Pepper Mosaic Virus: Learn About Mosaic Virus On Pepper Plants

By Mary H. Dyer, Master Naturalist and Master Gardener

Mosaic is a viral disease that affects quality and reduces yield in a wide variety of plants, including sweet and hot peppers. Once infection occurs, there are no cures for mosaic virus on pepper plants, which is spread by pests. Even fungicides are of no use against pepper mosaic virus. Read on to learn more about mosaic virus on pepper plants.

Signs of Mosaic Virus in Peppers

The main signs of pepper plants with mosaic virus are stunted, pale green or leathery leaves, specks or ring spots, and a tell-tale mosaic appearance consisting of dark and light spots or streaks on the foliage – and sometimes the peppers.

Other signs of mosaic virus in peppers include curled or wrinkled leaves and stunted plant growth. Peppers with the disease may display blistered or warty areas.

Managing Mosaic Virus on Pepper Plants

Although pepper mosaic is transmitted by aphids, insecticides provide little control because the disease is transmitted quickly and plants are already infected by the time insecticides are applied. However, treating the aphids early in the season can slow spread of disease. Avoid chemical pesticides whenever possible. Usually, insecticidal soap spray or neem oil is effective and much safer for plants and the environment.

Discard seedlings that show any signs of pepper mosaic virus. Cover healthy seedlings with mesh to prevent aphid infestation. If that doesn’t work, remove diseased plants as soon as possible.

Wash your hands frequently while working in the garden, especially when the weather is damp or the leaves are wet. Also, sanitize garden tools after working with pepper plants, using a solution of one part bleach to four parts water.

Plant trap crops nearby, which may draw aphids away from your pepper plants. These may include:

Spray the trap plants with insecticidal soap when you see aphids on the plants. You can also try planting a few aphid-repellant plants around your pepper plants. For example, marigolds, onions and garlic are believed to keep aphids at bay.

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