Asked April 5, 2018, 1:46 PM EDT

I am trying to grow a variety of peppers ranging from mild to super hot. I have setup up four - 72 hydroponic containers. I have a 7 inch lid to maintain humidity. I use heating pads on the base of all four of the hydroponics containers. I am using several full spectrum fluorescent bulbs for light. I used peat pods to germinate the seeds. I keep everything wet all the time. I cycle the light off usually at night when I go to bed and on when I get up. They started out fast growing. My issue now is the seedling plants are not looking so good. They stopped growing. Leaves are turning yellow. Leaves are falling off. At one point the leaves look translucent. I took the lids off to give them natural air. It did help a little. Still don't look so good. I am growing everything in my basement with very little natural light. The lids off seemed to help but did not stop the leaves from falling off. I have planted 288 plants (half peppers and half tomatoes). About 200 of them are not looking good. I tried to put some of the bigger ones in larger self standing pots. That didn't help. I believe all of them will not survive before the final frost date comes so I can put them in the garden. Everything I am growing are not available anywhere pre-grown. I wanted to plant unique peppers and unique tomatoes. My super hot peppers consist of reapers, apocalypse scorpions, comodo, ghost, yellow 7 pot, milds are of the violet, chocolate, mini and a bunch of others. I have habanero, banana as well. Just to name a few. Tomatoes are watermelon, gigatamo, Sicilian grown, Italian grown (not sure on the names), purple Cherokee, chocolate Cherokee, black krim, blue beauty and a whole bunch of odd colored ones. Everything are all non-GMO and organic. There is nothing on my list you can get from the Amish or Lowes. I have tried a water soluble fertilizer. Used about 3/4 the dose. I believe the numbers were 5-4-4. Before I realized what I had done I used granular fertilizer in the bigger pots and it pretty much killed the roots and the bases of the plants. It was way too strong. What can I do to save them? I am tempted to put them outside on warmer days to get real sun. It still gets cold at night.

St. Mary's County Maryland

3 Responses

We do not know the type of system you are using and do not have information on growing hydroponically.

Here are our thoughts. It is good that you took off the lids to let in more air.
If the plants are in poor shape, you can pull some plants out, trim the roots, and try planting in a soilless mix. Otherwise, start over.
It is not too late to start over with the tomato and pepper seeds using a soilless mix. You already have the light set up. The peppers can be slow but planting peppers late is not bad. Here is our website on seed starting indoors

Also, it is too early to put the plants outdoors during the day. You want to do this about a week before the plants will be planted in the ground.

In the meantime, you can experiment throughout the year. You need to learn the system.


Thank you for your response. Question on the light system. How far should the light be from the tops of the plants. The ones that are 4-5 inches tall have just leaves on the very top. They are very small. I read that too far is bad and too close is bad. Someone said 2 inches. Others say 3-4 feet away is best.

Place your plants 1-2” beneath a fluorescent fixture for 14 to 16 hours a day. This will increase light intensity and keep plants stocky and strong. Attaching thin chain or wire to either end of your light fixture will allow you to raise and lower the tubes.
Here is our page on seedling care