Common Pepper Plant Problems

By Nikki Phipps
(Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden)

Many people grow peppers in vegetable gardens without any serious issues. However, pepper plant problems do happen now and then. Therefore, becoming familiar with some of the most common pepper plant problems is important.

Pepper Plant Bugs

Several insect pests attack pepper plants, especially bell pepper. Problems with pepper plant bugs are usually not too serious, however, as most of them can be easily removed by hand or with soapy water. Frequent inspection and prompt removal are important steps to control or alleviate the development of heavy infestations, which may require the use of pesticides. Since many bugs overwinter in nearby brush, it is a good idea to keep the garden area free of debris.

  • Cutworms are usually the most damaging and target seedlings.
  • Aphids cluster beneath leaves, excreting honeydew and causing spots. Pepper leaves become distorted and wilt.
  • Both armyworms and fruitworms feed on fruit pods and occasionally foliage.
  • Flea beetles attack young plants, which may exhibit numerous holes in the foliage.
  • Corn borers feed inside pepper pods.
  • Hornworms destroy the foliage of pepper plants but are large enough for easy hand removal.
  • Whiteflies can be extremely destructive to pepper plants. They not only help transmit harmful viruses, but also damage leaves, causing them to shrivel, yellow, and drop.

Pepper Plant Diseases

Most pepper plant diseases can be prevented by choosing and planting disease-resistant varieties. Rotating vegetable crops every other year and implementing proper watering techniques also help.

Fungus related diseases are the most common. Plants may exhibit discoloration, poor growth, and spots. Pepper leaves may yellow and drop. Healthy pepper plants require loose well-drained soil. Make sure pepper plants are located in areas with good drainage. Excessive moisture is the ideal environment for the development of fungus.

Bacterial pepper plant problems are often associated with infected seeds, try planting disease resistant types.

Viruses can destroy entire crops. The best way to avoid viral pepper plant problems is to use disease resistant varieties and practice crop rotation.

Here are some of the most common pepper plant diseases:

  • Southern blight is a fungal disease prevalent in warm climates. Stems rot and the plant wilts, eventually dying.
  • Another fungal disease associated with warm, humid conditions is powdery mildew. Plants exhibit white, powdery growth on the undersides of leaves.
  • Ripe rot occurs on ripening fruit that is kept in warm, humid conditions. Harvest peppers prior to use and store any unused peppers in a cool area away from direct light.
  • Blossom end rot is due to calcium deficiency and sporadic watering.
  • Sunscald is a result of too much exposure to direct sunlight. The fruit may become light colored and feel dry and papery.
  • One of the more common bacterial infections that affect peppers is bacterial leaf spot. With bacterial leaf spots, pepper leaves exhibit small yellowish spots. These may become brown or enlarge, leading to leaf drop.
  • Mosaic is the most commonly seen viral infection, with leaves having unusually mottled color.

Growing disease-resistant pepper varieties, rotating crops, and keeping the area free of debris will help minimize pepper plant problems. Excessive moisture is responsible for most pepper plant bugs and diseases. Good drainage, adequate spacing, and proper watering should help alleviate these issues.

This article was last updated on

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