This is every year and different locations. Our peppers always stay spindly with leaves being a pale yellow. Soil is good with lots of compost this year. I have tried fertilizing, not fertilizing; water more, water less; nothing helps. All our other plants – veggies, fruits and flowers, including tomatoes, are really happy this year. Peppers are not. They were very healthy from a garden centre and transplanted almost a month ago with pretty much no growth since.
In order to thrive, Peppers, both sweet & hot, have some specific needs for growing well and producing an abundant harvest.
You mention that your plants are “spindly” – this would suggest your plants aren’t getting quite enough light and are stretching out, reaching for that sun. If you think of where peppers historically come from, they are hot sunny locations around the world. Plants, here in our northern climate have shorter days with less intense heat & light from the sun. So, going forward, if you want to grow this crop, find the sunniest part of your garden and plant them there.
Next, you mention that your plants have pale yellow leaves – this would suggest your plants are not getting enough nutrients which is resulting in chlorosis. Peppers are heavy feeders so you may want to use a 5-10-10 fertilizer now and then again when the plants have dime sized fruit. Ideally, the first feeding should be done at transplant but doing so now should be fine. Next year, wherever you decide to plant your peppers, dig some well rotted manure or compost into that location two weeks before transplant which will act as a slow release fertilizer, feeding the plants for longer.
Also, peppers need to take up magnesium from the soil which, depending on your soil type, may be in short supply. Sprinkling some Epsom salts on the soil surface around each plant and then gently working it in, will help. A thorough watering after you do this is advised. You can do this when the plants are in bloom and then again 10 days later.
Peppers also like to have a fairly evenly moist soil environment so mulching around the plants with a “dark” mulch will keep soil moisture levels from fluctuating between watering’s and have the added advantages of keeping the soil warmer and weeds under control.
As I’ve mentioned before, peppers are heavy feeders – they are members of the nightshade family along with tomatoes, eggplant and potatoes. This group of plants should be moved every year and not planted in the same place. After growing one of these groups it is advisable to grow members of the legume family in that location the following year, such as peas or beans, as they return nutrients to the soil. Having a successful vegetable garden takes planning and crop rotation should be part of that, see link below for further information.
Going forward, I would also advise getting a soil test done in order to determine soil pH and nutrient composition.