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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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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Friday - November 12, 2010

From: Corpus Christi, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Edible Plants, Shrubs
Title: Dead or Dormant Chile Pequins in Corpus Christi
Answered by: Mike Tomme

QUESTION:

We have 4 chile pequin and 5 chiltepin plants growing our yard. All were thriving beautifully until we took a 12-day vacation in late July. There was little rain during that time but overall this year we are way ahead on rainfall. On return we found the former had all died or gone dormant, while the latter were doing just fine. What do you think could be the problem? I figure they'll grow back. One native plant nurseryman suggested some kind of fungus or microbial blight.

ANSWER:

It's always hard to say why a plant died without seeing the situation first hand, but Mr. Smarty Plants will not be deterred just because something is hard.

You don't say whether these were recent transplants or established plants, but I am going to assume they were recent transplants. Also when you refer to chiltepin, I am going to assume you mean Capsicum annuum var. glabriusculum (Chile pequin)   which is a particular variety of Capsicum annuum (Chile pequin).

Now, let's hink about why some of your plants died and others lived. Being without water for 12 days in July certainly has to be a suspect in their demise. Young transplants may not have enough of a root system to reach down and get water once the soil near the surface dries out. Why did some plants live? My guess is that these plants were in a spot that got more shade or they were in soil with a greater moisture retention capability.

As for a fungal or microbial cause, I'd say this is rather unlikely. One of the great advantages of growing native plants is their resistance to all the diseases and blights that affect many imported plants.

If the plants are indeed dead, my best advice is to plant again and give it another try.

 

From the Image Gallery


Chile pequin
Capsicum annuum

Chile pequin
Capsicum annuum var. glabriusculum

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