Pepper plant transplant shock help?

Asked November 28, 2018, 5:33 PM EST

A little over a week ago my girlfriend tried to separate two of our larger pepper plants (about 1' tall each) that were in a pot together and very intertwined. We soaked the root ball in water and then carefully tried to remove the two plants from each other. They now have their own pots, both of which are much larger than the previous one they were sharing. Since the move though they have been very droopy. We have been giving them the same amount of water as we were prior to the move, taking care to ensure the soil isn't too dry or wet, yet they are still droopy over a week later. We have them in the right environment temperature wise, and they are exposed to two grow-lights around 3' away from the plants. They get roughly 12 hours of light per day, and 12 hours of darkness. We mist them in the morning, and then a few hours before the light goes off. Ideally I would like these two to bounce back if possible, I just didn't expect the shock to take this long, though I might be overreacting. The plants have lost a few leaves in the last few days but new leaves seem to be slowly appearing on top. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated!

Pierce County Washington transplanting vegetable gardening

3 Responses

Thank you for your question. Separating and transplanting established plants takes on one of those "Goldilocks" strategies: not too hot, not too cold, not too wet, not too dry. The problem with removing plants from the soil during plant separation is that you are exposing the roots to air. Roots have a microscopic layer of water around them and, if that dries, the tiny root 'hairs' are unable to transport water and nutrients into and then up through the plant structure. Try as you might, it is almost impossible not to disturb that coating.

So, especially if the soil in which they were planted, and then the soil into which you planted them were not wet enough, you need to give the plants time to recover. This what is called "transplant shock," and it impacts all plants. (This is why the guides tell you to remove seedlings that share the same space while they are still young.) Pepper plants have shallow root systems, easily damaged by tilling and soil disturbance, under the best of circumstances.

They only need six hours a day of sunlight, as this guide explains: http://extension.umd.edu/sites/extension.umd.edu/files/_docs/programs/hgic/HGIC_Pubs/Edibles/HG57%20...

So, just give them time; you don't need to mist them, since they take water in through the roots and you're creating an environment for fungi (molds) to develop on the leaves. Make sure the water is draining well, and don't water untl the top of the soil surface is dry. You may be smothering them with love. Good luck!


Thank you very much for the swift and detailed reply! I will use this knowledge, and hopefully, my plants make it! :)