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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Wednesday - June 08, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Container Gardens, Planting, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Chile pequin from Spring Plant Sale in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Re: chile pequin purchased at your Spring 2011 sale: it grows, seems to thrive, but sets no flowers and so bears no fruit. It's in terracotta in Ladybug potting soil, on a shady apartment patio. How can I encourage blooms, please?

ANSWER:

Once again, we share an experience with a plant from the Wildflower Center Plant Sale. I bought my Capsicum annuum (Chile pequin) in the Spring Sale of 2010, and grew it in my concrete garden in terra cotta pots. I had 3 or 4, and all but one dwindled down, and the last one, with one tiny fruit on it, finally died, because I got irritated with it and didn't cover it in our cold spells last Winter.

Also again, I think we have both been guilty of over-care for our plants. I grew these in Brenham in a sunny bed, and they put on so many fruits I was giving them away. Here are the growing conditions for these plants. :

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: clay, heavy clay, sandy loam

Obviously, the very nice potting soil we both gave our chile pequins was not what they wanted, and I would doubt you could buy a potting soil that was clay, heavy clay, or sandy loam. I don't think I put mine in the sunniest part of my porch, because they were supposed to be shade tolerant and that was probably Mistake No. 1. I'm sure the enriched potting soils that we both used were too rich in nitrogen. Too much nitrogen encourages lots of green leaf growth and the plant uses all its energy making those leaves and doesn't have any left over to make blooms. No blooms, no fruit, no seeds.

Possibly this plant is just too tough for container growing by tender, loving gardeners. Unfortunately, even looking something like this up in our Native Plant Database (which surely I, who practically lives in the Database, should have done) might not have helped.  We have a How-To article on Container Gardening with Native Plants that you might be interested in reading, but sometimes only experience helps. We are sorry your plants from our Plant Sale did not work out; they are grown with great care and considered healthy when they are sold.

 

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