Hydroponic Peppers

Growing Peppers Hydroponically

Growing peppers in Hydroponic Gardens

Capsicum      Light-12 Hrs. Daily      Nutrient pH: 5.5 to 7.0


Pollination PruningSpacing & Light



Nutrient Solution Hot PeppersTroubleshooting






Peppers can be grown using hydroponics in any season. It has been proven that growing peppers hydroponically will not only result in an increased yield when properly done, but generally a better quality and larger fruit size as well.

In hydroponics the plants theoretically receive a steady food source from the nutrient solution, and they incur have fewer attacks from insects and soil borne pathogens.

For home growers - both experts and beginners, a number of hydroponic systems are available that are suitable for growing peppers. Beginners may want to start with an ebb-and-flow system which is easily obtained online or via a local supply outlet. See: Hydroponic Systems

If you are taking seedlings from a pot that you started in soil or a conventional garden you'll want to submerse the plants root ball in room-temperature water to gently remove any soil clinging to it. With minimal damage to the root system remove as much soil as possible. It's okay if small trace amounts of soil remain, but not too much.

If you are using rockwool slabs , soak the slabs [The slabs -not the plants] for a day with nutrient solution before transplanting, then soak the root balls as described above.




Netted pots are best, but you can also use variations such as Planters made of plastic mesh. Place the pepper plants a tad deeper than they were originally growing in the their soil container. Only place one pepper plant in each pot.




Spacing and Lighting

Your pots should be spaced about 7 - 9 inches apart , depending on the variety you are growing. Unlike conventional gardens if you don't space them properly in the beginning it is much easier to move them later, as the plants mature.

The grow lights should be 6 to 8 inches over the pepper plants. Any closer could cause scorching, any further and the plants will not get the full benefit of the lighting system. As the plants mature- naturally you will have to periodically adjust the height of the lights to maintain the 6-8 inch distance.

Pepper tend to produce better Under high light conditions. 10 - 12 Hours of light daily is optimal - be sure they also have adequate periods of simulated nighttime darkness , which is essential to the plants growth just as the light is.

Optimal daytime temperature is 73 F to 80 F Optimal night temperatures should not be lower than 70 F.




Pruning

The pepper plants will need to pruned periodically by pinching off a few stem buds once the plants reach about 6 to 8 inches in height. Be sure you know the difference between a stem bud and a flower bud. Peppers, as well as eggplants produce multiple small flowers. Removing some of these flowers will make your plant devote more energy to developing bigger vegetables rather than a lot of smaller ones.

Early season pepper plant pruning should be done when the plant is one foot tall and should cease once peppers have set. Generally, pepper plants have a Y shape and branches then create smaller and smaller Y shapes jutting off of the main stems.




By the time the plant is a foot tall, you will be able to see the strongest branches on the plant. Cut back any smaller branches, including suckers. Be careful not to damage the main stem ,which will cause the plant to perform poorly. Removing some of the flower nodes early will force the plant to devote more energy into the remaining blossoms, resulting in larger and healthier fruits.

Pollination

In a natural setting plants are pollinated by a combination of wind and insect activity. Indoor gardens require artificial pollination if the plant is to bear fruit. Once the buds open you should gently shake it on a daily basis to help with pollination. See: Indoor Pollination

Nutrient Solution / pH

Assuming you are growing a variety of plants in addition to peppers you should be using a general nutrient formulation. Any nutrient suitable for Tomatoes, eggplants or cucumbers is also suitable for peppers.




The optimal pH for peppers growing hydroponically is between 5.5 and 7.0 . A low pH can be corrected {increased} by adding sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide to the water. Small amounts of one or the other should be used. Never touch hydroxides with wet hands. Handle them as little as possible and when you do, use sturdy water resistant gloves. IF possible, test any pH adjustments on a single plant before you continue to make adjustments to your entire nutrient solution.

For Novices- Nutrient pH and soil ph as in a conventional garden are not the same thing -See pH in Hydroponics

Troubleshooting

Plant stress from factors such as temperatures, irrigation and nutrient issues will sometimes lead to a common problem with pepper plants - blossom end rot. The same factors can also cause Growth cracks and splitting. Other common diseases of peppers are gray mold , tobacco mosaic virus and tomato spotted wilt virus . See: Pepper Plant Diseases

Common insect pests which sometimes find their way into hydroponic systems include white-flies,aphids, two-spotted, red-spider mite, broad mites, thrips, fungus gnats [See: Algae Control for Hydroponics ] and mites.

Mites are by far the most damaging. Many of these pests are difficult to detect at first due to their natural camouflages and minute size. AT the sign of any plant defects, such as tip withering, end rot, yellowing ... examine the plant with a magnifying glass to inspect for creepy crawlers before moving on to your next diagnosis.

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