What is wrong with my peppers?

(Question)

I live in Ottawa and have three pepper plants planted in a square foot garden (they have plenty of peat and compost). I planted them two weeks ago and they have seemed to have adapted well. Today, the upper leaves and buds on two of my peppers (one a sweet banana pepper, and the second a ring of fire hot pepper) are suddenly down turned and wrinkling. At first I thought they had wilted but upon examining them, they are still firm and not soft as they would be if wilted. Why could this be and is it something that I should be worried about? My third pepper, a habanero, seems to be doing just fine. I have attached a photo of the ring of fire hot pepper. I have one of the banana pepper as well and can forward it if necessary.

Thank you for your help!

(Answer)

Thank you for writing, and for attaching your photo:

Today is May 27. Doing the math, you would have planted your peppers 2 weeks ago, on May 13. Your planting medium looks to be moist, and the leaves are a rich, healthy green, with no visual evidence of pests or disease. So your plant and the growing environment seem to be very good.

Last week, however, central Ontario experienced a record frost, on May 22, of -2C., which has sent many agriculturalists, and of particular concern, grape growers, into an unfortunate tailspin.

From your photo, it looks as if your planting box is outdoors. It may be possible then, that on day 9 of being planted, that your two pepper plants suffered from some frost bite. Ottawa is a significant distance north from the grape vines of Prince Edward County, and the Niagara escarpment. If the third pepper, the habanero, wasn’t affected, this may have been due to the lesser viscosity of the leaf structure. That is, the more H2O in the cell structure of a leaf, the greater the chance for frost bite.

Keep an close eye on your plant-lings. If the unhappy parts don’t revive, then remove them, with clean secaturs, and let the plants, which will still have healthy root systems, replace those leader stems with new growth.

Thank you for sharing your gardening questions with the TMG, and please let us know how this resolved for you !