Pepper plants can be a great addition to your home garden and are generally pretty easy to grow and take care of. If you decide to be a bit adventurous, and grow pepper plants beyond the bell pepper variety, then you might be presented with some unique challenges and situations. The process can be riddled with issues, and knowing how to solve specific problems is valuable. Before you begin on this pepper planting adventure, it might be helpful to get a sense of some of the most common pepper plant problems and ways to address those issues.
In that spirit, here are 15 of the most common pepper plant problems you might run into, along with reasons why they might be happening as well as some common fixes. This, combined with some specific research into the exact pepper plant, should be more than enough to have a thriving pepper plant garden at home!
Why Is My Pepper Plant Seed Not Germinating?
Germination of pepper seeds is one of the most important parts of the process. If the seeds do not take, there will be no saving the plant, and new seeds will have to be bought. Depending on your location, by the time you notice germination has not taken place, you may be out of season and might need to wait until the next season to try and grow your pepper plants.
The most common reason that pepper seeds do not germinate is the temperature of the soil. Pepper plants need to be kept warm and moist—almost no breeds or types of pepper plants can survive with soil that is warmer than 80 degrees Farenheit.
Keeping the soil above 80 degrees Farenheit can be a challenge in most climates, so it is recommended to start the germination process indoors. Normally, the process takes about a week to a week and a half, but some breeds can take much longer.
Why Is My Pepper Plant Drooping?
Almost all plants, peppers included, droop for one main reason: a lack of water. If your pepper plants are drooping but do not look dead or wilted yet, you can likely save them by watering them more often.
The amount of water your pepper plant requires depends on the type of pepper, but most need between one to two inches of water per week. This will keep the plants hydrated but not overwatered, and, in turn, stop the drooping from happening.
Be sure not to overwater your pepper plants in an effort to stop drooping as this can overhydrate and essentially drown the plants. If you are unaware of how much water your specific breed of pepper plant needs, slowly add a bit more water each week until the drooping stops.
Why Is My Pepper Plant Not Growing?
Unfortunatelym there is no single reason why your pepper plant might not be growing properly. When approaching this problem, it is best to go down a checklist to determine what might be causing this issue. Keep in mind that it is possible to have multiple reasons why your plant is not growing so fixing this issue could take some time.
Some possible reasons your pepper plant might not be growing as expected are:
- Cold temperatures
- Lack of sun
- Inadequate water
- Too much water
- Acidic soil
- Dead seeds
This list is in a rough order of “most common” to “least common” issues, but any can kill a pepper plant’s growth.
Pepper plants are particularly suceptive to the cold, and most regions of the world are not warm enough to sustain them when grown outside. So, if you are not keeping your plants indoors or in a heated greenhouse, this is could be the reason your plant is not growing well.
Pepper plants require sun all day, which means that growth can slow down even during a week of cloudy weather. Consider getting a sun or heat lamp if your climate is normally very cloudy, to provide adequate warmth and light for your pepper plant.
It’s also important to water your pepper plants correctly; soil should be moist but well-draining to avoid drowning the plants.
Particularly acidic soil could also contribute to a lack of growth and even kill the seeds, making them useless. If you suspect this is the case, add a soil mixture that balances out the pH balance to a more neutral level. You can check out our comprehensive post on the best type of soil for pepper plants for more tips.
Finally, it is possible that the seeds you bought or found are simply not good. This can happen if you bought them from an unreputable seller or the seeds have sat out for a long time. Know that this can happen even if the seeds sprout and may not be viable enough to grow more than some leaves.
Why is My Pepper Plant Turning Yellow?
Pepper plants most commonly turn yellow or disfigure in general due to a lack of hydration or nutrients in the soil. The simplest ways to fix this issue are by watering the pepper plants more while avoiding drowning them, or moving them to more nutrional soil.
Disfigured pepper plants are often accompanied by other problems, such as the aforementioned growth stunting or the drooping leaves. Keep an eye out for these as well to narrow down what could be causing the issue.
If you believe that the soil is the issue, look for a mixture that is pH neutral and specifically contains nutrients for plant growth. Loamy soil, a soil made up of sand, silt, and a little clay, is the best soil for pepper plants.
Usually, the yellow discloration happens on the leaves, so you can always pinch off the leaves in question, if it’s just one or two. However, if the discoloration has spread to other parts of the plant, you should work quickly to try and save it.
Why is My Pepper Plant Turning Black?
Pepper plants can develop black rings or spots for a variety of reasons, and not all of them are bad. Some breeds of pepper plants naturally have black stems, so as long as the rest of the plant does not have any issues, this is not something that you need to worry about.
