In a single year, one pepper plant may produce hundreds of individual flower buds. Some of them will be fertilized and become pepper pods, while others will drop from the plant. In this article, we’ll discuss pepper plant flowers falling off and why it happens.
Why Are Pepper Flowers Falling Off?
There are several causes for excessive flower drop on pepper plants. We’ll go through some common reasons for pepper plant flowers falling off here.
Note: Some flower drop is natural. Pepper plants produce more flowers than needed to be more attractive to pollinators. This ensures that at least some flowers are fertilized.
- High temperatures. One of the most common causes of pepper flowers dropping is high temperature. Although peppers can tolerate very high temperatures (100°F+), they thrive in moderately warm climates (around 70-80°F).
As a result, heat waves can cause plants to become stressed. The result is often flower drop, drooping leaves, and more water usage.
- Over-watering. Another mistake pepper growers often make is over-watering. Too much water in the soil is one of the biggest threats to a healthy pepper plant. It can cause a variety of issues, one being flowers falling off.
Peppers require even watering throughout their entire life cycle. Water retention is better with healthy soil. Keep your soil happy and alive with organic material (compost, fish fertilizer, manure, alfalfa pellets, etc.).
Read more about watering pepper plants here.
- Poor pollination. In order for a pepper flower to become a pepper fruit, the flower needs to be fertilized. This means that a grain of pollen must be accepted into the flower’s pistil.
Typically, bees and other insect pollinators will take care of this naturally. However, if you are growing indoors or in an isolated location outdoors, pollination rates can be low.
Try shaking the plants during flowering to encourage the release of pollen. Indoors, running a small fan can help, along with brushing the flowers by hand each day.
- Excess nitrogen. Nitrogen is an essential nutrient for all plant growth. However, too much of it can cause plants to abort fruiting to produce more leaves. Instead, peppers use more potassium and calcium to produce healthy buds and fruits.
For this reason, we recommend reducing fertilizer or switching to a low-nitrogen blend during the blooming stage of growth.
Try Fox Farm’s Tiger Bloom for better fruit setting at this stage.
- Phosphorus or potassium deficiency. On the flip side, without enough phosphorus or potassium, peppers may struggle to produce pods. The recommended fertilizers above should help correct any potential deficiency.
- Inconsistent humidity. Humidity levels can decrease the viability of pollen grains. The ideal humidity will vary by pepper type. For example, New Mexican varieties prefer more arid climates, while superhot C. chinense varieties like higher humidity. Do some research on your particular pepper variety to learn more about its origins and what climate suits it best.
If none of the above issues are causing your pepper flowers to fall off, consider what else may be stressing your plants. Is it extremely windy? Is it raining too much? Too little? Were the plants properly hardened off when they moved outside? Any of these stresses could be your culprit.
Pepper Plant Growth Stages
It may be helpful to have an overview of the pepper plant stages of growth. First, the seeds will sprout into seedlings. During this stage, they require strong light for 16-18 hours per day. Seedlings are eventually transplanted into larger pots before moving outdoors in full sun.
Once pepper plants reach a mature size, they should begin to produce flowers. The flowering/fruiting stage is the ‘final’ stage of growth for peppers.
Each variety can produce a limited number of fruits at any given time. For example, bell pepper plants may only have 4-6 pods on the plant at a time. Aji charapita peppers may have hundreds of fruits on a plant.
When To Pick Pepper Flowers
If your pepper plants are producing flowers when they are too young, we recommend plucking them. The best way to avoid premature flowering is to upsize the plant’s container at the right time.
Learn more about transplanting peppers here.
Evenly water and keep the soil fertile until the plants are outdoors in their final location. Stop plucking flowers after the plants have been in their final spot outside for 2-4 weeks.
Keeping Peppers Happy
Learn more about growing peppers here to avoid many of these common issues.
Here are some of our major recommendations for keeping peppers happy.
- Enrich the soil. If you have ground soil, add compost, manure or other organic material every year. This keeps the good bacteria within the soil healthy, leading to better water retention, nutrient uptake and general plant health for your peppers. For potted plants, organic fertilizer will work.
- Water evenly. Never water too much, and allow for water to drain away from the pepper’s root system. Soaking wet pepper plants will effectively drown, causing many problems.
- Pick ripe fruits. Whenever your pepper plants produce a ripe pod, pick it. This will encourage the plants to continue producing until the season ends.
- Watch for pests. Pests, like aphids, can wreak havoc on pepper plants. Keep a sharp eye out for pests and try to prevent them altogether by growing plants that attract beneficial insects to your garden.
- Bottom prune to avoid disease. Keep the lower branches pruned back to stop soil from splashing onto your plants during watering or rainfall. Soil can be home to infectious diseases that can harm your plants. Staking and bottom pruning are great methods to prevent this.
I hope this article helps you determine why your pepper plant flowers are falling off. Some pepper buds dropping is completely normal, but proper care will help get better harvests. Good luck!