Plant FAQs

Does Bonnie sell GMO plants?

No. Every plant we sell is grown from non-GMO seed.

My tomato plant is producing flowers, but no fruit. What’s wrong?

The most likely culprit is high temperatures. Though tomatoes are self-pollinating, when temperatures rise above 85 to 90 degrees F (depending on humidity) during the day and 75 degrees F at night, the pollen can’t do its job. Humidity can also come into play. When there’s too much of it, pollen may become so sticky that it does not fall. On the other end of the spectrum, in the arid regions, pollen may become so dry that it does not stick to the female part of the flower. The best thing to do is to keep your plants healthy and fertilized, and be patient. The plants will start to produce again when the weather becomes favorable. Note, though, that heirloom tomatoes can be even fussier about temperatures than most hybrid tomatoes, and in some areas will wait until late summer or early fall to start setting fruit.

Why aren’t my peppers are turning color the way they’re supposed to?

Have patience. It can take quite a while for peppers to turn from green to the red, yellow, or orange hue you’re waiting for. Chances are, your peppers just need a little more time.

Why is my plant wilting?

Wilting is most commonly the result of either over- or under-watering. Most plants only need between an inch and an inch and a half of water a week. If the plant is growing in a container, water when the top inch or so of potting soil becomes dry to the touch. It is best to water in the morning, at the base of the plant — that will help keep the foliage dry, which can deter some kinds of diseases. Mulching around plants can also help stave off disease by keeping water from splashing up onto the leaves; in addition, mulch helps keep weeds down and conserve moisture so you have to water less.

Why does my tomato plant have curled leaves?

Leaf curl is usually a response to environmental stress, such as too much heat or too much (or too little) water. Leaves may curl after a huge amount of rainfall or when the soil dries out. Tomatoes need an inch to an inch and a half of water a week from rainfall and/or irrigation. In a container, they need watering when the top inch or so of potting soil becomes dry to the touch. Leaf curl is more common in indeterminate varieties of tomatoes than determinate varieties. Either way, the condition should correct itself once the stress goes away.

Why are the leaves on my pepper/tomato/eggplant turning yellow?

Yellowing on the older leaves is commonly caused by a lack of nitrogen, which can be the result of overwatering. Most vegetables only need an inch to an inch and a half of water a week from rainfall and/or irrigation. Feed your plant more nitrogen by using a liquid fertilizer specifically for vegetables, such as Bonnie Herb, Vegetable & Flower Plant Food. Follow the directions on the label, and apply as often recommendations allow, because peppers, tomatoes, and eggplants are all heavy feeders.

Why are there spots on my tomato leaves?

It sounds like your tomato may be suffering from a fungal leaf spot. Remove any affected leaves, seal them in a bag, and dispose of them. Then, apply a fungicide, such as chlorothalonil (Daconil) or a copper-based fungicide (the organic alternative), to the plant; be sure to follow label instructions. To help prevent leaf spot in the first place, try to water in the morning, aiming the spray at the base of the plants to keep foliage dry to help prevent disease from taking hold. Mulching around your plant can also prevent water from splashing up onto the leaves (plus, it helps to conserve moisture and keep weeds to a minimum). You may also want to spray all of your tomato and pepper plants preventatively with one of the fungicides mentioned above; again, follow all directions.

Why do my squash/cucumber plants have lots of blooms but no fruit?

Cucurbits like squash and cucumbers have both male and female flowers, and need cross-pollination between the two. If something like heat or rain is keeping bees or other pollinators from doing their job properly, fruit often either won’t appear, or if it does, it will be small and shriveled. One solution is to try pollinating your cucurbits by hand. Read our article on hand-pollinating for instructions, and to see photos of male and female flowers.

Why aren’t my cauliflower plants forming heads?

In young broccoli and cauliflower plants, something called “buttoning” can occur when they experience stress, especially too-cold temperatures. Heads begin to develop prematurely, but never grow very big, and break up as soon as the flower stalk begins to grow. You can find a list of ways to prevent buttoning at the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service’s website.

How often do I need to water my plants?

A good rule of thumb is an inch of water per week, either by rain or watering; in arid climates, double that. In hot weather, vegetables need even more water, up to about a half an inch extra per week for every 10 degrees that the average temperature is above 60 degrees. You can measure an inch of water by putting a rain gauge or other container under your sprinkler, soaker, drip, or other watering system. You’ve applied an inch of water when the vessel collects water an inch deep. Container gardens may need to be watered more frequently than in-ground garden beds, so check the soil each day and add water if the top inch or so of potting soil is dry.

Why isn’t my cabbage forming a head?

Chances are, it’s too warm. Cabbages need cool weather, and will not form heads if the temperature is over 80 degrees F, due to the stress on the plant.

Why do my cucumbers taste bitter?

This is a common problem caused by high temperatures, dry soil, low fertility, or disease. Once a plant produces a bitter cucumber, it must be removed because all subsequent cucumbers will be affected in the same way. Also, don’t let cucumbers get oversized on the vine, or they will become bitter.

Why doesn’t my hot pepper have any heat?

The hotness of hot peppers depends on how much capsaicin (an alkaloid) is produced. Capsaicin levels vary by variety and are genetically determined, but are also influenced by temperature (the ideal temperature for growing hot peppers is between 70 and 85 degrees F) and cultural conditions, such as the amount of fertilizer and water provided to the plant. Generally, peppers are hotter after they have changed color and are fully ripe. Some hybrids just take a while to develop heat, so be patient: If you pick the fruits before they’re fully mature, they won’t be hot.

My squash plant was healthy, then all of a sudden it wilted. What happened?

When squash vines suddenly collapse, chances are it’s the work of squash vine borers, larvae that burrow into the plant and eat through the stem. Once this happens, you have two options: ignore them and harvest what your plant will give you until it finally succumbs (it won’t take long), or try your hand at surgery to remove them. If you have more than two months left in the growing season, you can also plant another batch of squash and watch them carefully from the beginning. Keep a eye out for squash borer eggs — they look like tiny brown seeds and are usually found near the base of the plant. If you see any, remove them immediately.

Why are the bottoms of my tomatoes turning black?

Your tomatoes have something called blossom end rot, usually caused by a lack of calcium and/or stress from changes in moisture. Read our article on blossom end rot to learn more and find out what to do about it.