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-   -   What's up with my (bell) pepper plant growth? (http://www.hydroponicsonline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2483)

KDillon 08-30-2012 12:50 PM

What's up with my (bell) pepper plant growth?
This is the first time I've attempted a sweet (bell) pepper indoors but I have it in a 5 gal bucket (DWC) w/RO water and General Hydroponics FloraDuo A & B nutrient solutions (currently under late growth schedule) with the pH adjusted to ~6.0. I started it out (in flexiplug and netpot w/ clay pellets) under 2 T5 lights but have since moved it to a 100 watt MH light. The 2 air stones are pumping out plenty of oxygen and the roots are going crazy. "Above ground" however it seems the plant has stalled out. It's ~8'' tall and has many large leaves but now as the vertical growth has slowed it is still producing leaves so there are ~15 or 20 small leaves bunched together at the top (crown?) of the plant and it is starting to put out many small buds. I like seeing the buds but it has been this way for 2 weeks now and it seems like the plant is no longer growing vegetatively. Is this bad or normal? And when should I switch over to "bloom" lighting (either HPS or T5 "bloom" tubes) since peppers are indeterminate and put out fruit pretty early in their growth cycle? Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks!!

KDillon 08-30-2012 05:03 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Here is a pic from 2 weeks ago and the only thing that has happened since then is that there have been tons of little leaves added to the top of the plant, the stem has gotten thicker and the current leaves have gotten bigger. But the plant is not getting taller.

fintuckyfarms 08-31-2012 07:07 AM

Wish I could help you, I will be taking the master gardeners program this winter so I can figure out my own plants and maybe offer some insight when people ask. Not much help today though, sorry.

I did a quick google search and I suggest you check your nutes temp. Apparently they like a warm soil and will not grow unless warm.

GpsFrontier 08-31-2012 08:14 AM

Hello KDillon,
From the picture it looks healthy, but a picture (especially an old one) may not show everything (especially in the true colors). But I have a few possible thoughts though.

First is that you switched from using florescent lighting to using HID. Florescent lighting generally causes the plants to reach up towards the light because it's low light levels (especially in flowering/fruiting plants). This also tends to make the plant tall and thinner. When you switched over to HID lighting the plant may likely have just taken the advantage of the higher light level's to grow healthier, thicker, stronger stocks (that you say you experienced), rather than just continuing to try to grow up towards the light (for better photosynthesis) with the lower light levels of the florescent lighting. That's because the light levels are directly related to plant ability for photosynthesis.

Second thought is, it takes a lot more energy for a plant to produce flowers/fruit. Any slow down may also be a result of all the new buds/fruit you say the plant is producing.

Third thought is, even though you stated the nutrients your using, that dosen't say in what concentrations your using them, and/or if your fallowing the manufactures directions (for anyone not familiar with them). Not to mention if you have ever changed the nutrient solution. Or even how many gallons the reservoir is/holds. I can only guess that it holds about two gallons going by the picture, and may or may not be an issue depending on the other factors.

Forth thought is temperatures, when you switched to HID lighting that increased the heat from the light source 10 fold. Did you adjust the height of the light source so the air temp at the top of the plants foliage isn't any higher than 85F max? Also I don't believe you mentioned the water (root zone) temp.

As for when to switch over to bloom lighting. As soon as you want the plant to produce fruit. Some people prefer to pluck the buds and grow more foliage before letting the plant bloom, and others (like me) would allow it to produce fruit ASAP like it has done in nature for century's.

indeterminate is a classification of the plants height, not when or how often it flowers. Your thinking of the term "continuously fruiting plant" Continuously fruiting plants fruit from the start of their life to the end. A indeterminate plant has no defined plant height and can grow quite tall. Indeterminate peppers have been known to grow well over 10 feet tall. Determinate plants have a specific determined/defined plant height. Determinate plants are often also called bush variety. Most determinate pepper and tomato varieties only grow 3-4 feet tall.

KDillon 08-31-2012 10:02 AM

Wow GpsFrontier, thanks for all of the great information! A lot to consider and each point is valid and worth addressing. I definitely considered the effects of switching from fluorescents to HID (with the T5s, the top leaves were 2-4" from the tubes; with the 100watt MH bulb the gap is ~12"). Being one of the lowest wattage HID bulbs and with a glass shield it isn't really pumping out the heat but it's definitely warmer. But I believe this phenomenon was occurring before the switch. You're right the start of bud production takes a toll on the plant and over all growth will be impacted. I looked closer last night and, though there are A LOT of leaves being produced at the top, there are two definite branches forming. maybe once it gets more adjusted to the HID light it will take off stronger and more vigorously. As for nutrient conc. I follow the recommendations on the bottles of the FloraDuo A and B nutrients (General Hydroponics) for the Late Growth schedule. I'm wondering if I should transition to Early Bloom schedule. The bucket has 4 gal. of the nut. soln. I may follow your suggestion and remove the buds to possibly promote more vegetative growth. Thanks again for your thoughts and suggestions!

