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Pepper Growing Problems: Troubleshooting

Peppers growing problems can be avoided.
Pepper growing problems can often be avoided by making sure pepper plants are not stressed.

Peppers–sweet peppers and hot peppers–share nearly all of the cultural and growing requirements of tomatoes.

If you can grow tomatoes, you can grow peppers.

Choose a site with full sun where the soil is moisture retentive but well-draining. If you are planting sweet peppers and hot peppers in the garden, give them some distance they can cross pollinate.

Best tips on How to Grow Peppers.

Here is a troubleshooting list of possible pepper problems with control and cure suggestions. (Pepper growing success tips are at the bottom of this post.)

Common Pepper Growing Problems:

Seedlings are cut off near the soil surface. Cutworms are gray or brown grubs that hide in the soil by day and feed at night. Handpick grubs from the soil around plants. Keep the garden free of plant debris. Place a 3-inch cardboard collar around the seedlings stem and push it 1 inch into the soil.

Leaves roll downward but there is no yellowing or stunting. Physiological leaf roll, not caused by pathogen; it may be a reaction to temperature or weather. Keep plants evenly watered. No action needed.

Leaves curl then become deformed and discolored; plants may be stunted. Aphids are small soft-bodied insects–green and gray–that cluster on undersides of leaves. Aphids leave behind a sticky excrement called honeydew; black sooty mold may grow on honeydew. Spray away aphids with a blast of water; use insecticidal soap; aluminum mulch will disorient aphids. Aphid predators include lacewing flies, ladybugs, and praying mantis.

Leaves wilt, turn yellow, then brown. Whiteflies are tiny insects that will lift up in a cloud when an infected plant is disturbed. These insects suck juices from plants and weaken them. Spray with insecticidal soap. Trap whiteflies with Tanglefoot spread on a bright yellow card.

Leaves appear wilted and scorched. Leafhoppers are green, brown, or yellow insects ⅓-inch long with wedge-shaped wings. Leafhoppers suck juices from leaves and stems. Spray with insecticidal soap or dust with diatomaceous earth.

Tiny round, shot holes in leaves; lower leaves are affected more than top ones. Flea beetles are tiny black beetles that feed on leaves and jump when disturbed. Handpick beetles and destroy. Keep the garden free of plant debris. Cultivate the soil deeply to destroy larvae in early spring and interrupt the life cycle.

Leaves are eaten and plants are partially defoliated. Blister beetles and tomato hornworms eat leaves. Handpick insects and destroy. Keep the garden weeds and debris. Cultivate in spring to kill larvae and interrupt the life cycle. Pick off beetles by hand. Spray or dust with Sevin or use a pyrethrum or rotenone spray.

Leaves and shoots are stripped. Colorado potato beetle is a yellow beetle ⅓ inch long with black stripes and an orange head. Handpick off beetles. Keep the garden free of debris. Spray with a mixture of basil leaves and water.

White, frothy foam on stems. Spittle bugs are green insects that can be found beneath the foam. Handpick and destroy. They do not cause significant damage and can be tolerated.

Green insects. Tolerate. Not a cause of significant damage.

Nearly black spots appear on leaves and lower stem; leaves turn yellow to brown. Early blight is a fungal disease spread by heavy rainfall and warm temperatures. Keep weeds down in the garden area; they harbor fungal spores. Avoid overhead watering.

Lower leaves yellow and die; stem is discolored with brown streaks when the stem is split lengthwise; plants wilt and die. Verticillium wilt is caused by a soilborne fungus. Plant verticillium resistant varieties. Rotate crops and avoid planting in soil previously planted with pepper, potato, tomato, or cucumber family members.

Small yellow-green raised spots on leaves turn brown and become water soaked; leaves may fall. Bacterial leaf or fungal leaf spot cannot be cured. Plant treated seed. Prune away infected leaves. Keep garden and tools clean. Plant resistant varieties.

Leaves show dark-colored dieback from growing tip. Spotted wilt virus is spread by thrips. Control weeds that are host to thrips. Pinch away infected leaves or destroy infected plants.

Leaves are mottled and streaked yellow and green; leaves curl and crinkle. Mosaic virus has no cure. It is spread by beetles. Plant tobacco mosaic virus-resistant varieties. Destroy infected plants and keep weeds down that host cucumber beetles. Wash your hands if you are a smoker.

