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Thursday - July 19, 2012

From: Pflugerville, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Planting, Propagation, Edible Plants, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Problems with chile pequin from Pflugerville TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hello there! I have a question about my chile pequin (Capsicum annuum L.) plant. I purchased it last year from the Wildflower Center Fall Plant Sale. It stayed in a pot until three months ago when I planted it in in the ground with some of 9-4-12 fertilizer. It's currently in a place that gets about 5 hours of direct slightly filtered sunlight, it's watered 3 times a week, and is next to a couple of other different chile pepper plants and tomato plants. Problem is it's dying and I have no idea why! When it was in the pot it didn't grow but was healthy, when I planted it in the ground it was sad for a few days and then it was happy and thrived to triple it's size with lots of flowers and peppers. But about three weeks ago I noticed it had a branch that was dying. I didn't think much of it, but then there was another, and now the whole thing is just sad and dying. The leaves are curling and some of the branches are turning brown. I've been watering it every other day for the past week, but it's getting worse. We have had a lot of rain in our area lately and I have noticed a lot of mushrooms growing in the mulch around all of the plants in the garden (but closer than 2 feet away from the plant) but they're all gone now. Thanks for any words of wisdom! I'd love to keep this guy going!

ANSWER:

Since you purchased your plant from our Native Plant Sale (thank you!) we don't have to ask any questions on whether the Capsicum annuum (Chile pequin) in your garden is native to Central Texas.

Some of the members of this genus are annuals, but they should not begin to die back until October, at the earliest. Since other plants around this plant are doing okay, we will have to hark back to the only change in conditions you identified, which was the move from a pot into the ground. Since this plant can tolerate sun, part shade or shade, it would not seem that the amount of sunlight available should be an issue.

The first thing we would question is the fertilizer: most native plants need little or no fertilizer because they have adapted over centuries to local conditions. In fact, some native plants are actually opposed to fertilizer. Second, if you follow the plant link above to our webpage on this plant, you will note under Growing Conditions that it has low water use. Three times a week, even though we have been having some more rain than normal in Central Texas, is probably excessive. We think you have been giving that plant too much love.

There is also the possibility of some root damage when it was transplanted from the pot. Since this species is annuum, it probably doesn't have much longer to live anyway. If you managed to harvest some seeds before it began to dry up, perhaps you can reseed for next year. Propagation Instructions are on the same webpage.

 

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Chile pequin
Capsicum annuum

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