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Does it matter where on the stalk you cut or remove the fruit off the plant so that you don't suck away its future earning potential?

Let's take the photo here, of a Cayenne pepper (Capsicum annuum), where the chilli is now ripe and ready to burn up the dinner plate.

tight shot of a cayenne pepper on the stalk

Usually from the store, this type of chilli comes with some of the stem at the end of the red.

In order to make sure the plant keeps on keeping on, can you just pluck out the red part and leave the nub? Or do you have to cut it off the plant somewhere along the lines where the sun doth shine?

3 Answers 3

17

You'll find that in most plants, it is very easy to pluck the fruit by removing the stalk from the node (marked in blue) on the stem. If you do remove it from there, the wound is very minimal and the plant heals very quickly.

enter image description here

Now it might not be that much of a problem (in terms of being prone to diseases) if you snip them off mid-stalk with scissors/pruners. However, the plant will slow down the fruit production until the rest of the stalk has dried fully and fallen off the stem. So in a sense, you're aiding the plant by removing it at the node on the first go.

This is the same advice given for flowering plants: the flowers to encourage new flowers. Fruits are merely pregnant flowers. So more flowers -> more fruits.

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  • I might add that to pick them at the node, you don't have to pull hard on the fruit or the stem. If you push or turn the stem in the correct direction, it should snap at the node easily, without a struggle. With the pepper pictured here, I would probably push it up. May 9, 2017 at 4:01
  • Dead-heading is a cosmetic practice. It does not stimulate flower growth.
    – Reid
    Sep 30, 2019 at 23:06
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@yoda's answer makes sense, but to be honest I just pull them off - usually they break at the node as that is the weak point. If they come off at the 'cap' then I do remove the rest of the stem - but that is the only time.

I haven't noticed any problems or reducing fruit. You do want to remove the peppers when ripe (or when they are ripe enough for you - most green peppers are technically not ripe!), so that the plant produces more fruit. Keeping ripe fruit on the plant discourages new fruit forming.

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  • If you grow hot peppers, you might want to wear gloves when you pick them. I hear chillies can burn your hands with the juices or something. Don't rub your eyes, either. You probably know that if this isn't your first time growing them, though. Dec 20, 2014 at 0:42
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I concur with both answers above: break the fruit off at the point Lorem Ipsum has illustrated. Just a tiny detail to add. That point (called 'knee' in my language, I am unsure about English) houses the plant's mechanism to drop the fruit when it is ripe. From the pictures I am under the impression those are red-ish instead of crimson-red.

So on the topic of "when to pick peppers":

  • should be saturated red
  • if any wrinkling - which starts at the tip of the fruit - occurs, pick immediately
  • pull on the red-est fruits; if they pick off - they are ready(the plant is preparing for dropping them on the ground), else perhaps wait longer for a bigger fruit and more taste.

How to pick:
hold the fruit stem(nub) and twist it upwards at the knee (basically turn the knee in the direct opposite direction to which it is hanging). This works for all plants I've ever seen.

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