Have you ever experienced leaving your peppers blossoming beautifully only to discover the next day that several of its flowers have fallen prematurely? Well, your beloved plants are most likely suffering from Blossom Drop, a common cultural condition not only in peppers but also in other crops. But before you start pointing the finger or employing baseless countermeasures, it’s best to understand the problem itself. After all, nothing more annoying than making matters worse, right? So, let’s find out everything about Blossom Drop.
WHAT IS A BLOSSOM DROP?
Defined as the sudden loss of flowers of crops, Blossom Drop is one of the most common and annoying problems during the flower and fruit production stage. Farmers and gardeners alike find it heartbreaking to see an abundance of flowers forming on their peppers and then losing them altogether in just a blink of an eye. And it is not just a common occurrence on peppers; this problem is also a serious headache for tomato farmers.
However, just like any condition, symptoms can be already be observed at an early stage. If you see some of the stems of your pepper flowers start to turn yellow with some flowers becoming brown and dried up, then this can be a serious indication that your peppers are suffering from Blossom Drop. And the common culprit for this is stress.
FACTORS THAT CAUSE BLOSSOM DROP
Like humans, plants suffer from stress, too, especially if the environmental conditions are not favorable for their proper growth and development. Contrary to what some people believe, Blossom Drop is not caused by pests or microorganisms but by the ever-unpredictable Mother Nature. So, if your pepper flowers are going through early retirement, then the following factors can be the cause of it:
All crops have specific preferences for temperature ranges that allow them to maximize their growth and increase. For peppers, the ideal temperature range is 70-85F (day-time) and 60-75F (night-time). Going way above or below these temperatures can cause your peppers to panic and start aborting their flowering and fruiting mission with the ultimate goal to survive.
WATERLOGGED OR DRY CONDITION
Drought (little to no moisture) and waterlogging (excessive moisture) are the two extreme conditions for the soil’s moisture content. Water is an essential aspect of growth, but both cases can cause severe stress to pepper plants, leading to blossom drop and, worse conditions, death.
INTOLERABLE HUMIDITY LEVELS
Most peppers are from tropical to sub-tropical areas; hence, they can withstand a tad higher humidity level than other crops. However, peppers ideally prefer humidity levels ranging from 35 to 70%. Extremely humid conditions way above the ideal range or the opposite can also cause stress to the crop as the viability of pollen can profoundly reduce.
TOO MUCH OR TOO LITTLE NITROGEN
Nitrogen is one of the three major nutrients that plants need for growth which is why farmers use fertilizers that have this macronutrient during the crucial stages of development. However, too much nitrogen can cause the over lush foliage effect in peppers skipping flowering and fruiting. On the other hand, nitrogen deficiency causes stunting, which renders the crop incapable of supporting its blossoms.
POOR POLLINATION OF BLOSSOM
When blossoms fail to get pollinated, perhaps due to the lack of natural pollinators, these unpollinated blossoms will naturally fall off. Although peppers are self-pollinating crops, they still require a little nudge in the form of vibrations brought by the wind, rain, or insect wings to help the stamen release pollen.
METHODS TO PREVENT BLOSSOM DROP
It’s relatively easy but still challenging to prevent the premature dropping of blossoms. After all, it would help if you changed the work of the environment to suit your peppers growth. And let me say this beforehand, Blossom Drop will be a natural phenomenon because you can never always control Mother Nature. However, you can employ steps to counteract the factors mentioned above.
Be sure to water regularly but on a regulated amount only. Check the soil moisture first before drenching your peppers so you can adjust the amount. Water can do wonders to crops when appropriately provided. You may also place an overhead net to help regulate the raindrops during rain showers.
PROVIDE GOOD DRAINAGE
Having a good drainage capacity is an essential feature that your soil must have. Choose the perfect soil combo that allows you to hold just the right amount of moisture while draining away the excess. For potted peppers, don’t forget to punch holes at the bottom of your pots for drainage and to prop them on benches or stands to let the excess water fall through.
Humidity is one of those environmental factors in our list that we can’t control. However, you can try misting during extremely humid days to help lower the humidity levels. This method is quite effective in close greenhouses but can still be used even in open gardens.
FIND A GOOD SPOT TO PLANT
Although peppers are sun-loving crops and prefer a good dose of full sunlight, finding a good spot where they can be shaded during the harshest time of the day can help regulate temperature levels. Of course, we can never really control Mother Nature when it comes to temperature, so at least easing the impact can help let your peppers survive through the extremes.
DO THE MANUAL POLLINATION METHOD FOR BLOSSOMS
Natural pollinators are everywhere; however, you can hand in letting your pepper flowers get that pollen by using manual pollination methods. One of the easiest methods is shaking the flower gently or using a cotton bud to aid the transfer of pollen. You can also try attracting more pollinators by planting more flowering plants that attract them. However, be sure to avoid cross-pollination problems due to too many pollinators.
KEEP SOIL NUTRIENT LEVELS IN CHECK
A smart farmer will always check the soil’s nutrient levels to ascertain whether it still has enough nutrient content to sustain the peppers throughout their flowering and fruiting stage. Try using a simple soil test kit for this, or you can also ask an expert to check it for you in a lab.
ACCLIMATIZE YOUR PEPPERS
Always practice acclimatization for your peppers. Like humans, plants need enough time to get used to new environmental conditions. Shocking your peppers when moving them to a new area may also cause stress that may lead to blossom drop, so make sure that you give them some time to adapt and adjust accordingly.
Read more about How To Grow Peppers: Tips and Tricks here.
TLC IS THE KEY
Growing peppers or any other crop requires a lot of tender loving care. Pepper plants may seem a bit fussy to grow, but they are one of the easiest crops to care for. All you need to do is give them what they need and more so, and the peppers will do the rest for you. Remember, stress is a big NO, especially during the flowering stage, so be sure to give them some extra care during this period.