Hot Peppers Not Producing & Butterfly Garden Thoughts

Question:

 What has happened to my hot peppers? They get about a foot tall and stop growing with no peppers. This happened last year, so I changed the location with the same results. What do I need to do to solve my dilemma?

Answer:

  • This is not an uncommon problem with hot peppers here in the Bay Area with tomatoes and peppers.
  • Tomatoes and peppers like warm days and nights to grow and produce. So they thrive inland more than they would next to the coast. It's the night time temperatures that are the most critical.
    • The plants stagnate or stop growing when the temperatures dip below 55 degrees for several days. Once the plants stop growing, they are very slow to recover when the temperatures warm up.
    • It's more likely to be a problem with plants planted in March/April than in those planted in May. Cool nights in July and August effect production. The plant's flowers, but there are no tomatoes or peppers.
  • My suggestion is to plant your pepper plants in mid-May next spring to avoid early-season temperature changes. The most desirable location is the one with the warmest afternoon temperature.
  • Another option is to plant at your regular time and be prepared to replace any plant that begins to struggle. Peppers can be planted right through June, although the selection becomes limited.
  • Bell or the sweet peppers don't require as much heat, so they grow in a cooler location.

Question:

I'd like to plant a butterfly garden. I have a list of plants and are now looking for some other suggestions as to what we should include. Do you have any other thoughts?

Answer:

  • Here are some other things to consider with a Butterfly garden.
  • Plants that attract Butterflies are divided between larval food varieties and adult nectar plants.
    • Butterflies go through four different stages or metamorphosis, egg, larvae, pupa, and adult. Both types of plants are crucial, so the garden must include each type. I'd arrange the plants, so the larva plants are in the center or towards the back.
    • The larvae are a type of caterpillar or worm that eats the foliage. I'd plant these plants in the center or in the background, so the damaged foliage is somewhat hidden
  • Also, include an eastern facing flat rock or two, as butterflies will use the rocks to start their day. They will spread their wings like a solar panel to use the reflected heat to warm themselves.
  • And finally, you visit a public demonstration garden like the Hummingbird and Butterfly Gardens at Coyote Point Museum now called CuriOdyssey (http://www.curiodyssey.org ) in San Mateo, Heather Farms ª http://www.gardenshf.org/) in Walnut Creek or the UC Botanical Gardens (http://botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu/) for additional ideas.