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This is my first year growing chili peppers in my hydroponic setup and I didn't have very good luck in terms of fruit. Most of my super-hots only dropped flowers, though I did get one singular ghost pepper, which I named Gary.

One of my major problems was not understanding pruning, so I ended up with these really leggy plants. Now I have a much better idea of what I should have done, so I decided to cut my losses and cut back the plants, most of them to below the Y, but I'm wondering if starting them over will be effective.

They have great roots, and they seem to be growing a lot of new shoots, but seeing as I don't really know what I'm doing, I was hoping to get some confirmation that I'm not wasting my time here. Some of the less hot ones did produce some fruit - does that make a difference? Should I just take the time to start from seed again?

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What are you doing for pollination?

They do self pollinate, but without wind nor insects it can be hard.

I only overwinter my habanero plants indoors, but the best I've got from fully indoor flowers has been 3 habaneros from two different plants.

All of them had about two to three viable seeds, so I could be wrong but I'm assuming it's more a matter of uneven pollination rather than lack of nutrients or light conditions.

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    I am pollinating manually with a q-tip, and I have a fan circulating the air. I moved it to a 12/12 cycle and the temperature during the day and night is good. I think I had some kind of nutrient deficiency, but I'm not sure why that would be the case. I think at this point, I'm going to see what it does after aggressive pruning. – Ryan Anderson Jan 21 '16 at 17:59
  • Maybe P,K deficiency? Still think hand pollinating is hard enough to get wrong. Pruning will possibly improve vigor but probably not help with your root cause. – gengren Jan 22 '16 at 1:01
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As you described it seems to be a pollination problem. In indoor gardening, you can use a q-tip to manually fecond the flowers or simply shake your plants and rub them with each other. Take a look at this article for more information.

As gengren explained, if there is no air movement nor insects the pollen (the flower "sperm") cannot land on the gynoecium (which contains plant ovules) and fecondate the flower. As for human reproduction, without fecondation, there won't be any fruit.

To answer your question, if there is no flower nor little fruit anymore you should restart from seeds. If you're doing hydro, I suppose that you have a specific flowering bulb (for the light) which you set on summer end cycle. As pepper is a annual plant, they die after producing fruits, or in your case, after a vegetative phase.

  • I don't think that's the problem in this case. I've kept the air moving, and have been manually pollinating. I suspect I let the plants get a little out of control and they weren't getting what they needed. A few of the plants produced fruit, but none of the super-hots. I'm going to watch them for a few weeks and see what they do, but so far they seem to be growing a lot of new shoots pretty quickly. If nothing comes of it, I'll follow your suggestion and start again - I'm planning on changing my system and grow medium slightly anyway. Thanks! – Ryan Anderson Jan 21 '16 at 18:02
  • Pollen can be killed by water (even wet atmosphere) and heat. – imrok Jan 21 '16 at 19:12
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    Peppers are not annuals. Some bell peppers may have been bred into annuals, but the hot ones are definitely not, even though they all can fruit within a year AFAIK. In the tropics they keep producing flowers and fruit for many years. Whether it's worth the bother to keep them alive is another question. – gengren Jan 22 '16 at 1:04

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