Galls or knots on plant roots; plants wilt in dry weather; plants become stunted. Root knot nematodes are nearly microscopic, translucent worms that inject toxins and bacteria into plant roots. Plant resistant varieties. Feed plants with fish emulsion which seems to counter nematode toxins. Rotate crops. Companion plant with marigolds.

Plants do not grow; blossoms drop off; fruit does not develop. Temperatures are too cold. Plant when the weather is warmer. Plant varieties recommended for your region.

Plants have lush foliage do not fruit or have little fruit. The soil may be nitrogen rich and lack phosphorus. Add aged compost to the planting bed before planting and side dress plants with aged compost. If night temperatures are cool place a wire cage around peppers and drape the cage with plastic at night. Increase pollination and fruit production by lightly tapping plants to make sure pollen is distributed.

Blossoms fall without producing fruit. Pepper blossoms may fall if the temperature drops much below 60°F or rises above 75°F. Plant early varieties or varieties recommended for your region. Plant in warmer weather.

Plant produces few blossoms and few fruits. Peppers that bloom while still young and also set fruit can become stunted and remain stunted all their life. Pick off flowers that develop when plants are still small. Don’t purchase seedlings that have started to bloom.

Buds and blossoms have holes; young fruits may have holes or drop; mature fruit can become misshapen and blotchy. Pepper weevils are dark beetles ⅛ inch long; the larvae are white, legless and found inside fruit. Handpick weevils and grubs. Nightshade plants host the pepper weevil; destroy infested plants after harvest. Cultivate the soil to interrupt the pest’s life cycle.

Fruit is normal-colored but small and flattened; there are few or no seed inside. Pollination was poor or incomplete. Plant when the weather has warmed and insects are active. Attract bees and other pollinators to the garden. Increase pollination and fruit production by lightly tapping plants to make sure pollen is distributed.

Sunken, water-soaked spots develop on blossom end of fruit; spots can turn black and mold may appear; patches may appear leathery. Blossom end rot is caused by irregular watering or the irregular uptake of water by plants; this can happen when temperatures rise above 90°F. Keep soil evenly moist; mulch around plants. The soil may have a calcium imbalance that inhibits the uptake of water; add limestone to the soil if the pH is below 6.0.

Sunken water-soaked areas on fruit and stems; fruit may become watery and collapse. Anthracnose is a fungus disease that over-winters in infected seed and the soil. Destroy rotting fruit; keep fruit off soil. Spray or dust with a fixed copper- or sulfur-based fungicide every 7 days. Do not collect infected seed.

Fruit has worms or worm holes. Corn earworm is a white, green, or red caterpillar with spines to about 1½ inches long. Tomato hornworm is a green caterpillar 3 to 5 inches long with white stripes. These pests will eat holes in leaves and fruit. Handpick and destroy. Spray with Bacillus thuringiensis. Spray with pyrethrum or rotenone.

Fruit has light-colored areas that are soft become sunken and dry. Sunscald can affect peppers exposed to too hot sun. Prune plants so that blossoms and fruits have a leaf canopy above. Control leaf spot that causes leaves to drop. Use shade-cloth or a lath screen to shade peppers during intense hot spells.

White spots on fruit; leaf tips are distorted. Thrips are tiny insects, yellow, brown or black with fringed wings. They scrape plant tissue as they feed leaving a scar. Keep garden free of weeds. Spray with insecticidal soap or sprinkle diatomaceous earth on leaves.

Growing Peppers Success Tips:

Planting. Pepper require full sun for the best harvest. Plant peppers in well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Use 6 inch raised beds if your soil is poor and does not drain well. Add aged compost and bonemeal to each planting hole.

Planting time. Peppers require a planting soil temperature of 65°F or greater. Get a jump on the growing season by starting peppers indoors 8 to 10 weeks before transplanting them into the garden.

Care. Consistent, even moisture is important for pepper growth. Only when peppers are near harvest as they finish ripening should you cut back on watering. Peppers are heavy feeders. Add alfalfa, cottonseed, or fish meal to planting beds before planting. Side dress peppers with aged compost or bloodmeal (about 2 tablespoons per plant) when fruits start to form. Keep peppers well supported once fruit sets–use a small tomato cage or stakes. Keep peppers upright so that leaves protect fruits below from sunscald.

Harvest. Sweet bell peppers can be harvested when the start to turn color; they can finish ripening indoors on the kitchen counter. Hot peppers can be picked as you need them. Pick all peppers before the first frost.

