There are a dizzying, glorious number of pepper types which makes them fun to grow. Despite differences in color, shape and flavor, peppers are all warm-season veggies and, as such, need at least six hours of sun to produce fruit. Even when that requirement is met, sometimes there will be no flowers or fruit on the peppers. This leads to the question, “Why are my pepper plants not producing?”
Why are My Peppers Not Producing?
Let’s talk temperature first with regards to pepper plants not flowering. Peppers are grown as annuals and are suited to USDA zones 9b-11b. Cool temps retard the plant’s growth, resulting in pepper plants that aren’t flowering, and thus, pepper plants not fruiting either.
Be sure to wait until all danger of frost has passed before planting the peppers. Also, set six- to eight-week old plants as soon as conditions are favorable. If you wait too long, the higher daytime temperatures may interfere with fruit set. Temperatures over 90 F. (32 C.) will also cause blooms to drop, resulting in pepper plants that are not producing. So, too much cold or too much heat affect blossom set, hence fruit set.
Other Reasons for No Flowers or Fruit on Peppers
While heat may be a contributing factor to a lack of fruit set, nutrition is also a key player. Fertilizers with a high nitrogen content result in lush, green foliage but no fruit. You may want to do a soil test to see exactly what needs to be added. Peppers need more phosphorus and potassium to set fruit. They don’t need a lot of food, 1 teaspoon of 5-10-10 at planting time and an additional teaspoon just at bloom time.
You may want to try a phosphorus rich blossom-boosting food. Apply the booster weekly for two or three weeks and then stop. There should be plenty of phosphorous in the soil to promote blooming and fruit set.
If you’ve already planted your peppers and over fertilized, don’t despair! There’s a quick fix for over fertilization. Spray the plant with 1 teaspoon of Epsom salts dissolved in a spray bottle of warm water (4 cups of water). This gives the peppers a boost of magnesium, which facilitates blooming, hence fruit! Spray the plants again 10 days later.
Another reason for pepper plants not flowering may be a lack of pollination. Peppers are pollinated by the wind, so if they are in a protected area, they may not be getting their pollen spread around. You can give them a hand with this, literally. Simply hand pollinate the plants by giving a little shake every so often or use a delicate, tiny brush or cotton swab and transfer the pollen from flower to flower.
Feed your peppers properly on a short-term diet high in phosphorus and potassium, make sure the plants have at least six hours a day of sun, keep the area around the peppers free of weeds and insects, plant at the correct time, hand pollinate (if necessary) and irrigate with 1 inch of water per week, and fingers crossed, you should have a bumper crop of peppers coming your way.