Although some sorts of pepper might be more than spicy, they are also tender and sensitive plants. There are many factors which need to be attended, to have healthy plants. Many things can go wrong, and because of that, I have decided to put together this list. 25 common pepper problems and how to fix them are presented in this article, and I hope this article will be used to solve any bad situations you have.
Which Tools Are Required?
Generally speaking, depending on the situation, you may need just a few tools, or the solution of the problem will be just doing something different. In any case, I won’t list them here, but keep in mind that you will probably need fertilizer and soil test kit. I believe that you already have them, but just to point out two specific things which will be required.
Because of better organization, I’ll do my best to make groups of causes, so that you can find your way quickly. These groups will be about physical conditions, those caused by microorganisms and damage produced by pests.
Problems listed in this group are caused by bad habits or just bad weather. Although the weather cannot be affected, there are specific measures which can be applied to mitigate the damage.
Appearance and cause – although peppers are thirsty plants, they shouldn’t be watered too much and too often. If you exaggerate with water, the plant will look as if it is dry, and that usually makes people confused. If you see that leaves are losing vitality without change of color, check the watering schedule.
Solution – a rule of thumb is to water peppers regularly, but in small quantities. As harvesting season approaches, cut on water. This is vital since water in this period can dilute the taste, which is important if you are growing jalapeno peppers.
Appearance and cause – in case that there are no signs of damage to the foliage of the plants, but the leaves look wilted, take a closer look at the ground around the vegetables. If it is dry and cracked, increase water intake.
Solution – do not increase the amount of water in one watering, keep smaller quantities, but apply them more often. As soon as the plant receives water, it should look better.
Stunted Growth Of Stems And Fruits
Appearance and cause – the plant grows regularly, but it is much smaller than it should be. Once fruits are ripe, they are few in numbers and are also small. The cause is probably lousy nutrition.
Solution – add 5:10:10 fertilizer to the soil around the plant. If you don’t want to spend money, you can make fertilizer on your own.
Stunted Growth Of Fruits, But The Stems Are Nicely Developed
Appearance and cause – as the name suggests, the plant and leaves are beautifully developed, have deep green color and are healthy. The leading cause of this is too much nitrogen in the ground since it helps with the development of green parts.
Solution – do not overdo with nitrogen-rich fertilizers. Already mentioned 5:10:10 is suitable for peppers, as well as blood meal or fish emulsion.
Too Few Fruits Develop
Appearance and cause – there are only, but a few fruits on plants and those are small comparing to standard size. Low temperatures can cause this to happen, and there is not much you can do at this stage.
Solution – Applying ground cover might fetch you a few degrees, and be sure that the weather is suitable for planting. Peppers require a temperature between 60 and 75°F.
Flowers Aren’t Producing Fruits And Will Fall Off
Appearance and cause – again, low temperature causes this problem. This usually means that you have planted peppers too soon, and pollinating process cannot be completed.
Solution – if cold weather surprises you during spring, apply soil cover, and cages to protect the plants from cold.
Blossom End Rot
Appearance and cause – the lower, pointier end of the pepper looks rotten and often black parts and mold can develop. Several reasons may cause this condition. Misbalanced pH, high temperature or lack of calcium may be responsible for this to happen.
Solution – if pH drops below 6.0, use limestone. Keep watering in regular cycles, and if the temperature goes above 90°F, apply mulch. This will also help with the water problem.
Appearance and cause – as the name says, the damage made to fruits are caused by sunlight. It manifests as white spots on peppers where the sun burned them. Fruits like these can be partially used, but the taste will be somewhat wrong.
Solution – too vigorous pruning will reduce the shade which function is to protect fruits from burning. If you have already pruned too much, consider row covers or creating a shadow in any other way. Next year, keep this in mind.
Appearance and cause – the emergence of yellowish edges of leaves might mean that you have pruned the plant too much. Also, higher temperatures are increasing chances for this to happen.
Solution – once the leaves are cut, there is not much you can do. Try increasing intake of nutrients so that it will be overall healthier and more resistant to this problem.
Stunted Growth Of Fruits Which Can Also Be Flattened
Appearance and cause – bad pollination causes this to happen. Since peppers are pollinated by insects, this might occur if peppers are planted too soon, when most of the bees and other flower-friendly bugs are not active.
Solution – a gentle shake of branches will increase the pollinating rate to some extent, but you will need insects for the next year. Either wait for the weather to be warmer, or plant marigolds to attract bees.
Even though some spicier varieties of peppers might be used as an organic insecticide, there are still enough of these rascals which will be more than happy to wreak havoc on your plants. They can feed on stems, leaves, and fruits, so take a good look if you notice that something is not right with your peppers.
Appearance and cause – these little guys are living below the surface and are coming out to feed on plants, and since peppers have thin stems, they can cut them above the ground. This is how you will know that you are dealing with these pests.
Solution – make a sort of collar out of cardboard. The paper cup can do the trick. This way they won’t be able to reach the stem.
Colorado Potato Beetle
Appearance and cause – although this striped pirate is attacking potatoes primarily, it can migrate to tomatoes and peppers. They leave eaten leaves behind, and since they are easily distinguished from other pests, their presence also means trouble.
Solution – destroying eggs by hand is the first thing you could do, and eliminate adults along the way. In cases of heavy infestation, make a tea out of basil and spray away.