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270 Comments

  1. I’m having problem with my sweet pepper(cachucha pepper). A lot of the fruit collapse young and wilt. I open some of then and found something black like residuos of a worm or a fungous. I couldnt find any hole. I dont know what to do.

  2. Pepper fruit collapse can be caused by extreme temperatures–less than 60F or more than 85F. However, the black residue–which may be frass or excrement–may mean a pepper weevil or pepper maggot is at work. The pepper weevil is shiny brown or black in color, about 1/8 inch long with a long snout. The weevil feeds at night and hides during the day. Control weevils with pyrethrum spray–spray twice 4 days apart. The pepper maggot is white with a pale head about 1/4 inch long. (The adult is a small yellow-and-brown fly.) Control maggots with a pyrethrin/rotenone mix at fruit set. If there is no evidence of maggots or weevils at work, the plant may have a virus. If a virus is present, it is best to destroy and remove infected plants from the garden. Viruses can be spread by aphids as they feed.

      • Avoid adding nitrogen to the soil. Use a 0-5-5 fertilizer; the phosphorus and potassium should give the plants energy to produce flowers and fruit.

    • Hi there, I’m from South Africa. Spring has just sprung and we had quite a few amild winter. We planted some bell pepper plants and they grew well but then they started flowerering even though the plants weren’t vertly big at all. We picked the flower off and it took ages for the next flower to start blooming. The plants haven’t grown much in terms of height though. Now they’ve got lots of flowers and one seems to be producing a pepper but the stems are black at the joints and it looks like the little pepper might detach although it is nowhere near ready. They’re planted in a box with cabbages and baby spinach. All the other plants are doing well. They get full sun and consistent watering as well as fertilizer. I’m a novice at gardening please help.

      • The stems of pepper plants can be dark colored. However, if the leaves beyond a black stem joint begin to wilt that is commonly a sign of fusarium wilt, a fungal disease. You can spray the plant with an organic fungicide, but fusarium often spreads quickly and can consume the plant. If there is not wilt beyond the black joint, then it may be a simple discoloration. Feed the plant every 10 days with a dilute solution of fish emulsion. Be careful not to overwater plants in the containers; this can leave the plants and soil susceptible to fungal diseases.

    • I am new here. I planted a giant jalapeño and the first year it had large fruit and got 6 feet tall. later in the season the 6″ fruit turned into small pepper that were almost round???? We have warm summers in Ventura CA and pthis second year the plant has many pepper but all small and round?? I have been growing peppers for yrs and not sure what to make of this? Thanks for any response

      Rob

      • If a plant bears two or more crops in one season, it is not unusual that the second crop would be smaller than the first; a plant can sustain only so much energy for fruit production each season. Support the plant’s fruiting efforts by giving it a fertilizer higher in phosphorus and potassium than nitrogen.

  3. Hello from Maine. I have been trying to grow peppers for three years with the same problem. My plants never grow big enough to hold peppers on the plants. One year they did ok. I noticed they were in soil near alot of pine trees; do they need an acid type soil to grow. This year’s crop has been in the ground since end of May; plants are 5 or 6 inches with fruit starting. I’m stumped any help would be appreciated thank you. p.s. We get them from local greenhouse.

    • I am a first time grower but I have a few thousand plants but they are maturing at different stages small plants have alot of fruits big plants not so much and vice versa how do I put the plants all on the same page to make harvest easier and what’s the cheapest way to boost flowers and yield

      • If all of your peppers are the same variety and all have the same number of days to maturity then the variation in maturation may be due to one or more variables. Those variables could include: (1) nutrients in the soil–which can vary from spot to spot, or (2) uneven delivery of moisture to the roots, or (3) sunlight across the growing beds or field; there are many variables. You will want to bring all of the variables into alignment to get even maturation. For the current season, you may want to sidedress slower maturing plants with an organic fertilizer higher in phosphorus and potassium than nitrogen–5-10-10. Given the number of plants you are growing this may take some time. Next season cultivate the soil to 12-18 inches deep, add plenty of aged compost and manure, and add the organic fertilizer to each planting hole. Place drip irrigation at the base of each plant. One more thing, if you are growing more than one variety of pepper then you will want to stagger your planting dates so that all of the varieties come to harvest at the same time.

      • Place a tomato cage around the plants and wrap the sides of the cage with white row cover or clear plastic. Perhaps the reflected light and added warmth will spark growth.