GpsFrontier 09-01-2012 06:14 AM

Can you elaborate on your nutrients? I'm not saying there is anything wrong there, I just don't have enough details to form any opinions yet. For instance I have used GH flora 3 part (Gro, Micro, Bloom) series nutrients, witch is not the same as the FloraDuo A & B. But with the flora series I know that for a balanced full strength nutrient solution I would be mixing 10ml (2 tsp) per gallon of water. From there I can mix it to my needs because I know the basic starting point. Generally I use a 3/4 strength nutrient solution (7.5ml per gallon of the flora series) for plants in full growth. Smaller plants even less. But water volume, plant size, how many plants, temp and humidity, as well as how often you change the nutrient solution are all factors too. There are other nutrient factors as well. But I don't want to spend an hour posting paragraphs without even knowing the basic details.

So far I have no idea what or how you are mixing them. All I know is that you feel whatever chart you are using to decide, you did correctly. And you may very well have done just that. But I just cant give any stamp of approval personally when I don't know any of the details (not that my approval is needed). I could do a search for your mixing chart, but that still wont tell me exactly how you are mixing them. Beyond that, there are so many different plants that there is simply no such thing as a one size fits all mixing chart. It's only meant as a general guideline, and adjust as needed.

But like any driving directions someone gives you, even if you try to fallow them to the letter, if you don't know the starting point, you'll wind up completely lost. That's why I have no opinion at this point. I don't know what the starting point is, nor any of the rest of the important details in order to form a reasonable opinion.

KDillon 09-07-2012 04:47 PM

Hi GpsFrontier, sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I was using the "Aggressive Growth" concentration suggested by GH. This was 15ml/gal. of FloraDou A and 5ml/gal. of FloraDou B. A few days ago I switched over to the "Transition" concentration which is more like you describe (10ml/gal. of FloraDuo A and 10ml/gal. of FloraDuo B). I've also been adding 1 Tbsp. of the CaliMagic (Calcium) supplement to the final volume (4 gal.) and giving the whole thing a good stir before pHing to ~6. The plant has now branched into 4 different stems off of the main stem but it still seems to be growing slowly. I have no fans on the plant and have also wondered if it isn't getting enough CO2 in my basement setting. So do you see a benefit to the 3 part nutrient system over the 2 part (Duo) system? I have 2 big air stones in there so I don't thing O2 is the issue and I have been using RO water so I know my nut. concentrations and ppms. Thanks for all of your considerations!

KDillon 09-27-2012 11:43 AM

Pepper plant Update
3 Attachment(s)
Ok so here's an update on the pepper plant. It seems to be doing well and is putting out flower buds but I have another question. Is there such a thing as too many leaves? I have attached some pics which actually don't do it justice (sorry, pics taken with crappy cell phone). Though the plant looks healthy with lush green leaves, if you dig a little deeper into the plant and under the outer foliage, there seems to be so much new growth that many of the newer leaves don't have anywhere to go and are just getting bunched up. There are so many branches and the plant is staying so compact that it almost looks like it is working against the plant. Should I think about pruning some of the extra branches out of the middle of the plant and, if so, is there a good rule of thumb? Or do I have the plant too close to the 100watt MH bulb, as you can see from the pic? And finally is there an ideal time to switch over to HPS lighting? I want the plant to continue vegetative growth but if it's gonna start producing (bell) peppers then I want to maximize that too. Also, my nutrient schedule is the "transition phase" (10ml/gal each of the General Hydroponics FloraDuo A & B, for a ~1200ppm, in a DWC bucket). Thanks for any input!!

GpsFrontier 09-30-2012 04:37 AM

It looks to me like a light source problem. That is not the light itself, but the light distribution around the plant (lack of evenly distributed light). The leaves and branches are trying to grow toward the light source. Causing them to grow straight up, rather out toward the sides. The bunched up branches seem to be causing the foliage that should have room to grow, to become confined and bunched up in the middle. That's why most people use some type of reflective walls around their plants. To bounce back as much light as possible at the sides of the plants, for better light distribution around it.

KDillon 10-01-2012 09:17 AM

Thanks GPSFrontier. I was wondering abut that. But since the plant looked healthy up until this point I hadn't changed anything. Guess that was part of the problem. I'll look into some mylar. And if I switch over to a HPS light will this cut down on the vegetative growth? I of course want it to develop the peppers but also want it to continue to grow so that it will continue to put out more peppers for as long as it's genetics will allow.

GpsFrontier 10-03-2012 04:01 AM

Sorry KDillon, I forgot about the other questions in your post. First, peppers are a continuously fruiting plant, and will grow fruit all their life. You can use HPS on continuously fruiting plants as soon as you want (their constantly fruiting). It shouldn't slow down the foliage growth much at all. Changing to HPS only changes the light spectrum, and allows the plant to dedicate more energy to the fruit growth/production. So in theory more energy going to the fruit, less energy going to foliage. But I doubt it would be noticeable much. Many people use nothing more than MH on peppers, and others use only HPS.

You can prune as much of the inner leaves as you want. I wouldn't prune any that aren't being bunched up though. If they are being bunched up, they wont be able to grow much anyway, and by getting rid of them you'll be able to get better air circulation through the plant. Just make sure you prune them at a node (where the stem comes out from a branch/leaf). Keep in mind that a flow/pepper typically grows at every junction between leaf and branch. So the more you trim the less flowers/peppers.

The transition stage of nutrients is fine. If you want the plant to grow more foliage use the directions for the vegetative stage, if you want it to concentrate more on fruiting, use the directions for the blooming/flowering stage. If you want it to do both at the same time, stay right in the middle.

KDillon 10-03-2012 01:00 PM

Thanks GPS. Again lots of good info that I will put into the memory bank. And I will be getting up some mylar soon!

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