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I've got an indoor pepper plant that has already been through one harvest of 8 peppers. Nearing the end of the first harvest, many of the leaves on the lower stems died off. This may have been due to insufficient nutrients.

I'm fairly sure it has a vibrant root system as I have visibility underneath the grow bag it's currently in. The bag has been penetrated all over with root stems (maybe a sign of insufficient watering - working on that)

In any case, it's now part-way into a second grow cycle and I've reduced the pepper load to 4 max (I'll be clipping extras) in the hopes that the plant won't get over-encumbered.

I cut back a number of stems that the majority of leaves had died on as well as some of the more extended branches and am now left with a plant that's lower 50% or so is pretty much leafless stems (plenty of sunlight) and the upper sections (3 main ones) that have fresh leaf growth and peppers.

I noticed that many of the lower stem nodes have what appear to be new shoots of stems/leaves coming out (maybe 10 or so) however they aren't exactly growing.

It would be awesome if the lower section could be rejuvenated. Is this possible? How can I encourage lower section regrowth?

This is all within a climate regulated environment so time/seasonal changes aren't a limitation.

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    Usually done in the seasonal plant rest period, by cutting the plant back hard. – J. Musser Apr 10 '15 at 18:38
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    If I were to make small cuts periodically on the fresh growth stems, would that suffice? (still need some leaves up there) Will it even try regrowing lower regions while simultaneously growing peppers? – Enigma Apr 10 '15 at 18:39
  • Not really. That may promote some adventitious root growth, but not really new stem/leaf growth. You will, however, end up with slightly slowed water transport in the plant due to forcing it to go through/around the scar/callous tissue formed in the repair of the cuts. It's normal for the plant to grow out, get lanky, and lose lower leaves. It just needs support until the annual rest period, when you can cut back and it will be rejuvenated. – J. Musser Apr 10 '15 at 18:47
  • Any examples of how much one should cut back for the annual rest period? – Enigma Apr 10 '15 at 18:50
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    Here's a relevant youtube video. It's a small plant, but the method is the same. – J. Musser Apr 10 '15 at 18:53
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Encouraging faster growth overall should help, because those branches should eventually grow.

The right kind of fertilizer for your plants should help to speed growth overall. Some people say nitrogen helps leaves more than anything, but I find that potassium and phosphorus also help a great deal there, at least indoors. I think nitrogen helps a lot more outdoors than indoors, but that's just a limited, personal observation. I think maybe this observation is because the commercial soils and NPK fertilizers I've tried didn't have enough available phosphorus and potassium compared to nitrogen, usually, and my outdoor soil is probably different.

Perhaps more important than fertilizer for speeding growth is light. If you can put a lot of light on those new branches that you want to grow (not just sunlight), it should encourage them to grow more. I find that the parts of the plant with the most light tend to grow most and healthiest. So, you could dim the light in the parts you don't want the plant to focus on growing (not too much), and increase the light tremendously near the bottom with grow lights very close to the stem. This should work.

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    Nitrogen to plants is like sugar to people. Yes we all need the energy that sugar can provide but without proper nutrition, those empty carbs don't do anything for you at all. Same with plants, nitrogen makes them grow fast, but they'll burn out very quickly without completion nutrition. – Escoce Apr 11 '15 at 12:22

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