Pepper plants are an ideal addition to any garden or landscape, as they grow tall with attractive leaves, white flowers and fresh aromas of bell peppers, spicy peppers or other varieties. Although they are not too difficult to grow, there is a range of problems with pepper plants to watch out for or you will never get to enjoy home-grown peppers in your cooking. These range from disease to insect problems.
Pepper plants with insect problems will usually have wilted, yellowing, dropping or spotted leaves. There are several insects that like to hang around pepper plants. Cutworms are the most damaging bugs. Aphids are the most common bugs on pepper plants, clustering underneath the leaves and leaving a slimy residue. Other insects that infest pepper plants include fruitworms and corn borers that get inside pepper pods. Hornworms, flea beetles and whiteflies eat through the leaves of the plant and spread possible viruses. Insects can usually be washed off with soapy water or picked off by hand.
Disease and bacteria can be spread by insects. One of the most common diseases is bacterial leaf spot, which causes leaves to yellow or develop brown and orange spots before dropping. Fungus diseases are also common. You will recognize these by discoloration of the stem and leaves, poor growth, spots and dropping. One of the most common fungal pepper plant diseases is southern blight, especially in warm climates. If plants have this, the stem rots and the whole plant wilts, leading to death. Also in warm climates, ripe and blossom rot, as well as molding, can be common. When pepper plants are affected by mold or mildew, they exhibit white, powdery growth on the undersides of leaves. With ripe rot, the stem and roots begin to rot, killing the pepper plant. With blossom rot, the blossoms and leaves begin to rot first. Most pepper plant diseases can be prevented by choosing and planting disease-resistant varieties.
Overwatering and Sunscald
Overwatering can cause pepper plant leaves to yellow and drop. Gardeners can kill their plants with kindness during hot, dry weather by watering too much, too frequently. Pepper plants should really only be watered about twice a week, depending on your climate. Sunscald is the opposite problem, where the pepper plant leaves are exposed to too much direct sunlight. You can recognize this problem when the leaves turn light colored and feel dry and papery.