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by chris
(cuba, new york)

Last year I grew several types of bell peppers, sweet red, green and yellow, I had very nice looking plants but very few peppers. This is not the first time this has happened. Any ideas why?

Drought Smart Plants reply:

Hi Chris,

If your pepper plants are lush and green this means that they are getting lots of nitrogen from the soil. This can also indicate that they are getting less potassium and phosphorous, which promote flowering and fruit production.

Peppers also love warmth, and if your conditions are cooler, or there is a dramatic difference in day and night temperatures, this can prevent flowers from setting.

Oddly enough this can also be a result of extremely warm temperatures as the pollen is damaged when it’s too hot.

I’ve also noted that in rainy conditions, bees and other pollinators won’t be flying, and as peppers require pollination by insects, this will also prevent fruit set.

You can’t do a lot about the temperatures, except to cover the plants at night if the temperatures dip, but you can manually pollinate the flowers with a small paint brush to transfer the pollen from one flower to another.

In some cases, certain pepper varieties require a longer season to ripen, so even if they can set fruit, you may not get any ripe ones. If you grow your own plants from seed, check for those that only require 60 to 80 days from transplanting so they have time to ripen.

Peppers are one of the most nutritious vegetables, as well as one of the best tasting, so it’s well worth figuring out how to grow the best peppers (the fruit) in your conditions.