If your pepper plant turns black and also begins wilting or having other issues, it may have contracted a blight disease. Briefly, blight cuts off parts of the pepper plant from receiving nutrients or water, quickly stopping growth and causing wilting and yellowing to occur. Most commonly, blight shows up as small rings around the stems of the pepper plant.
However, black rings around the stem are not always bad. Look specifically into what pepper you are growing and see if this is a common occurrence. If your plant seems to be growing fine, you might not need to worry about the black spots.
If the stem joints of your pepper plant are turning black, it could have contracted a fungal disease. This will ruin your plant, causing your peppers to be black and mushy as well. Prune away the diseased parts to avoid it spreading to other parts of the plant. For more information on what causes this fungal disease, check out this article.
Why are My Pepper Plant’s Leaves Wilting?
Wilting of pepper plants can happen for a variety of reasons, but it is normally easy to identify the cause.
If wilting of the leaves is accompanied by drooping, discoloration, or an intense heat wave, your pepper plant likely needs more water. Much like many other problems, the plant has stopped receiving the nutrients it needs, but luckily this can be fixed fairly easily. Only the most intense heat waves will normally have this effect on peppers since they naturally grow in incredibly hot climates and are usually resistant to heat.
If the rest of your plant is fine, the cause of wilting may be a fungal disease which is slowly killing the plant. To confirm that this in fact is the issue, first make sure to check the water levels of the plant to If the plant is getting enough water and is still wilting, you may have a fungal disease on your hands. Sadly, this is incurable. The plant that contracted the disease is already dead, but you can hopefully stop it from spreading to your other pepper plants.
Fungal diseases are found in soil, so you cannot use this soil for growing anymore. If you do, the new plants will also get a fungal disease and die. The best option is to dispose of the plant and soil carefully and begin anew. Another way fungal diseases are spread is through tiny insects which hop from plant to plant. To prevent this, keep plants and weeds trimmed and a good distance away from each other.
Why do My Pepper Plant’s Leaves have Holes?
Holes in pepper plant leaves are usually caused by bugs. These holes are generally not a cause for concern, as the insects might just be snacking on the leaves and not affecting the health of the plant as a whole.
However, some bugs and insects can be problematic for pepper plants, especially if they eat young seedlings. Some of the most common bugs for pepper plants are:
- Flea beetles
Most of these are harmless to pepper plants, especially after the plants have already grown. Using pesticides on pepper plants is not a great solution and can actually cause more harm than good: they might actually kill the bugs that are helping to protect your plant from pests that could kill your plant.
If you notice other problems developing alongside the holes in the leaves, then you should consider dealing with the pests more aggresively. They can often be harbingers of disease which can affect the health of your plant. First, identify the bug. Then, do some research to determine the best way to deal with them. Aphids, for example, can easily be washed away with water or driven away by ladybugs, a natural predator.
Why Is My Pepper Plant Losing Leaves?
Pepper plants can lose leaves for a variety of reasons, but most commonly, it is likely due to a fluctuation in temperature.
As temperatures drop below 80 degrees Farenheit, pepper plants often become stressed and lose their leaves. This happens more commonly when plants are kept out of the sun, so it is imperative to plant them in a place where they can get sunlight throughout the day. If you notice your plant losing a lot of leaves, move them to a more sun-filled area or even inside in a temperature controlled area.
Although temperature changes are the most common cause, there could be other reasons why your pepper plant’s leaves are falling. In some cases, your plant could be suffering from an infection that could be causing your plant’s leaves to yellow or wilt before falling off.
In rare cases, pests can be so rampant that they are sucking the nutrients from specific leaves, leaving them more open to infections. Keep an eye out for holes in leaves and try to identify the specific bug. After identification, they should be fairly easy to deal with.
Why Are My Pepper Plant’s Leaves Wrinkled?
Pepper plants are most commonly wrinkled because of a virus dubbed the “pepper mottled virus”. In addition to wrinkling and curling the leaves of pepper plants, it directly affects the peppers as well and causes mis-shapen and small peppers.
The virus causing wrinkled leaves can be spread by touch or by infected soil, tools, seeds, or, in rare cases, insects. When insects spread the disease, it is a slightly different virus with extremely similar results.
As with most viruses and infections for pepper plants, there is sadly no real cure. The best option is
pull the plant and all surrounding ones and dispose of them along with the soil. Wash your hands and tools thoroughly to prevent the disease from affecting the rest of your plants.
To prevent the disease from taking hold, rotate where you plant your pepper plants every year and keep them away from other plants to prevent insect hopping.
Why Is My Pepper Plant Dropping Buds?
Pepper plants can often drop buds when the plant is receiving an improper amount of water.
Unlike other water related issues on this list, pepper plants will drop buds from both over-watering and under-watering. At its core, the fluctuation in the amount of water provided to the plant can stress it out, causing it to drop buds before they have a chance to properly bloom.
