right fertilizer. Using a fertilizer that contains calcium will save you a lot of headaches. Be sure to read the ingredients in your fertilizer before buying to make sure it has a good balance of essential nutrients. Also, once your plant is producing fruits, try to reduce the amount of nitrogen. This element encourages more leafy growth, and can cause decreased yields.
- Rotate crops and soil. If you are using the same soil year after year, you need to make sure that you either rotate your crop location in your in-ground plants, or replace soil in potted plants. This will help ensure that the right nutrients are present each year and that nutrient uptake is more likely in your plants.
- Add crushed eggshells. If you are planting in the ground, work crushed eggshells into the soil before planting each year. Eggshells contain calcium and can help ensure that your soil is rich in this vital element, helping prevent blossom end rot.
- Test your PH. If you have a raised bed or in-ground garden, it is worthwhile to test your soil PH before planting each year. Depending on what you plan to grow, you can use soil additives to ensure optimal nutrient levels. Use a cheap meter to test your PH level, and reference this guide to find out the optimal soil PH level for a variety of common plants. Increase PH with lime or limestone, and decrease PH with sulfate. Be sure to wait 3 months after using additives, and test PH again before adding more.
- Choose hardy plant varieties. Through plant breeding, peppers and tomatoes have been hybridized to avoid common issues during growth. Some have increased resistance to water stress, and are thus less likely to develop blossom end rot. Read through the description of your seeds or transplant varieties before choosing which to grow in your garden.
Over time, your gardening routine will become second nature. These methods will be your best bet to avoid blossom end rot on pepper plants and tomatoes. However, following these measures will also help prevent a host of other common gardening issues, and will lead to healthier plants.
How To Cure Blossom End Rot
When you notice your peppers or tomatoes starting to form dark bottom ends, you need to take action as soon as possible. The longer you wait to fix blossom end rot issue, the less likely that you will end up with a healthy harvest during this growing season.
However, it is possible to restore your plants to good health.
In order to cure blossom end rot, you must introduce calcium to your plants, and help ensure plants are taking in the nutrients in the soil. Try these
Use Rot-Stop Solutions
Using a plant spray (like this one on Amazon) can be a short-term effective method for curing blossom end rot. This can be a first step in reversing blossom end rot on affected plants.
However, this is not a long term solution, as the issue is probably in the plant’s inability to absorb and use calcium from the soil.
Add Calcium To The Soil
There are a few ways to add calcium to your soil. One method is to amend your soil with bone meal before transplanting plants. We use this method every year and rarely have blossom end rot on our pepper plants.
One is to use lime or limestone, and water the ground with a mixture of the solution. This is an affordable method, and you can find these additives are your local hardware store or nursery. Follow the recommended mixture and water plants accordingly.
Another method for adding calcium is to use a fertilizer that has calcium, or supplement your fertilizing regimen with crushed eggshells. This is a longer term solution, but will help ensure that plants have a healthy amount of calcium during each watering session.
Help Plants Take In More Calcium
Blossom end rot is caused by a lack of calcium in the plants, but that does not necessarily mean that your soil doesn’t have the calcium required. The issue with adding calcium is that the soil may not need calcium, but rather the plants need help using the calcium.
In order to help remedy this, follow our steps for preventing blossom end rot on an ongoing basis. This includes things like consistent watering and rotating your crops.
Can You Eat Tomatoes or Peppers with Blossom End Rot?
While fruits with blossom end rot may appear to be ruined, it is completely safe to cut away the affected areas of the fruit and eat the rest. Blossom end rot is not a bacterial issue, and thus does not render your peppers and tomatoes inedible.
It is always good practice to inspect your fruits for any other signs of spoiling. If you see any fuzzy mold or insect damage, it may be your best bet to avoid eating. However, blossom end rot alone does not mean you have to throw away all of your veggies!
I hope this helps you take care of your blossom end rot on pepper plants at home. By keeping your soil healthy and following these guidelines, you’ll save yourself a lot of stress. Happy gardening!