Even with ideal conditions and tender loving care, crops can suddenly be afflicted with a pest or disease. Peppers are no exception, and a common malady is black spots on peppers. If the black spots are only on the peppers, the cause is usually environmental, but if the entire pepper plant is dotted with spots, it may have pepper black spot or other disease.
Why are There Spots on My Peppers?
As mentioned, if there are spots on just the fruit, the cause is probably environmental. Blossom end rot is a possible culprit. This starts as a small brown to tan spot at the bottom end of the pepper that feels soft or leathery to the touch. It is usually caused by inconsistent watering. Be sure that the soil stays moist an inch (2.5 cm.) below the surface. General watering practices indicate an inch (2.5 cm.) of water per week but depending on weather or if the pepper is in a pot, additional watering may be needed.
Sunscald is another environmental condition that may result in black spots on peppers. Sunscald is just what it sounds like – intense summer heat scalding areas of the fruit that are the most exposed. Use shade cloth or other shading material to cover the pepper plants during peak sun and heat in the afternoon.
Additional Reasons for Pepper Plants with Spots
If the whole pepper plant, not just the fruit, is being peppered by black spots, the culprit is a disease. The disease may be fungal or bacterial.
Anthracnose is a fungal disease that causes brown or black spots on fruit, and wet rot (Choaenephora blight) causes black growths on leaves as well as fruit. Generally, with fungal disease, once the plant has it there is no cure and the plant should be discarded, although fungicides can occasionally help alleviate symptoms. In the future, buy disease resistant plants or seeds and avoid watering overhead.
Bacterial diseases like bacterial leaf spot not only result in black spots on the leaves but a general distortion or twisting. Clear raised bumps appear on fruit and gradually turn black as the disease progresses.
Pepper black spot appears as round to irregularly shaped spots on mature fruit. These spots are not raised but the discoloration continues into the fruit. It is unknown the causal nature of black spot, but it is thought to be physiological.
To prevent black spots on pepper plants, always buy disease resistant varieties and treated seeds, water at the base of the plants, and shade them during the hottest part of the day. Also, use row covers to prevent pest infestation, be consistent with irrigation and fertilization, and plant peppers in well-draining soil.