To prevent this, water only the top few inches of the soil, at an amount roughly equal to 2 to 3 inches of water every week. Soil should be moist, but not water-logged.
Why is My Pepper Plant Dropping its Flowers?
Pepper plants may drop flowers if there are no pollinating insects around, or if there is a distinct lack of air circulation. This issue often occurs when pepper plants are grown indoors.
Pepper plants drop flowers when they are not being pollinated. Thankfully, pepper plants are somewhat self-sustaining and do not require insects; instead, they can self-pollinate and only need a small amount of activation to move pollen from one flower to another.
This is most often done by the wind, but if the plants are kept indoors or there is not enough air flow, you may need to help a bit. A small, soft paintbrush taken to flowers to spread pollen into the air should do the trick.
Why is My Pepper Plant Not Blooming?
Pepper plants can be fickle, but the most common causes for flowers not blooming are incorrect temperatures or blossom end rot.
Peppers require a warm, but not scorching, environment to bloom flowers and grow peppers. They thrive when they get at least six hours of sunlight and temperatures around 80 degrees Farenheit and should not veer more than about 10 degrees Farenheit away from that otherwise, their flowers might not blossom.
Blossom end rot is another fairly common cause of pepper plants not blooming and is usually caused by calcium deficiency. As the name implies, it causes the ends of peppers to rot and ruins the pepper. A simple solution is to add calcium to the soil, however, sometimes the problem is not that there is enough calcium in the soil, but rather the plant is not taking enough calcium out of the soil at a fast enough rate to keep up with its growth. If it is the latter that is causing the rot, then unfortunately, there is no real cure for it. However, by ensuring your plant has adequate sunlight, water, and nutrients, you should be able to protect your plant from this problem.
Why is My Pepper Plant Not Producing Peppers?
Pepper plants may not produce peppers for many of the same reasons why they may not bloom—incorrect temperatures or blossom end rot are the two largest contenders. However, another possibility is that the plant has not been properly pollinated.
For peppers to grow from the flowers of the pepper plant, they must be pollinated. Normally, pepper plants pollinate themselves, but plants kept indoors may need a bit of extra help. To nudge this process along, try gently rubbing the stalks of the flowers, or using a soft, small paintbrush, to release the pollen onto other flowers.
This is most commonly needed for peppers grown indoors, but can also be an issue outside if you have not had enough wind.
Why are Pests Attacking my Pepper Plant?
Pests attack pepper plants for food and nutrition. Most often, they are not dangerous, but they can bring disease or, if there are enough of them, they can sap the pepper plant of its nutrients and stunt growth.
Most pests and insects can be dealt with easily by keeping the area around plants free of debris, weeds, and other plants. This will provide bugs fewer ways to actually reach your pepper plants. Additionally, most pests can be washed away with a gentle, soapy water mix, solving the problem.
Avoid using pesticides on your pepper plants for as long as is possible. Most pests have natural predators that will show up and deal with the problem for you and pesticides will only drive these good pests away and could even worsen the situation.
Why Is My Pepper Plant Dying?
Sadly, pepper plants can die for a number of reasons. We’ve addressed some of the main issues throughout this article, so hopefully it can help you identify and then rectify the problem.
Some of the most common reasons a pepper plant may be dying are:
- A lack of water and/or sun
- Incorrect temperatures
- Fungal or bacterial infections
- Acidic soil
Common signs of a pepper plant dying are wilting leaves, black spots or rings, or the yellowing of the plant.
Pepper plants are great additions to any home garden, and are fairly easy to grow and take care of. That being said, there are a few common problems some pepper plant growers face, but with the right care and attention, you could be reaping pepper plants for years to come!
Here are Some of my Favorite Gardening Products and Tools
Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found it helpful for growing some new plants in your home or garden. Here are some products I like that I hope you’ll also find helpful. These are affiliate links, and I am compensated for referring traffic. But in all honesty, these are the exact product that I use or recommend to everyone.
Soil: For high-quality soil, I really like Fox Farm Ocean Forest. I do all my growing in containers and this soil has worked great for me. I like how they use nutrient-rich contents like earthworm castings, bat guano, and composted crab and fish.
Fertilizer: Currently I am using a seaweed-based organic fertilizer call Neptunes Harvest. This is a great milder fertilizer option if you want to use something organic. If you want a more powerful fertilizer, I recommend Fox Farm Liquid Nutrient Trio, lots of people have had great growing success with this product.
Pruning Shears: Pruning shears are one of the most useful gardening tools to have because it’s important to prune your plants to keep them healthy. The pruning shears I recommend are the Gonicc 8’’ pruning shears. I like them because they are built sturdy and work both on bigger and smaller plants, so you don’t need to have multiple pruning shears.
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