While it is well known that Black Pepper thrives in the tropics, most problems that arise when attempting to grow the plant in Australia come from growers trying to re-create the tropics for their plants.
This leads to more problems than it could possibly solve. Too much water is a major problem, especially during the cooler seasons.
Pipers love a dry ‘winter’ season and everywhere south of Cairns will experience this time period.
Growth slows to a halt and, during this time the plants are at their weakest.
They also love to have air circulating around and between plants. Hothouse and tunnel growers face the breeze production problem, but without it many fungus and bacteria problems can arise.
In Australia, direct sun is also an issue. Shade must be provided directly above, and to the west of the plants.
Historically, growing the climber commercially has been done using trees, logs or bark constructs, but we have found that the most successful method of support that allows for excellent aerial root establishment and secure footings for bud and flower formation is to create columns from ‘snake and rodent’ mesh filled with ‘coir’. The columns can be constructed at a diameter that suits the grower, from 45cm to 10cm. Vertical posts are essential to keep the column perpendicular and make it easy enough to create a bottom layer with the intention of adding more as the plants require the height.
As the plants extend their lateral growth, the stems can easily be attached to the mesh for support until they attach themselves.
We have found it more convenient to train the plants to grow around the column in a spiral form as their nature is too haphazard to be reliable.
It is essential to remember that the flowers are ‘rain’ pollinated and need no insect intervention.
To this end, irrigation should be placed above the plants if consistent rain is not likely.
Our Black Pepper potted plants will be available again by late Spring 2017.