My chilli plants are flowering and producing fruit now.

However, some of the very young fruit regularly fall off. They are not very big, probably no more than 2mm in diameter. But they definitely taste of chillies.

On some plants the rate of successful fruit out number the rate of failed fruit, on other plants it's the other way around.

Is there something that can be done to improve the rate of successful fruit?

Or is this just the way of chilli plants?


So here are pictures I took this morning. all my plants sit on the balcony, but the glass on the railing is tinted. I can get ull sun light by moving my plants back from the railing.

I've actually done some comparisons and it seems like the tint filters out enough light, that if I move my plants into full sun, they can get sunburnt.

Plants on balcony

Here's a slightly yellow stem. This will probably fall off in the next few days. The stem will detach from the plant. There's a tiny little nub of a chilli in there.

Slightly yellow stem

I'm in Sydney and the weather is pretty crazy at the moment.

Edit 2:

I have been hand pollinating and just seeing how things progress. More flowers started turning into fruit but I also had more tiny buds drop off. Then there was a huge storm and the temperature dropped quite drastically for a couple of days and there was a lot of yellowing of leaves.

At this stage I think it's the temperature fluctuations giving me issues.

  • 1
    How much light are they getting? Inconsistencies of any kind can cause fruit drop on these. Temp fluctuations, irregular plant rotation (or switching the angle of the light source), insufficient fertilizer, too much moisture... Any chance you could post a pic?
    – J. Musser
    Mar 4, 2015 at 23:15
  • 2
    Are they dropping from the stem, or is the stem dropping with them? And are they so small that really look like a tiny nub? I have noticed that on the Rocotos that I grow I will see many very tiny fruit-like nubs dropping with the stem - at about the size you describe - early in the season. This pepper is a bad self pollinator, so once I notice this, I go around pollinating with a soft watercolor brush. After that, successful fruit set is much better. Could be a coincidence, and more related to temps or other conditions, but I've convinced myself it is a pollination issue.
    – That Idiot
    Mar 5, 2015 at 13:27
  • I think I may have seen this with other varieties too, but never had any confirmation. Could also be stress as @bamboo describes, too.
    – winwaed
    Mar 5, 2015 at 13:53
  • I suspect poor pollination, and the plant is dropping the less viable fruits. Since @ThatIdiot brought it up first, I'll not make this an answer.
    – Ecnerwal
    Mar 5, 2015 at 18:51

3 Answers 3


Excessive nitrogen, heat stress, insufficient or fluctuating water availability are the usual causes. If you know your plants haven't been subjected to fluctuation in temperatures, and you're not feeding excessively with nitrogen rich fertiliser, look at your watering regime. Water supplies should be regular and sufficient to the plant's needs when its forming fruit, or some fruits will drop. It may be that some of your plants simply aren't getting as much water as the others, which would explain why some of them lose more fruit than they produce.

One other thing to check - examine the bottom end of the fallen fruitlet, not where it was attached to the plant, but the other end, just to make sure there isn't a problem with blossom end rot - if its that, you should see a brown discoloration there. Usual cause of this is, again, irregular or insufficient water supply disabling the plant from taking up sufficient calcium.

You haven't said whether the plants are in pots, indoors or out, or in the ground, so its a little difficult to suggest how to water more appropriately, if that's the issue.


I note the extra information added to your question - you say the weather's been 'crazy' but that's a bit non specific! Chilis don't want overnight temperatures below 12 deg C, and do better if that temperature remains about 15 deg C. As for daytime temperatures, they do not like anything above 30deg C - this can reduce yields. I still reckon it's a water problem though... when you water, soak the pots thoroughly, then empty out the trays they're standing in after 30 minutes, and again 30 minutes later if necessary. You want them well watered but not waterlogged.

  • Just as a note (with regard to uneven watering), I've found that giving a potted indoor pepper I currently have some salt (sodium chloride) seems to have made it a lot less finicky about needing to be watered without delay when it's thirsty (it also seems to make the fruits taste saltier), and it needs much less water than before (in fact watering it as much as before might be a bad idea). Of course, more than a little salt could be disastrous. It's growing and fruiting well without dropping a lot of blossoms. I've read that salt can make plants seem like they have more water than they do. Sep 29, 2017 at 5:23
  • Peppers can handle sodium chloride better than a lot of plants, though. The same thing might be really bad for lots of plants. Sep 29, 2017 at 5:31

I'm going to upgrade my earlier comment about improper pollination to an answer just to have it more visibly in the list of possible causes. The plants in your photos look healthy, though they might wind up feeling a bit cramped in those pots. The smallish size of the pots could certainly lead to rapid, wide soil moisture fluctuations and nutrient depletion. So I wouldn't discount previous answers suggesting those causes.

But according to the Chilli King, lack of pollination

...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.

This mirrors my experience, and two things in your photo support this possibility:

  1. The shaded wall would reduce air flow to some extent.
  2. It looks like the plants are on an elevated balcony in an urban setting. Pollinators are going to be less common to begin with in an urban setting, and less common still at elevation without anything else attractive around.

You could do any or all of the following to help improve the probability of good pollination:

  1. Hand pollinate as described above. It is easy and I find it to be strangely fulfilling to be doing bee's work for some reason. I look forward to my daily ritual.
  2. Move the plants away from the glass so that they are more exposed to breezes.
  3. Plant bright colored flowers (I use marigolds because they are easy, gaudy, and forgiving) to attract pollinators to the area.

My plant is also dropping young chilis. I picked a dropping pod(chili) and opened it for examination. I saw some black/gray excreta and when I closely looked with my hand held lens, it surprised me. I saw some insect larvae moving. I don't know what kind of pest it is. Might be one kind of moth that pierces the chili and lays eggs. Larvae came out from the eggs and start eating soft tissue. I'm pretty sure that's the cause of dropping.

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