Treating nutrient deficiencies

Nutrient deficiencies

In a previous post, I mentioned my Cherry Chillies and Rocotos were doing well. I also believed at the time that my Madam Jeanettes were more than holding their own. Since then, things have changed. They are just not delivering on the promise they once showed. How this happened I am not sure, but can only put it down to nutrient deficiency. It is certainly not disease or pests creating this problem.

The Madams J’s are not alone in this. There are others. These plants include a Carolina Reaper, a Moruga Scorpion, a Roma pepper, a Peach Bhut Jolokia, two white Bhut Jolokia’s and no fewer than three Madam Jeanettes. It is obvious from their stunted growth and the colour of their leaves that they are struggling

This is somewhat confusing as It’s not like these plants haven’t received the same attention as the plants that are doing well. They have all had the same treatment (including fertilisers, etc), but just don’t seem to want to respond as well as the other plants. It is obvious that something needs to be done

With this in mind, I have decided to examine each plant in detail and try to find out what’s wrong. Hopefully, once I have done this, I can formulate an action plan to see if I can turn things around.  Maybe all it takes is changing the fertilisation of these plants individually. In other words, arriving at a fertilisation plan that caters specifically to the symptoms that individual plants show. It is worth a bash

To start this exercise, I decided to begin with Madame Jeanettes. Considering that just a few weeks ago, I was waxing lyrical about just how well they were doing. It somehow now seems more than a little strange that I am having to give them special treatment to help them survive and start to grow well again.

Nitrogen Deficiency

More nitrogen required

The first Madame Jeanette I examined has a yellowing of its lower leaves. To me this is a symptom of a nitrogen deficiency. A plant needs a steady source of nitrogen to develop its foliage and become a bushy plant. Nitrogen is what is known as a mobile nutrient. These means the plant can move it from one part of the plant to the other if it deems it necessary. So, if the plant is concentrating its efforts on new growth at the top of the plant, it will send as much nitrogen to that section as it needs to ensure good growth.

Other plants that exhibited these symptoms were the Moruga Scorpion, two other Madam Jeanettes, and to a smaller extent, a white Bhut Jolokia.  The yellowness was more marked in one of the Madam Jeanettes.

The giveaway in all these cases was that the yellow had definitely started at the bottom. The top leaves (new growth) were still green. To treat this, I used a fertiliser with a high nitrogen content. Its NPK is 25-15-15. This means it has a high nitrogen level, but also high levels of phosphorous and potassium. Not that the phosphorous and potassium are important in these plants, but this would come in handy in treating the symptoms that another plant was exhibiting.

In this plant,(the Carolina reaper), the lower leaves are yellowing, and it has some rusty parts on the tips of some of its leaves. My diagnosis was that a potassium deficiency caused this. In Potassium deficiencies leaves turn yellow on younger growth. The leaves might have yellow or dead patches, which might become pinholes. The leaves can also develop small spots on their tips, and which can be rusty. I treated this with the high nitrogen fertiliser with high potassium fertiliser previously mentioned

A symptom that showed up in three plants – a Roma pepper plant, a Peach Bhut Jolokia and a white Bhut Jolokia – was that the leaves were turning yellow from the outside. The central parts were still green. To me, this is a magnesium deficiency. In magnesium deficiencies, the leaves turn yellow in the way described, but the veins will stay green. This was close enough.  I treated the plants with a Cal Mag solution at the dosage of 2ml per litre

Another symptom that showed up in one of my plants with a Madam Jeanette marker (but probably is not) is curling leaves, with dead bits that look they have been eaten away by caterpillar’s. Now it could have been caterpillars that caused this, but somehow, I doubt it. If caterpillars had been responsible, far more plants would have shown signs of them visiting. With this in mind, I decided to treat the plant for a calcium deficiency. For this, I also used Cal Mag at the 2ml dosage


With all this special fertilisation, you could think that most of my plants have not been given enough nutrients. Nothing is further from the truth. Most of my seedlings are growing well. The ones I mentioned as doing exceptionally well are doing exactly that. They are the picture of perfect health. The rest (besides the plants with nutrient deficiencies discussed) are also healthy, but just not exceptionally so.

As previously mentioned, the puzzling part to me is that some plants will show signs of nutrient deficiency, even if they have been treated in the same way as the plants that are doing well. They all get the same amount of sunlight, watering, warmth, and fertilizer, but yet some plants will be exceptionally healthy, and others will need special treatment.

Maybe it’s because they all seem to be very hot Chillies!   I see some more research on the horizon to try and figure this one out. I will let you know what I find out!

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