12 Common Pepper Plant Diseases And Pepper Problems

Pepper plants are one of the most versatile and easier plants to grow in your garden. But growing these plants doesn’t always come without complications. Whether you’re just starting your garden or have some experience under your belt, understanding what can potentially set back the growth of your plants will enable you to effectively combat the issue. Before you plant, it’s best to be aware of some common issues that can arise when growing peppers. Let’s discuss some of those common pepper plant diseases and pepper problems you might experience during your gardening journey.

Common pepper plant diseases

Just like any plant in your garden, pepper plants can be exposed to a variety of diseases. Some include:

Mosaic Virus

This is a common virus that affects more than 150 types of plants, including fruits, vegetables, and flowers. This disease is mainly spread by insects, specifically aphids and leafhoppers.

Mosaic virus in a young pepper plant
Mosaic virus on a young pepper plant

Mosaic virus is characterized by leaves that are mottled with yellow, white, and light or dark green spots and streaks, giving a “mosaic” of colors. Other signs that your pepper plant has mosaic virus include curled or wrinkled leaves and stunted plant growth. Additionally, plants with this disease may have blistered or watery areas.

Leaf spots

If your pepper plant has leaf spots, this means that your plant has a limited, discolored, diseased area of a leaf. These spots are caused by fungus and can be found in your outdoor garden as well as indoor houseplants.

Essentially, fungal spores in the air find a warm, wet plant surface to attach to. Once it attaches, the fungus begins to reproduce, which leads to tiny, brown fungal leaf spots.

Blight

Blight is a fungal disease that spreads through spores blown in the wind from one area to another. This allows the infection to spread rapidly on plants. Early signs of blight can be hard to spot, but brown patches on the leaves and stem tend to appear quickly.

It’s important to note that blight only spreads under warm, humid conditions. Additionally, it only comes after two consecutive days of temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity above 90% for eleven or more hours.

Two sweet peppers impacted by rot
Two sweet peppers impacted by rot

Rot

Pepper plants can rot due to calcium deficiency in the pepper plant. Calcium is necessary because it helps the plant develop the cell walls of the pepper. If the plant lacks calcium or grows too fast for the plant to supply enough calcium, this can cause the bottom of the pepper to begin rotting as the cell walls collapse.

Causes of calcium deficiency may include the following:

  • Lack of calcium in the soil
  • Overwatering
  • Periods of drought followed by an excess of water
  • An excess of nitrogen, potassium, sodium, or ammonium

Mildew

Powdery mildew can affect the leaves on a pepper plant. It’s important to note that while mildew often occurs on older leaves, it can develop at any stage of crop development. Mildew on pepper plants can be characterized by a patchy, white powdery growth that eventually covers the entire lower leaf surface.

The edges of the infected leaves might roll upwards, exposing fungal growth. As a result, the diseased leaves drop from the plants and leave the pepper plant exposed to the sun. This exposure can result in sunburn.

Common pepper problems

Beyond common pepper plant diseases, peppers can face various problems while growing. Some impact the plant itself, while others impact the fruit. Common problems include:

Pests/Infestations

Pests and infestations are a common problem for pepper plants and plants alike. Infestations can cause deterioration or death of your plant, but it is a treatable problem. Common infestations that your plant may experience include aphids, spider mites, mealybugs, fungus gnats, thrips, and slugs.

Aphid infestation on a plant leaf
An aphid infestation on a plant leaf

Under-watering

Another common pepper plant problem is under-watering plants. Plants that are underwatered generally grow slowly and have brown, dry leaf edges. The plants may drop leaves or the plant may fail to flower.

Overwatering

Plants that grow from soil that’s too wet experience a lack of oxygen. This leads to the death of the roots and loss of vigor in the plant. One common symptom of overwatering is slow growth, accompanied by yellowed leaves.

| Learn the dos and don’ts of watering pepper plants

Broken stems

Stems are a vital component of plant growth because they transport nutrients from the soil to the leaves and blossoms. Unfortunately, these stems sometimes become broken during the growing process. Broken stems can be a result of numerous things, including high winds, heavy rain, or poor handling.

Sun scald

It’s not uncommon to find sun scald on peppers in the high heat of summer when the humidity is at its peak. In most instances, the foliage on pepper plants helps shield them from the sun’s UV rays. But there are some instances where the leaves partially defoliate due to disease or insects. This leaves the pepper plants vulnerable to the sun.

Frost

Avoiding frost is key to protecting your pepper plants because plants that frost generally die. With that said, pepper plants can handle a temperature above freezing.

Temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit will slow the growth of mature pepper plants and will stunt the growth of seedlings. Pepper plants growing at temperatures of 32 degrees Fahrenheit or below will likely die, as they cannot survive those cold temperatures.

Birds and animals

Another problem to consider when growing your pepper plant is protecting it from outside critters. Pepper plants can be damaged or eaten by a variety of pests, insects, birds, and animals. This alone can cause your pepper plants to become spoiled.


UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on December 6, 2021 to include new content. It was originally published on November 8, 2021.
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