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I have 20-odd chili plants (capsicum frutescens) indoors. Planted seeds last year around June. I think initially the plants were struggling with humidity, so I started spraying water in the air daily (I noticed a big jump in growth after that). I water the pots once the top of the soil gets dry (I dig a bit with my fingers to check soil humidity in case it's still damp). I'm not using any nutrients (most of the soil I use has N 160 mg/kg, P 220 mg/kg, K 550 mg/kg, humidity 35%)

Here's the thing, flower bulbs are growing on 50% of the plants, but once the flowers bloom, they last a few days open, they slowly start closing and then they wilt away and die (it's not just a few, it's all of the flowers I've had so far). I am manually pollinating them every 1-2 days.

Any insight? I've read that flowers wilting can be due to poor humidity, watering patterns, lack of nutrients... I'm a bit lost on what to look into next. Maybe I'll add pebbles at the bottom of every pot for drainage (used terracota pots with a plate underneath before in about 50% of the plants, but the growth was worse than with metallic pots, so I switched them all to the latter).

Here's a gallery of 3 of my chilis: https://imgur.com/a/ub0W512 (if it helps diagnose the problem, I can take pics of all plants and post them)

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  • do the chillies need pollination? Mar 23 at 11:06
  • @PolypipeWrangler They do need at least some kind of motion to pollinate, but a single flower can pollinate itself. Attempting to help in the pollination shouldn't hurt, and probably will help at least a certain amount. Mar 24 at 20:50
  • Yeah, I would honestly recommend giving those flowers a good "tickle" to make sure they are properly self pollinating. Mine will wilt like the ones in the picture if they aren't pollinated, and even with them being outside in the windy I still occasionally need to manually pollinate them.
    – Cavenfish
    Mar 25 at 2:35
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I would give them some monopotassium phosphate, in the soil. Phosphorus seemed to help an indoor pepper I had that was in a similar situation.

I have a feeling that calcium nitrate might help, too, as it's supposed to boost production, and calcium strengthens plants. I'm recommending this along with (not instead of) the monopotassium phosphate. Calcium nitrate can kill soil microbes, though (so, I like the idea of a foliar spray better, even though you need to wear goggles and a mask when spraying that fertilizer).

It looks like your plant actually does need calcium, by the way the leaves didn't form properly.

Another advantage of a foliar spray is you don't have to worry about what's available in the soil, the pH, and stuff like that. Also, you can fertilize without watering. Calcium nitrate also seems to repel aphids, in my experience.

If you don't have any access to stuff like this, wood ash (from untreated wood) is high in calcium. Adding a bit to the soil might help. Wood ash has a high pH (because of the calcium); so, adding too much could be bad. Some kinds of wood have a higher pH than others. I've never tried a foliar spray of wood ash, yet. I'm curious about that one.

Garden gypsum is a pH-neutral calcium source, but it doesn't have as many other minerals as wood ash does.

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