5 Reasons Why Your Pepper Plant’s Leaves Turn Yellow


Peppers are versatile plants that take between 60-90 days to grow. However, some gardeners are left scratching their heads when their pepper plant’s leaves turn yellow despite giving the plants considerable care and attention. Discoloration in the leaves is one of the most common problems when growing peppers, and there are several reasons for it.

Your pepper plant’s leaves could be turning yellow due to temperature fluctuations, over or underwatering, a lack of nutrients, or fertilizer issues. Plant diseases can also cause yellow leaves, and though you can often treat the problem, early detection is vital if you want to save your plant.

Read on as we discuss the factors contributing to your pepper plant’s leaves turning yellow and what can be done to treat or prevent the discoloration.

Photo of a plant growing in a canvas bag set on top of the grass
Photo by Lovelyday12

Temperature Issues

When pepper plant leaves turn yellow, temperature issues are often the culprit. Pepper plants thrive in sunny, well-drained places and generally do not do well in cold weather. In most cases, they will die if exposed to frost.

Pepper plants come from the Solanaceae family, also known as nightshades. Plants of this family need sunlight, and they do best in hot climates.

In cold weather, your pepper plant will become stressed out. When the temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius), your pepper plant will go into a state of hibernation, causing its leaves to become yellow and fall off. More leaves will fall from your pepper plant if the temperature drops to 40°F (4.44°C), and anything below 32°F (0°C) will likely kill the plant.

Water Issues

Another common cause of yellowing leaves on a pepper plant is over or underwatering. Overwatering will lead to moisture oversaturation and the roots drowning. You also don’t want to give your pepper too little water because that can also cause significant stress to your plant.

You can often tell if your plant is lacking water by how it looks. If your plant’s leaves are wilted it is likely because it is not getting enough water. Upon noticing this, quickly water your plant and water it more often, especially when the weather is very hot.

Pepper plants thrive when the soil is moist but not when it’s soaking wet. You want to make sure that your plants get proper drainage; otherwise, water will be stuck in the root system, leading to rot, which will eventually kill your plants.

When water is over soaking the pepper plants’ root system, your plants cannot get enough oxygen. The lack of oxygen will cause your plants to turn yellow. The yellowing plants indicate unhealthy plants, which will produce lower yields or even die.

Soil Issues

Pepper plants do well in loamy soil—a mixture of sand, silt, and clay—that keeps the ground warm and moist. The soil shouldn’t be too dry or soaked, and it should ideally have a pH level of between 6.0 and 6.8 for the plant to thrive.

Nutrient Issues

If your plant’s leaves are yellow and you have checked on the temperature, water and soil, you may want to check if your plant is getting enough nitrogen, which is essential for helping plants grow big, strong, and healthy. You can tell if pepper plant lacks nitrogen when the leaves turn yellow, starting from the plant’s bottom moving upwards.

Since nitrogen moves around different parts of the plant, it will move to the part that requires nutrients. A sick plant will need these nutrients in the roots and stem area first. When the nitrogen is distributed to these areas, you will notice that your plant’s older leaves will become yellow and eventually fall off.

Jalape_o_Pepper_Lines (4)
Jalape_o_Pepper_Lines (4)

While it’s essential to give your pepper plant enough nutrients, it’s also crucial not to feed it with too much nitrogen. Too much nitrogen can lead to “nitrogen burn” which leads to yellow and brown leaves.

Pro tip: Pepper plants do best with a 5-10-10, which contain an equal amount of potassium and phosphorus and half as much nitrogen.

damaged yellow and brown leaved pepper plant with pepper pods
Photo by Viktor Kovtun

Bacteria and Diseases

Your pepper plant is vulnerable to diseases, such as bacterial leaf spots or Phytophthora blight. These bacteria and diseases can turn your pepper plants leaves yellow.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to fix a diseased pepper plant. The best thing to do is to get rid of the diseased plant as soon as possible to avoid anything from spreading to other plants nearby. Avoid planting another nightshade at the same location for an entire year to ensure the disease doesn’t spread.

Bacterial infections usually happen when the weather is warm and wet for a long time. Your plant can get diseases from the bacteria found in soil and from pests that come into contact with the outer surface. This will typically present as yellow outlines on the leaves.

Pepper plants that get infected with Phytophthora blight usually die quickly. However, older pepper plants can generally continue to grow, but they will display a dark brown lesion. The lesion will cause the plant’s stem to wilt and die once it spreads. If it spreads to the leaves, you will see dark, circular lesions on the tissue, which then cause the leaves to become tan in color.

How to Fix Your Pepper Plant’s Leaves if They Have Turned Yellow

If your pepper plant’s leaves have turned yellow, be concerned, but do not panic. Though you cannot make yellow leaves green again, you can remove them and work to prevent the problem from happening again.

As soon as you notice that your pepper plant has started to yellow, ensure that they are getting adequate sunlight and the right amount of water. Check your pepper plants every day to make sure the soil isn’t too dry. To check the water levels, insert your finger in the topsoil, going down a couple of inches. The soil should be moist but not soaking wet.

For plants that you believe are lacking nutrients, especially if they are potted, apply fertilizer, such as the Fox Farm Trio Fertilizer. Use it to fertilize your peppers once or twice a week (per the product’s instructions) to keep your pepper plant healthy. Get a 5-10-10 (nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium) fertilizer to give your plant the nutrients it needs.

Ensure your soil has a balanced pH level, meaning it should not be too acidic or too alkaline. Otherwise, your plant won’t be able to absorb the soil’s nutrients. You can use a special kit to check your soil’s pH and determine what you need to do to give your plant the proper nutrients and pH levels. These kits are available in most garden centers or online.

Finally, look out for any bacterial or other diseases. If you do determine your plant’s leaves are yellow because of a disease, immediately remove the plant so that the disease does not spread to other plants.

Closing Thoughts

It is not uncommon to see pepper plant leaves turning yellow, but the key to avoiding the loss of the whole plant is to act quickly. Maybe your pepper plant is getting more water than it needs? Or perhaps your plant lacks essential nutrients that it is not getting from the soil?

Remember that temperature also plays an essential role in the success of your pepper plant’s growth and that they will need to be brought in to avoid winter frosts. Check on your plants daily to observe their health and alleviate any issues as soon as possible.

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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Supriya

Hi! I'm Supriya. I'm a home cook, bulldog mom, spicy food lover, and founder of The Spicy Trio. I have been a home cook for about 15 years and have been growing plants for the past six years.

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