Why Are Your Pepper Leaves Curling – Causes & Cures


Growing peppers is a truly rewarding experience. Pepper plants are fairly easy to grow and don’t need much care, provided they’re given enough attention. But if your pepper plant is unhealthy, you’ll probably notice it through the leaves, which might yellow, wilt, or curl if they are not healthy.

Your pepper plant leaves could be curling because of several reasons, including calcium deficiency, overwatering, plant edema, too much light, entangled roots, poor pollination, or insect infestation.

Why Are Your Pepper Leaves Curling?

Pepper plants will start to curl their leaves when exposed to environmental stress or if infected. On most occasions, the issues can be addressed if the grower takes immediate action. If you notice your pepper leaves curling, take it as a distress call from your plant.

The nature of the curls should let you know the extent of the problem. Extremely curled leaves are often an indication that you need to act fast or else your pepper plant will become severely damaged or even die.

When you notice your pepper plant leaves curling up, the first thing you should do is inspect the entire plant. Check whether other leaves are affected, keeping an eye for discolored leaves, round spots, and other irregularities. Examining the entire pepper plant will allow you to determine the possible cause.

Photo by Viktor Kovtun

What Causes the Pepper Leaf to Curl?

Calcium Deficiency

Although a secondary nutrient, calcium is still an important nutrient that your pepper plants need for proper cell wall formation. Calcium deficiency will often lead to curled leaves, which indicates improper plant development.

If your pepper plant is suffering from calcium deficiency, it will most likely form brown spots on the curled leaves. If the problem isn’t immediately rectified, the entire leaves might change color to yellow and curl.

To treat issues like calcium deficiency, you’ll need to buy calcium supplements, all-purpose fertilizers, or add powdered eggshells. Always ensure you give the supplements in the right amounts to avoid applying excess fertilizer. You should also check on the ingredients when buying all-purpose fertilizers to ensure calcium is present.

Overwatering

Pepper plants thrive in loamy, well-drained soil. This means that overwatering your plant might stress the plant and even damage the roots. The leaves will start to curl due to the root’s inability to absorb nutrients and oxygen.

Overwatering can also make the leaves turn from green to yellow. As a result, you should always water your pepper plant when the soil starts to dry up. Use the finger test and try touching the soil to check if it’s moist or dry. If moist, allow the plant two to three more days to use up the water (depending on the environment), and only water your pepper plant if the soil feels dry.

If you suspect that your pepper plant’s leaves are curling due to overwatering, you should take the plant outside for a bit of sun. The heat will increase water consumption, thus reducing overall water concentration in the soil. On extra hot days, the leaves may curl as a sign of dehydration. In such cases, you should water the plant to replace the lost water.

Plant Edema

Plant edema commonly affects pepper plants’ cells due to irregular water retention, which often results in swelling. In peppers, plant edema often manifests as a crystallized whitish substance beneath the leaves as well as curling leaves.

While this condition can go away on its own when environmental conditions are improved, it can lead to excessive swelling if not treated early enough.

Jalape_o_Pepper_Lines (4)
Jalape_o_Pepper_Lines (4)

If you determine that your plant is suffering from edema, there are some ways to manage the issue:

  • Choose a more loamy, well-draining soil
  • Space out your plants, to allow for more light penetration
  • Cut back on fertilizing
  • Make sure you are not over-watering your pepper plants
  • Make sure the humidity levels are not too high by improving air circulation

Exposure to Too Much Artificial Light

Although peppers love full sunlight, it’s important to check on the quality of lights, more so during winter and when using grow lights. If peppers don’t receive the minimum required full-spectrum light, chances are, the leaves will gradually start to curl.

To prevent this issue, it’s best to check on the lighting settings of your grow light. If your pepper plant leaves are curling due to excess exposure to light, try changing the grow light settings or moving the plant further away from the light.

Insect Infestation

It’s normal for plants to be affected by insects every once in a while. Your reaction, however, will determine whether your plant survives. Pests like thrips, aphids, spider mites, greenhouse whiteflies, and broad mites are notorious for attacking pepper plants.

You’ll know your pepper plant is affected by pests if only a handful of leaves curl upwards. The unaffected leaves will remain normal and appear healthy, while the affected ones will curl upwards.

If you inspect your pepper plant’s leaves and conclude your plant is pest-infested, you’ll need to act fast. Treat the pests with neem oil or insecticidal soap. You should proceed with the treatment until you’re positive that the pests have been cleared. Check out this post for a more comprehensive look at organic ways to reduce pest infestations in your pepper plants.

Should You Remove Curled Leaves from Pepper Plants?

Before deciding to remove curled leaves from your pepper plant, it’s best to give it a thorough examination to determine the cause of the problem. You should remove pest-affected curled leaves as they can infect the entire plant.

If you’re not dealing with pest attacks, however, there’s no need to remove the curled leaves. Curled pepper leaves usually point out underlying stress or discomfort. The good thing is that most of these issues are usually minor and can be easily addressed. Therefore, don’t be in too much of a hurry to pluck out your curled leaves as your pepper plant still needs them.

How to Prevent Your Pepper Plant Leaves from Curling?

Here are the steps you can do to prevent your pepper plant leaves from curling.

  1. Check on your watering patterns. Pepper plants don’t love either too much or too little water. To prevent your plant from curling its leaves, you’ll need to check on your watering routines. Ensure the pepper plant is regularly watered and in the right amounts.
  2. Introduce ladybugs and other organic pest feeders. Before bringing the big guns and using insecticides, it’s best to try keeping pests at bay through biological pest control. Consider introducing ladybugs in your greenhouse or garden, as they’re well known to feed on pests, or these other organic pest control methods.
  3. Inspect your plant regularly. Inspecting your pepper plant regularly is the best way to prevent the escalation of underlying issues. Try your best to check your plant every other day, as doing so might help detect issues like pest infestation early on.
  4. Check on nutrients. Pepper plants love their food. Although they aren’t heavy absorbers, pepper plants need the right amount of calcium for proper development. To ensure your plant receives the required nutrients, applying fertilizer that is calcium-rich is highly recommended. However, be careful to apply the fertilizer in the recommended portions.

Closing Thoughts

Pepper leaves tend to curl for a number of reasons. While some reasons might be serious, others are usually attributed to environmental stress, such as dehydration.

It is best to inspect your pepper plant regularly to determine potential problems early on, so that you can correct the issue before too much damage sets in. Try as much as possible to refrain from cutting the leaves, especially when dealing with minor issues.

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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