Happy, healthy pepper plants have deep green leaves attached to the stems. If you see leaves dropping from pepper plants, you should act quickly to prevent serious damage and to save your crop. Read on for additional information on pepper plant leaf drop and the many possible reasons for falling pepper leaves.
Leaf Drop in Pepper Plants
When you see pepper leaves falling off young plants, you have to figure out what is causing the problem. Generally, it is either the result of incorrect cultural practices or else pest or disease issues.
To thrive, pepper plants need a very sunny planting location and moist soil with good drainage. If they lack either of these elements, you may see leaves dropping from pepper plants.
Pepper plants grow happily in regions with warm summers. If the temperatures fall below 60 degrees Fahrenheit (16 C.) during a chilly evening or a cold snap, you may see pepper leaves falling off the plant stems.
While you can’t control the temperature of an outdoor garden, you can be sure to plant peppers in an area that gets full sun in your garden. This is likely to be the warmest location even when temperatures drop a little.
Overwatering and Underwatering
Both overwatering and underwatering can result in pepper plant leaf drop. You should water mature plants once or twice a week, no more, no less. Don’t run for the hose in the heat of the day if you see the pepper leaves wilting. Leaves naturally droop a little at this time, but they don’t need water.
Excess watering can cause the plants to get root rot. In that case, you are sure to see pepper leaves falling off the plants. But failure to provide the weekly inch (2.5 cm.) of irrigation can lead to drought conditions. That also will cause falling pepper leaves.
Pepper plant leaf drop can result from too much nitrogen-heavy fertilizer. Even adding fertilizer to the planting hole can burn the plant.
Pests and Disease
If your pepper plants are infested by aphids, these pests will suck the juices from pepper foliage. The result is pepper leaves falling off the plants. Control aphids by bringing in predator insects like ladybugs. Alternatively, prevent aphid caused leaf drop in pepper plants by spraying with insecticidal soap.
Both fungal and bacterial infections also cause leaf drop in pepper plants. Inspect the leaves dropping from pepper plants. If they yellow or shrivel before dropping, suspect a fungal infection. Prevent fungal infections by spacing your plants correctly and keeping water off leaves and stems when irrigating.
When the falling pepper leaves have brown or black spots, the plants may suffer from a bacterial infection. In this case, you should destroy the infected plants to prevent the spread of the infection to garden neighbors.