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 Temperature. 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.
As a result, heat waves cause the plants to become stressed, often dropping flowers, drooping leaves, and drinking more water.
- Over-watering. Another mistake pepper growers often make is over-watering. Too much water is one of the worst 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 need more phosphorus 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 Seabird Guano or Fox Farm’s Tiger Bloom for better fruit setting at this stage.
- Phosphorus Deficiency. On the flip side, without enough phosphorus, peppers may struggle to produce pods. The recommended fertilizers above should help correct this 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 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.
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 peppers have been in their final spot outside for 2-4 weeks.
Keeping Peppers Happy
In general, keeping your pepper plants healthy should reduce all major issues. This includes flowers dropping, but also yellowing leaves, curling leaves, diseases and pests, and so much more.
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!
Tuesday 16th of August 2022
Here's a question i haven't been able to find an answer to. I have two scorpion pepper plants that are doing a great job surviving the Texas heat, but i haven't had a single pepper. They drop (assuming because of extreme temps. Will a pepper plant regrow a flower at one of the flower crotches (nodes?) if one has been there and already dropped? Or will it only grow flowers at new nodes? I know if i cut back a pepper plant and over winter it, new growth will generate new flowers. These plants are getting pretty large so i guess im asking do i cut them back now and try to spur some new growth before our long season is over, or let them go and assume only new growth will produce new flowers?
Saturday 20th of August 2022
You know, I have never actually tested this, but in my experience, most peppers seem to be able to re-sprout flowers from nodes. Some even produce multiple flowers from one node simultaneously, so I'd expect to see another flush of flowers once it cools off
Tuesday 5th of July 2022
I didn't get any seeds. I purchased them from Lowe's like I do every year. in 2020 and 2021 they were in a raised bed and did great. I've purchased 5 separate plants this year. All of them are doing the same thing. flowering like crazy but not one pepper. I can see where the flowers are pollinated...and a day or two after the flowers petals fall off..the entire bud drops off.
Wednesday 29th of June 2022
I'm about to give up. I have lost every single one of my flowers over the past two weeks. I recently had 3 fertilized baby peppers simply fall off two days after the petals fell off. I have no idea what to do. Temperatures have been in the mid to upper 80's during the day and in the mid to upper 60's at night. I give them around 6 hours of sun a day and have them sitting on my back concrete patio in 5 gallon plastic pots. I've used quality potting mix and quality organic fertilizer. Overall with three plants, I've only produced one measly reaper pepper. any thoughts?
Friday 1st of July 2022
Where did you get your seeds? We have actually grown reapers where the flowers were not producing pollen. The plants were deemed "infertile" and they basically gave us nothing. Check a newly-opened flower to see if any pollen is falling from the anthers. If they don't produce any pollen, and eventually just fall off, it may be the same situation. Try a new seed source next time :/
Sunday 26th of June 2022
In 2021 and 2020 I had reaper, ghost, and habanero plants in a raised bed. I bet I had 50+ peppers per plant.
This year I have 3 black plastic 5 gallon pots. I got the same type of plants from lowes and planted in the pots. The first 4-6 weeks they barely grew. I threw out the soil and got new and fertilized this time. Plants finally grew.
Now I’ve got flower buds everywhere but ALL OF THEM are falling off after pollination. I’ve also noticed that my ghosts leaves will start to droop after 30 minutes in the sun.
Could my issue be lack of watering?
Monday 27th of June 2022
Flower drop is mostly due to high heat, lack of pollination, or too much nitrogen
Tuesday 14th of June 2022
Hi there, Peppergeeks... thanks for all your great information! I planted a lot of peppers from seed and got quite a few bell peppers but... 1. Why are my peppers not as big as the ones in the shops? 2. Do bell pepper plants produce peppers year after year after year? Or is the first year great, the second year poor and then nothing after that? Thanks for all your advice, Regards, Jim
Tuesday 14th of June 2022
Hey Jim, so size comes down to the genetics of the plant, and the conditions in which they are grown. More light means bigger yields and often larger fruits as well. As for productivity over the years, yes they have the capacity to produce many years in a row. However, we haven't overwintered any bell pepper plants personally, we just start new plants from seed. So I'm not exactly sure how yield changes in successive years