This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate TinyGardenHabit.com earns from qualifying purchases.
When pepper plants start to drop their flowers before setting fruit, it can be a bit alarming. And it can be difficult to figure out why your peppers are dropping their flowers in the first place. But, I’m here to tell you why.
The most common reasons that peppers drop their flowers are because of extreme temperatures, excessive or deficient nutrient ratios, lack of pollinators, and improper watering.
I’ll go over all of these things in more detail as well as the best ways to remedy them. I’ll also discuss what you should do if you see flowers forming on your young pepper seedlings.
Reasons peppers drop their flowers
Peppers need their flowers to pollinate and create the pepper fruits that we all know and love. So when their flowers begin to fall off, it can be a big cause for concern. Here are some of the common reasons why pepper plants will drop their flowers.
Peppers tend to be a bit more heat tolerant than other common garden veggies, but only up to a certain point.
When the outside temperatures get to be above 95° F, peppers will start to become stressed and may drop their flowers.
The same can be said for cold temperatures as well. If nighttime temperatures start to consistently dip below 45° F, your peppers will become stressed leading to blossom dropping.
Although all peppers need a good amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, too much of certain nutrients can do more harm than good.
Too much nitrogen in your soil can lead to large and bushy plants but no flowers or fruits. Or, if your plants are already producing flowers and you add nitrogen to your soil via some sort of fertilizer, then you might notice that your flowers fall off.
On the flip side, if your soil is lacking in phosphorus or potassium, you may notice flowers dropping as well.
Lack of pollinators
For the flowers on your pepper plants to turn into fruits, they need to be pollinated. If left unpollinated, the flowers will eventually drop off.
Gardens that are lacking in pollinators will struggle to produce most fruits, not just peppers. But, peppers are pretty smart in that they usually produce more flowers than they actually need as a way to ensure that their chances of pollination are high.
In the next section, I’ll talk about how you can pollinate your peppers by hand if you think your garden is lacking in pollinating insects.
Peppers do not like to have wet feet and can tolerate drought up to a certain point. Peppers that are waterlogged will drop their flowers but so will peppers that are drying out.
Oftentimes, mother nature will do the work of watering for you. But, if you live in an extremely dry region then you’ll need to do some watering by hand.
Don’t be afraid to touch the soil and see how it feels. It shouldn’t feel very wet and may even be a little bit on the dry side. If the top 3 inches of the soil are completely dry, then it’s time to water your plants.
You can either water with a regular old garden hose or you might consider setting up some drip line to make your life easier.
Drip line will only work if your peppers are growing in rows in your garden. If you’re growing pepper plants in individual containers, then the drip line will not work.
How to prevent peppers from dropping flowers
One of the best things that you can do for your pepper plants to help them thrive is to mulch them.
Mulching comes with a ton of benefits that will keep your peppers from dropping their flowers. For starters, mulching helps to lock moisture into the soil and keep the roots of your plants cool.
As temperatures fluctuate in between seasons, mulch helps to keep these fluctuations from negatively impacting your plants.
My go-to mulch in my garden is straw mulch but there are other mulching options for your peppers too like shredded paper, grass clippings, and even plastic mulches.
We have a whole article on the best mulch for pepper plants that you can check out for more information.
If your garden seems to be lacking in pollinators, like bees, butterflies, or other insects, then consider growing a pollinator strip in your garden.
Growing native, pollinator-friendly flowers like bee balm, calendula, and echinacea will help to encourage beneficial insects to come to your garden and pollinate your pepper flowers.
If it’s too late in the season to start a pollinator strip in your garden, then you can try pollinating your peppers by hand.
To do this, all you need is a small paintbrush or q-tip. Take your brush or q-tip and gently brush along the inside of the flowers. This should deposit some pollen onto your brush which can then be taken and brushed onto other pepper flowers.
The first way to help figure out if your peppers are dropping flowers due to improper nutrients is to test your soil. This will give you a good overview of what’s happening in your garden soil.
Once you know what you’re working with, then you can determine what the best course of action is for fertilizing your peppers.
Be careful with how much nitrogen you add to your soil. As I mentioned earlier, too much nitrogen can be the reason your blossoms are falling off.
Consider amending your soil with a fertilizer that has higher amounts of phosphorus or potassium.
We have an entire article on the best fertilizers for pepper plants as well as how much you should be applying. You can check that out here for a more comprehensive overview of fertilizers.
What to do with flowers forming on pepper seedlings
While pepper plants need to produce flowers to make fruit, we don’t want our plants to produce flowers too early.
Pepper seedlings that are already producing flowers are likely to have stunted growth unless the flowers are removed.
This is because the plant is focusing most of its energy on flower and fruit production instead of on foliage production and upward growth. The result will be a weak plant that grows very small fruits if it develops fruit at all.
If you see flowers already forming on your young pepper seedlings, then pick them off. This will help your plant focus on growing big again instead of growing fruit too early.
If your peppers start dropping their flowers, don’t panic! There is likely a simple explanation and a simple remedy for it.
Make sure that your peppers are properly watered. They shouldn’t be too wet but you don’t want them to be bone dry either. Mulching will help with moisture retention in the soil.
Test your soil at the beginning of the season to see if there are any nutrient deficiencies or abundances in your garden.
If you notice a lack of pollinators in your garden, then consider pollinating your peppers by hand to ensure that they set fruit.
Follow these steps and you’ll have big, beautiful peppers in no time!