Appearance and cause – this caterpillar appeared in cartoon “Alice in Wonderland”, so you will recognize it when you see it. It is about 3” long, thick and green. Also, its appetite is impressive and can eat a lot. Eaten leaves are left behind.
Solution – as always, I’m a firm advocate of non-lethal measures. Marigolds will attract bees and will keep hornworms away, so plant them. And are nice looking as well.
White Foam On Plants
Appearance and cause – spittlebugs will cause the presence of this foam. They will create some damage, which is not that bad, so even if you leave them, they won’t harm the plants as much.
Solution – since these bugs are living in this foam, it is easy to remove and destroy them.
Appearance and cause – these small pests live in large colonies and can cause quite a bit of damage. They are not easy to spot, but since they are making web-like structures, you can't miss them. Wilted flowers can also be caused by them.
Solution – steady stream of water can shake off most of them, but if you wish to finish the job, use their natural enemies, such as lacewings.
White Spots On Leaves
Appearance and cause – these are usually caused by thrips, small insects which are feeding on foliage. What is left behind them looks like a scar on the leaves. Their appearance is connected with weeds present around the garden.
Solution – remove any weed right away, and in cases of heavier infestation, diatomaceous earth is your best bet.
Stunted Growth And Deformed Roots
Appearance and cause – this problem is caused by Root-knot nematodes, tiny worms which are eating their way through the root system. Even though they are small, the damage they make is quite apparent.
Solution – you can try to add fish emulsion which can help the plant to recover from toxins which these worms produce, and also rotate crops on a regular basis since eggs can stay dormant in the soil and activate later.
Lower Leaves Have Tiny Round Holes
Appearance and cause – flea beetles, are causing this type of damage, and they can be seen by the naked eye but will jump away when they are disturbed, so that is how you will recognize them.
Solution – Diatomaceous Earth can be used effectively against them, as well as row covers. The latter should be left on the plant until it gets stronger, so it can deal with the damage.
Black Goo Under Leaves
Appearance and cause – this sticky, black matter is left behind by none other than aphids. They are frequent visitors in every garden and can be treated easily. Also, the damage they cause is visible so that you won’t miss them.
Solution – the most efficient and precise way to battle them is to use their natural enemies. Mantis, ladybug, and lacewing will feed on aphids, but the trouble is real when aphids ally (and they will) with ants. Since ants are feeding on this black matter which aphids are producing, they will defend them as well. And yes, I’m serious.
Leaves Are Turning Yellow, Then Brown
Appearance and cause – this is most likely the case of whiteflies. They are feeding on juices of the plant, and during their feasting time, leaves are losing vitality, and in the end, the whole plant may die. You will recognize them as a white cloud which is lifted when the plants are disturbed.
Solution – insecticidal soap is probably your best bet on this matter, just dilute it with water, and spray them. It will either suffocate or wash away any whitefly which reaches.
Not all culprits can be seen by naked eye. Some of them would require a microscope, but still, the damage that can be caused by fungi or viruses can be severe, and more than often, there is no cure
Dark Spots On Leaves And Stem
Appearance and cause – if you notice that there are almost black blotches on the stem of peppers, it is highly likely that the vegetable is suffering from Early Blight. This is a fungus which thrives in damp surroundings with a lot of heat.
Solution – prevention is the only way you can tackle this problem, and because of that, try to avoid watering over foliage, and keep the temperature low during hot periods. Mulching is an excellent way to cool down the soil around the plant.
Appearance and cause – this problem is caused by a fungus which remains active for a long time. The most certain sign that pepper is suffering from Verticillium wilt is the stem which will split in two in length.
Solution – since this fungus is very resistant, avoid planting peppers in areas where tomatoes or eggplants were. Also, see to buy seeds of varieties which are more resistant to this microorganism.
Curled Leaves With Areas Of Different Color
Appearance and cause – mosaic virus is one of the most dangerous pests which can attack your garden. It spreads fast, and there is no cure for it. Furthermore, if you are a smoker, always wash your hands after gardening, since it can attach to tobacco as well.
Solution – since there is no cure for this virus, remove infected plants immediately, and don’t use them for fertilizing.
Leaves Have Dark Tips; This Color Spreads Further Across Leaf
Appearance and cause – this is one of the main reasons why you should keep weeds from your garden. Namely, weeds are an excellent source of food for thrips, and those are carrying Spotted Wilt Virus. Leaves will have tips colored in dark shades, and the infection will spread further.
Solution – try with cutting off infected leaves, and if you are lucky, the plant might survive. In case that infection is spreading, the only way to tackle this problem is to remove plants in whole.
Fruits Are Squishy And Appear To Contain More Water
Appearance and cause – if peppers are soft to touch and are falling apart, it is highly likely that the plant is struck by Anthracnose, which is another fungal disease. It is a very resistant fungus which can stay alive during winter, and come up again in the spring.
Solution – solutions which are containing copper or sulfur can be useful, so you will have to give it a try. Also, get rid of the fruits, since the seeds can carry spores of this fungus, and the process goes the next spring again.
So, here they are. 25 common pepper problems and how to fix them are listed above, and I hope that you won’t be needing this list. In case that you are starting to develop a green thumb, bookmark this page, since many problems which are listed here can be prevented by proper care, so it would be most beneficial to know in advance.
As always, if you have questions, opinions or advice, feel free to use the comment section below.