I had the most gorgeous bell peppers in the garden this year, most likely due to the unseasonably warm summer in our region. Alas, this is not always the case. Generally, my plants set a couple of fruit at best, or no fruit on the pepper plants at all. That led me to do a little research on why a pepper plant won’t produce.
Why a Pepper Plant Won’t Produce
One reason for a pepper plant with no flowers or fruit may be the weather. Peppers are warm season plants that thrive in temperatures of 70-85 F. (21-29 C.) during the day and 60-70 F. (15-21 C.) at night. They need a long growing season with at least six hours of full sun. Be sure to wait for the soil to warm in the spring after all chance of frost has passed in your region prior to setting your transplants, and to get a jump start on harvest, set out six- to eight-week-old transplants. Cool temps delay the blooming process, but the plant may still set fruit if temps warm up so don’t despair.
Conversely, extended temps over 90 F. (32 C.) will engender peppers that may flower but incur blossom drop, hence, a pepper plant that is not producing. So a picky pepper plant with no flowers or fruit may be the result of an incorrect temperature zone, either too hot or too cold.
Another common reason for a pepper plant not producing may be blossom end rot, which is caused by a calcium deficiency and occurs when night temps are over 75 F.(23 C.). It appears, as the name indicates, as a brown to black rot on the blossom end of the fruit with a result in loss of the pepper.
Speaking of a calcium deficiency, another problem with peppers not flowering or setting fruit is inadequate nutrition. Plants with too much nitrogen become lush, green and large at the expense of fruit. It might be wise to invest in a soil testing kit to verify if or what your soil may be lacking. If you don’t want to go that route, use three pounds of 5-10-10 fertilizer per 100 square feet worked into the top six inches of soil prior to setting the plants. When fruit is dime sized, side dress with 3 tablespoons of 33-0-0 fertilizer per each 10 feet. Then when the fruit sets, apply a complete fertilizer.
Additional Reasons for No Fruit on Pepper Plants
It’s also possible that your pepper won’t set fruit because it’s receiving inadequate pollination. You may want to help it out by hand pollinating your peppers with a tiny brush, cotton swab or even your finger. In lieu of that, a gentle shake may aid in distributing the pollen.
Control weeds and insects and give the peppers adequate irrigation to reduce the chance of stressing it. Lastly, frequent harvesting of peppers promotes a good fruit set, allowing the pepper to channel its energy into growing additional fruit once the others have been picked.