Pepper plants are a staple in most vegetable gardens. They’re easy to grow and add great flavor to countless dishes. Mild varieties, like bell peppers, are essential in many kinds of salads and for healthy snacking. Pepper plants are easy to grow, but once in a while a problem will arise. It’s good to become familiar with some issues with peppers in case this happens. If you’re able to identify the problem, it’s easy to search for a solution on Gardening Know How.
Problems Growing Peppers
Whether it’s pepper plant bugs attacking them or the numerous diseases that can affect pepper plants, your first line of defense is knowing what to look for.
Common Pepper Plant Bugs
There are several insects and creatures that enjoy feeding on pepper plants. Most of them can be easily removed by hand or with a spray of soapy water. You’ll need to check your plants frequently for bugs and worms to make sure they don’t proliferate. Keeping the garden area around your pepper plants clean and free of dead leaves and debris is important – insects love to hide and breed in dead or decaying plant material.
Here are some pests that love pepper plants:
- Cutworms are usually the most damaging to peppers and they especially like the young seedlings.
- Aphids will cluster beneath pepper plant leaves, excreting honeydew, which attracts other insects. Aphids create spots, distort the plants’ leaves and will make them wilt.
- Both armyworms and fruitworms love to feed on new, tender pepper pods, and will also occasionally munch on the foliage.
- Flea beetles attack young plants. If they’re present, you’ll see distinct holes in the foliage.
- Corn borers find their way to the inside of the pepper pods and destroy them.
- Hornworms can decimate a pepper plant, but they’re so large you can pluck them off by hand.
- Whiteflies can be extremely destructive to pepper plants. They can transmit harmful viruses, and cause leaves to shrivel, yellow and drop.
Pepper Plant Diseases
When choosing your pepper plants and seeds, try to stick with disease-resistant varieties. You can look on seed packages for a code to tell you about this. For example, codes like HR: BLS 1-3 or IR: TEV mean that plants grown from these seeds will have a strong resistance to bacterial leaf spot and certain viruses. Bacterial problems with peppers often come from planting infected seeds. One virus can destroy an entire crop of peppers.
The most common diseases in pepper plants are fungus related. Plants may get discolored, grow poorly and develop spots. You may see leaves turning yellow and dropping. Don’t forget that healthy pepper plants require loose, well-drained soil. Destructive strains of fungus can flourish in an environment where there’s too much water.
Here are six of the most common pepper plant diseases:
- Bacterial leaf spot is one of the more common infections in pepper plants. It causes yellowish spots on the leaves which may turn brown or enlarge, and will cause leaf drop.
- Mosaic virus is also a common viral infection that attracts insects. There’s not much that can be done to alleviate this one because once it’s invaded the plant, it’s already too late to treat it. It causes limited production and stunting of the plant and its leaves.
- Southern blight is a fungal disease that’s prevalent in warm climates. Stems rot and the plant wilts, eventually dying.
- Powdery mildew can appear mostly on the undersides of leaves. It’s associated with warm, humid conditions.
- Blossom end rot is due to calcium deficiency and sporadic watering. Ripe rot occurs on ripening peppers growing in warm, humid conditions. Harvest peppers prior to use and store any unused peppers in a cool area away from direct light.
- Sunscald is a result of too much exposure to direct sunlight. The fruit may become light colored and feel dry and papery.
Preventing Pepper Plant Problems
Rotate your vegetable crops each season to prevent buildup in the soil of diseases or insects. Grow disease-resistant pepper varieties. Keep the pepper garden free from debris. Make sure your plants don’t get excessive moisture and soil is well-draining.