Pepper plants have growing requirements similar to tomatoes. They thrive in warm, moist conditions. Thick-walled bell peppers need lots of water and fertile soil. Chile peppers have thinner membranes and require less water, making them a good choice for dry climates. Peppers are difficult to grow in northern climates and may show signs of stress or nutrient deficiencies, including yellowed leaves.
Healthy pepper plants have glossy, dark green leaves and stems, with white flowers appearing midsummer. Green peppers follow, developing slowly from the pollinated blooms. Stressed plants exhibit many symptoms that they are not getting what they need.
Symptoms of stress in pepper plants include yellowed and dropping leaves, dropped flowers and stunted growth. Plants may also wither or stop producing fruit.
Peppers are semi-tropical plants that love warm, moist conditions. Planted too early in the spring, they may suffer shock from cold soil and air temperatures and never fully recover. Peppers need at least eight hours of sunlight daily. In shade, they will have yellowed leaves, leggy stems and produce few fruits. Under-watering or over-watering peppers can cause yellowed leaves. Disease usually causes other symptoms, such as holes or blemishes on the leaves, but may also cause yellowed leaves.
Peppers should be planted after the last frost in the spring when temperatures are consistently above 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Mulches and row covers are useful for maintaining moisture and keeping the soil warm. Peppers should be planted in a sunny location, close to a water source. Peppers need consistent, even moisture levels--not too dry, not too wet. Rotating crops and watering plants early in the morning help prevent the spread of disease.
Peppers are one of the most challenging garden vegetables to grow, particularly in northern climates. Disease-resistant, fast maturing varieties are most likely to stay healthy and thrive.