One of the questions we get asked a lot is why do the flowers keep dropping off my chilli plants without any fruit (chillies) forming?
Flower drop (known to some as “blossom drop”) is a relatively common problem faced not only by chilli growers but by gardeners growing all kinds of fruit and vegetables. It happens when your plant flowers then each flower falls off without any fruit forming. There are a few possible causes and suggested remedies outlined below.
1. Lack of pollination
This is perhaps the most common cause of flower drop and is particularly prevalent when plants are grown inside or in a greenhouse. In these environments there is often a lack of flies, bees or butterflies to pollinate the plants. A simple and free solution is to do this manually by performing the pollination yourself.
To pollinate plants by hand simply get a cotton bud or fine paint brush (or a delicate finger tip will do!) and lightly rub it inside each of the flowers of a plant. Continue to do this once a day for a couple of weeks and you should soon start to see some fruit setting.
2. Lack of Air Flow
Chilli plants can also be pollinated by natural airflow, particular if you’re growing a high density of plants. In addition by providing better air flow to your plants you’ll help encourage insects onto your plants which will help with point 1 above.
As a general rule once night time temperatures reach 10 degrees I leave my greenhouse windows and doors open 24/7, only closing them when extreme weather is forecast.
3. Over watering
Another cause of flower drop in chilli plants is over watering. If you think lack of pollination is not to blame then it may be worth scaling back your watering to maybe just twice a week (depending on the weather of course). In addition remember that some flow drop is natural so do not get too concerned if not all your flowers turn into blistering hot peppers.
4. Not Harvesting Pods
Chilli plants, like any other are designed to produce seed that will get scattered by natural means and therefore multiply. If your plant already has a few chillies on that are ripe, be sure to pick them to encourage further fruit to set. If you leave chillies on a plant when ripe you may find that any new flowers drop failing to result in any new fruit as the plant uses it’s energy to maintain the fruit on the plant rather than produce any new chillies.
5. Unstable Temperatures
Like most plats, chilli peppers like stable temperatures. Exposing flowering chilli plants to very low night time temperatures, or scorching daytime heat can result in flowers dropping off. To avoid these severe temperature fluctuations I always keep an eye on the weather forecast and take re mediate action if wild swings in temperature are likely.
6. Over Feeding
Adding too much fertilizer to your plants can put them into shock which can cause flower drop. When it comes o feeding my pepper plants I prefer the little and often approach as I believe that chilli plants respond better to stable conditions.
Just remember that some flower drop always occurs on healthy plants. If you can eliminate some of the causes above you shouldn’t have too many problems with flowers falling off your plants.