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Root Rot in Peppers

pepper image by Kirill Bodrov from

Pepper plant diseases like root rot can often be prevented and treated using proper care and watering. Root rot, also called damping off, is a common problem that affects many different types of plants. When properly cared for, pepper plants are not generally high risk plants for root rot diseases, but in the right conditions for root rot, even strong pepper plants can become affected.


Root rot is a plant-killing disease that causes a plant to yellow, wilt, produce small fruits and eventually die off completely. Fungal organisms that cause the root rot common to pepper plants include phytophthora, verticulum and fusarium root rots. Root rot is a sneaky disease that does not always show symptoms on the pepper plant until it is too late.


Root rot invasions usually enter at the small roots, called feeders. A root rot problem in a pepper plant will often carry no symptoms until the plant is seriously infected. Other times, the disease that attacks the plant can also attack the stems, leaves or fruit of a pepper plant, leaving brown rotten spots that separate easily from the rest of the nearby plant.


Wetness in the soil helps root rot spread. Conditions in the pepper plant's soil environment which can invite root rot include poor soil drainage, contaminated soil, dirty planting containers and tools, or overwatering. Indoor pepper plants in pots are at a higher risk of root rot disease because of poor air flow or poor drainage in the planting container.


Root rot is best treated using preventive methods. If a planting area has recently become bogged down with water, check the plant roots for damage. Remove rotten roots and repot the plant in new, sterile well-drained soil if the roots have turned brown and mushy. If you catch root rot before the pepper plant begins to wilt, you may also be able to save the plant by increasing nearby drainage or avoiding overwatering. Once a pepper plant has begun to show above-ground effects of root rot, it is unlikely that the plant can be saved.


To avoid infecting other plants with root rot, remove infected plants from the planting area immediately and dispose of them. Do not place root rot infected pepper plants in compost piles or any other disposal area that has a potential to infect other plants.

Soil can be sterilized by baking it in the oven until the core has reached a temperature of 180 degrees for 20 minutes. Remember to allow the soil to cool all the way back to room temperature before planting, or the heat may kill the plant.

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