when do I pinch new growth buds off pepper plants in my not totally sunny garden

Asked August 3, 2018, 3:26 PM EDT

Hi. I assume I want the plants to focus on making and ripening peppers. And stop focusing on new growth branches and/or flowers. The peppers don't get sun until about 9am now, but seem to get sun until 6pm. it's August 3rd

Benton County Oregon

3 Responses

Hello, I found only a bit of information on about pruning peppers. Unfortunately, none of it talked about pruning off flower buds to enhance ripening. I think that it makes sense to do so, I do it with my tomatoes. To me it makes no sense to leave fruit on plants that have no chance of maturing and forcing the plant to nourish them. Most pepper fruits will mature within 45-55 days under good growing conditions. Red, orange and yellow fruits may take longer and require warmer temperatures. Our warm/hot temperatures during the day are great for peppers however our cooler overnight temperatures not so much. My experience is that peppers take longer than the stated 45-55 days at my elevation. So, my advice to you is to figure out the average time (in the number of days) it takes fruit to mature where you live in your individual micro climate. Subtract that number of days from our average first frost date and remove new blossoms starting around that date. Since our first average frost date is around mid-October and my peppers take longer I would start removing new blossoms around 60 days prior to first frost so approximately August 15. I would experiment by doing this with half my plants and comparing the results with the plants that were not pruned. Next year you will have a better idea of when but understand weather is your main constraint here, it is not an exact science. If we get prolonged (Indian) summer weather or an early first frost it can impact the garden and your plants. Be advised that some of the information I found cautioned about removing too much foliage causing the plants to stall. I have noticed this happening in my garden when wind damage has required me to remove more than I would have without broken branches caused by wind. You can give your peppers help by planting them in raised beds and using plastic mulch over the soil. Be sure to have drip irrigation under the plastic. This will help the soil stay warmer during our cool night time temperatures. Happy gardening.

Hi Debbie, Your answer is Really helpful, specific and clear. Others will view it in all the land. When you talk about a pepper "maturing", do you mean from blossom on the plant to a ripe fruit? I've heard peppers like warm tops but slightly cooler roots, so I mulch with leaves once the days gets into the 90s. Next year I will plant them earlier (we had a long cool June) and I will roll big clear bags down every night under 60 to see how they like staying cozy. . I did that on a lot of the earlier 50 degree nights. Last year I learned that they need the leaves or the fruits get scorched, so I'll take all the tippy top tiny fruit buds off and then I hope to do more ambitious pruning on half the plants, and hopefully keep good notes of which half. Thank you , again. I hope I chose to share this with all. your ideas belong in an easy to see place.

Hello again. Yes I am talking about the new blossoms maturing to ripe fruit. If you have immature fruit that is just starting out you could consider whacking them also but then again with this weather who knows? The plastic mulch is to keep the ground as warm as possible during our cool evenings. Some people fill empty milk jugs with water and sit them in the garden next to their plants during the day. As the temperatures fall the energy trapped irradiates the soil to keep it warmer. That is the theory. Putting down the plastic over baby plants and irrigation tubing can be challenging I find it easier as once it is done nothing else is required until it is time to remove plants and plastic. Do what works for you! Your pepper roots should be fine in the warmer soil as long as they are properly hydrated. I find my garden to be an experiment and educational. Every year I learn something new and/or am presented with a challenge. This year's challenges with the long hot weather stretches should provide you some good learning experiences. I keep a gardening journal and write down the things I observe and help me remember important stuff such as which varieties did well or tasted better etc. That may be a good place to keep your pruning results.