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The new growth on one of my chilli plants looks to be healthier than the old growth. More regularly shaped leaves vs strange wrinkly leaves.

I want to cut back a bit of the old growth a bit at a time to encourage newer growth.

The plant is a bit of a runt. The newer growth does not come back in as quickly as the others.

If I accidentally kill it will this affect the other plants? I wouldn't really be able to dig out the roots.

  • If there is a disease whether viral, bacterial or fungal, yes, it will kill the other plants in the pot. What are you trying? I mean, this is sort of reinventing the wheel? You do not have to do that. More information, please. You are trying something and we've already been there done that. – stormy Jan 13 '18 at 10:11
  • If you have too many plants in the pot, then thin to remove the weaklings. – Graham Chiu Jan 13 '18 at 18:26
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    These are well established plants though not seedlings. – Megasaur Jan 14 '18 at 20:04
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As long as the plant isn't diseased, you don't ruin the soil, you don't uproot the plant (which could damage the other plants' roots), etc. the death of the plant should allow the other plants to grow larger and produce better (due to the increased space and nutrient availability)—unless the rotting dead roots harbor bad fungi or something.

I've had multiple plants per pot many times, and the death of one has always allowed the others to get bigger. I've never had issues with it harming other plants, even with the roots of that one rotting (not to say it doesn't happen). I just had them in those containers pre-transplant (but I did let some grow for months that way—mostly tomatoes, but other things, too, including peppers).

Peppers have sensitive roots—much more sensitive than tomatoes. You don't want to uproot the old one unless you don't mind waiting potentially a long time for the others to recover (snipping it off with scissors is a better idea, IMO and experience). Tomatoes can recover pretty fast, though (like in a few days). Peppers can take weeks or months to recover sometimes, depending, but they may not always take so long.

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If they are well established plants and their roots overlap, removing the roots of the dead one will disturb the roots of the live ones, so it's a good option to just let them be.

Once the roots die, the other plants will start to take over the soil between them. These other plants will be affected if you don't reduce the quantity of water you provide them with and they end up overwatered.

Keep in mind that even if the plant you plan to trim doesn't die, you have to cut back watering a little bit because it will consume less.

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