pepper seedlings turning yellow after planted

Asked June 17, 2020, 2:21 PM EDT

I started 10 varieties of peppers from seed in early/mid April. They started off great. The seedling were compact dark green with two or three pairs of mature leaves. Then in late May I planted them in the garden. Within a week or so of planting, the entire plants started turning yellow and some lower leaves fell off. Also growth appears slower than I'd expect. Grown peppers many times in the past. When the weather is warm, the plants usually shoot out of the ground! Now it's June 17th and the plants still don't look very good. They continue to grow taller but many have lost their bottom leaves, most don't look so sturdy, and they are still yellow. This is a new garden for me. In the past, I've always gardened in a combination of existing top soil, peat moss, and compost. That is what i'm using here too. I did use a different compost source. After the fact, i heard that the pH of this compost runs a bit low. Someone suggested i might be over watering the first week when the issue started, but I stopped that two weeks ago. Now I only water every three to five days when the soil seems dry. Here in southeast Michigan the weather in late May (after planting) was rather hot. Looking at other plants in my garden, tomatoes are doing phenomenal. They are dark green and big and growing fast. Baby bok choy is dark green and growing well. Lettuce and green beans are growing well but lighter yellow than I'd expect. Luffa are growing ok but lighter yellow. Eggplant got off to a slow start but now looks healthly both in color and plant structure. Any ideas: 1) What I wrong with my peppers? 2) Anything I can do now to address this issue? 3) What can i do for next year to improve results? Appreciate your feedback.

Washtenaw County Michigan

1 Response


It is hard to figure out exactly what is going on, though you have provided good information. Here are some things to think about.

The overall plant yellowing doesn't look like a disease or insect issue, which makes me think it is abiotic. Weather data from our region suggests that conditions have been right for high rates of evapotranspiration (plants losing water through their leaves), and top soils are also generally pretty dried out. It is important to make sure plants are getting at least an inch of water a week.

The fact that some of your other vegetables are a bit off-color makes me wonder if something is going on nutritionally. Pepper plants that don't have enough Nitrogen are often small and light yellow, and the nitrogen in compost isn't always quickly available to plants. I might try side dressing and see if things turn around for these peppers.