We have a pepper tree, about 7 to 8 feet tall, that has never been totally well but this winter it started doing especially badly.

It appears weak in general, and it is drying out from the tops. In the photo below, all the tops used to have leaves, they have all gone over the past 2-3 months.

They are exposed to constant wind, and the winter was relatively cool for the region (with low points about 10°C, 50°F). This coincided with the tree getting so much worse.

It looks like we're now in for a very hot summer, with temperatures already in the thirties C (nineties F).

We've tried watering it generously, but are at a loss what else to do. Should we use fertilizer? Does anyone have any ideas?

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1 Answer 1


Likely its the cold doing it, and there's little you can do about that - they don't like temperatures below 20 degrees F, so your cooler temperatures might be causing a problem. It is a drought tolerant tree once established, and in fact, overwatering can cause chlorosis and branch growth that is prone to breakage. These trees can be cut right down if necessary, so it might be worth giving it a heavy prune to see if it grows healthily; it is a risk though, because this is best done when they're younger and less likely to suffer further damage from insect infestation or rot where they've been cut, so I'd only do that if it looks like its dying anyway, as a last resort. You can, though, remove any dead or dying smaller parts coming off the main limbs. I'm assuming, in this answer, that this tree is actually Schinus molle, and that you have inspected all branches and the trunk for signs of rot, infestation or other disease.

  • Thank you very much, this gives us something to ponder and work with! We will try pruning it gently.
    – Pekka
    May 10, 2015 at 19:33

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