Why Aren’t My Chili Plants Flowering? (Finally Answered)

In recent years the popularity of growing chili peppers at home has rocketed.  Partly due to the ever-increasing number of varieties available and partly due to the rise in the ‘chili-head’ YouTubers, more and more people are growing these hot little fruits at home. 

There are a number of reasons a chili plant doesn’t produce any flowers, and they include the plant is being kept either too hot or too cold, the soil is too wet or too dry or the plant has been over-fertilized with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer.  Another reason a chili plant isn’t flowing might be because the flower stems are being attacked by aphids or another pest.

One major advantage chilis have over so many other crops is you can grow them even if you don’t have much outdoor space.  Chilies are just as happy growing in a pot on a window ledge as they are growing in a greenhouse. 

One fairly frequent problem chili growers come across is their chili plants aren’t producing any flowers.  In this article, I have a look at why that might be.

Are My Chili Plants Too Hot Or Too Cold?

One major reason a chili plant doesn’t develop any flowers is that it is being kept in conditions that are either too hot or too cold.

The ideal temperature to grow chili plants in is somewhere between 70°F and 80°F (21°C and 26.5°C). 

When temperatures are too far either above or below these temperatures, the chili plant is placed under stress, and when chili plants are stressed they don’t produce as many flowers, and sometimes they don’t produce any flowers at all.

What to do if your chili plants are too hot?

If you are growing your chili plants in a greenhouse or polytunnel, make sure all the windows and doors are open to allow for maximum airflow. Adding a large fan in the doorway will also help increase airflow which should, in turn, lower the ambient temperature.

Whether your plants are in a greenhouse or out in the open, adding a shade cloth will also help reduce the temperature around the plant. 

I have placed shade cloths over the whole of my greenhouse in the past when the sun shone nonstop for days.  I have also constructed a tent over an individual plant that was growing out in the open and suffering due to the heat.

What to do if your chili plants are too cold?

Somehow, it is easier to keep a plant warm than it is to keep it cool.  If your plants are being grown under cover, try using a greenhouse heater or space heater to warm the air temperature a little.  Closing the windows and doors will help contain any warmth that is created by the sun’s rays.

Whether your plants are undercover or out in the open, gently wrapping them in horticultural fleece will help keep them warm, just be careful not to wrap them up too tightly.

I have used horticultural fleece to great success when trying to grow my chili plants early in the season and they get hit by a cold spell of weather.  Bubble wrap can also be used, but be careful as it may magnify the sun’s rays which can scorch the chili plant.

Are My Chili Plants Too Wet Or Too Dry?

If chili plants are kept too wet or too dry they may not develop any flowers.  In actual fact, chili plants suffer more from being kept too wet than they do being kept too dry.  A chili plant has to get very dry before it begins to suffer.  

The best way to decide if your chili plant is too wet or too dry is to put your finger into the soil immediately around the plant. 

Ideally, the soil on the surface will be dry, but an inch on so under the surface will be moist.  If you can put your finger in 3 or 4 inches (7.5cm to 10cm) and still not feel any moisture then the soil is too dry.

Conversely, if the soil is very wet and constantly wet, the plant may not develop flowers, or those flowers that do develop may rot off.  

Far more chili plants are killed each year by overwatering than underwatering.  

How to water a chili plant correctly?

It is difficult to describe exactly how much water a chili plant will need.  It will depend on the variety, the soil conditions, and the weather.  Personally, I water my chili plants around once a week unless they have started to wilt.

The video below discusses when and how to water a chili plant.

Has My Chili Plant Been Overfertilized?

To grow chili plants well, they need fertilizer.  Fertilizer helps improve roots, foliage, flowers, and fruits to develop.  Chilis, like all plants, require fertilizers in the right proportions.

There are essentially 3 different nutrients that chili plants need Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K).  Nitrogen helps the foliage grow, Phosphorus helps promote root growth as well as flowing and fruiting, and Potassium helps the plant carry out its everyday functions like photosynthesis and absorption of nutrients.

When a chili plant receives too much Nitrogen and not enough Phosphorus the result can be a big, bushy plant with lots of lush growth but not flowers or fruit. 

If your chili plant looks bright and has plenty of leaves on it, but isn’t producing any flowers, there is a good chance the problem relates to too much nitrogen and not enough Phosphorus.  To rectify the problem, consider fertilizing your chili plant with good quality, preferable organic general fertilizer.

I like to use seaweed fertilizer personally.  I have always had good results using seaweed fertilizer.  It is better to use a balanced fertilizer that delivers all the nutrients the plant needs 

Does My Chili Plant Have Pests?

There are numerous pests that can affect the flowers developing on a chili plant.  The most common pest affecting the chili plant’s flower development are aphids.

Aphids are small, soft-bodied creatures that can be black, green, or white.  They live by sucking the sap from the soft parts of the plants, especially from areas of new growth such as the plant tips and the flower stems.

A chili plant infested with aphids may be developing flowers, but the aphids are sucking the sap out of them before they have a chance to develop.

Aphids (also known as green fly)

How to treat a chili plant that has aphids?

When it comes to treating chili plants that are infested with aphids you essentially have 3 options;

  • Use a pesticide
  • Use an organic treatment
  • Use natural biological controls
  • Use your finger and thumb

Using a pesticide

There are a number of pesticides on the market that will treat an infestation of aphids. Formulations of malathion, permethrin, and acephate (nonfood crops only) will all kill aphids. 

Pesticides should always be used with caution.  Personally, I steer well clear of any pesticide and insecticide around food crops I am planning to eat.

Using an organic treatment

Due to demand from consumers, every year more and more organic pest treatments hit the market.  I have had good success using Earth’s Ally Insect Control Spray which is available on Amazon.

The internet is full of homemade sprays and remedies you can create using ingredients you may already have around the home.  

Using biological controls

Biological controls are basically using one insect to fight another.  You can either set your garden up in such a way as to encourage aphid predators or you can buy the predators online and have them delivered to your door.

Natural aphid predators include various species of parasitic wasp and Lady Beetles.  The parasitic wasps lay their eggs inside the bodies of the aphids, whereas the Lady Beetles will actually eat them.

Using your finger and thumb

If the infestation is small, or you catch it early enough, you can eliminate most of the aphids by gently rubbing the chili plant stems between your finger and thumb.

My Final Thoughts On ‘Why Aren’t My Chili Plants Flowering?’

There can be a number of reasons a chili plant isn’t flowering.  Once the reason is identified it can usually be fixed by making a small change in the way the plants are being kept.

Arya Patel

Arya Patel is HomesteadSavvy.com’s fruit and vegetable editor. Arya has been homesteading for well over a decade and over that time she has grown countless varieties of fruits and vegetables. She aims to become completely self-sufficient over the next 5 years.
Fruit & Vegetable Editor