  4. Here are a few pepper growing tips:
    1. Cold temperatures will slow the growth and fruiting of peppers; the optimal growing temps are 75F to 80F daytime and 60F at night. Temperatures higher than 90F will cause blossoms to drop.
    2. Peppers want well-drained soil rich in organic matter; add compost to your growing beds regularly; at least one inch of aged compost twice a year; compost is rich in all nutrients. Avoid fertilizers with too much nitrogen; this can keep plants from setting fruit.
    3. Keep your pepper growing beds evenly moist; peppers need steady moisture to develop fruits. But don’t overwater! As peppers begin to ripen, you can cut back on water.
    4.Temperatures too high or too low, water-stress, too much nitrogen–all of these can keep peppers from fruiting.
    5. If all of the above is good and you still don’t get fruit, check your plants carefully for the tarnished plant bugs–you may need a hand lens to see them. These bugs feeding can cause growing tips of plants to die; spray plants with an insecticidal soap.

    • It reached over 90F a few weeks ago and it caused all my jalapeno blossoms to drop. Additionally, the fruit that was growing has stopped. Since then it has not gotten that hot but my plant has not produced anymore more blossoms. Will my jalapeno plant start growing again once conditions are more optimal? Is there anyway I can remedy this?

      • The plant will begin blooming again and produce fruit when temperatures moderate; that is to be expected of pepper plants. Keep the plant alive in the meantime, water regularly and shield the plant from sunburn.

      • I am growing jalapeños in containers and a fair number of the jalapenos are bumpy, the bumps have a dark color however the bumps are not black. It’s taking some time to get the watering right. My question is, are the bumps caused by the watering and are they safe to eat. Thank you in advance.

        Brett from Utah

        • Your description sounds like a fungal disease called scab; raised spot can become corky and later they may ooze. Spray the plants with a fungicide. Don’t eat infected fruits; remove them and allow new fruit to form after the plant has been treated with a fungicide.

    • Pepper tip burn could be from too much sun exposure; check to make sure the fruit is shaded by the leaves above. Make sure the soil stays evenly moist, not drying out during the fruiting time. Deformed peppers are often a sign of poor pollination–low light or low temperatures weeks ago at flowering time. Pick the deformed fruit which will encourage the plant to flower and fruit again. When the plant flowers, give it a tap or two in the warm part of the day to improve pollination.

  5. My green peppers won’t start. This is the second year that I’ve failed at getting them started.

    I am using Jiffy pots, indoors right now. I understand it’s a typical 7-14 days for germination… nothing came up. I waited another 7 days past this (21 days), and then curiosity got to me and we opened up the peat pod. The seed was just sitting in the soil.

    Please help!

    All my tomatoes have started beautifully, so I simply cannot understand why our green peppers are having issues – for our second year in a row!!

    • To germinate pepper seeds try this: to break seed dormancy, soak the seeds for 3 or 4 hours in room-temperature water before sowing; sow seed in very warm soil–keep the daytime temperature at 85F and night temperatures not less than 65F. Cover the seed tray with plastic wrap to retain moisture until seeds sprout. An alternative would be to soak the seeds, then place the seeds on a moist paper towel and place the seeds and towel in a clear plastic bag, then place the bag in a very warm place–as described above; check inside the towel frequently; when the seeds sprout place them in a seed starting mix in a peat pot and place the seedlings beneath bright lights.

      • Harvest time for Eureka lemons will vary by climate. Where there is little frost, the Eureka lemon can be ever-bearing–that is year-round, with the main harvest in late winter to early spring. In warm inland regions, harvest is from October to December and again May through June; in near desert regions harvest can be September through October and March through May. Ask a local citrus and fruit seller when locally grown Eureka lemons are most plentiful in the market.

  6. I started pepper plants inside about 10 weeks ago, and noticed last week that the leaves are starting to turn black. what is it? should I plant them in the garden after hardening off? or should I just chuck them and purchase some fresh pepper plants?

    • I gather your peppers are still indoors. Seedlings still indoors with leaves turning black could be an indication of too much water; the leaves may be rotting. Make sure the soil is moist, but not wet. Setting the seedlings into the garden may work–the soil will likely dry as they are exposed to more sun. If you don’t think rot is involved, leaf spot may be an indication of a fungal disease. Leaf spot fungi cause irregular brown, yellow, reddish, or black spots or blotches on leaves and sometimes stems. The spots will have an irregular margin. Commonly not all leaves are involved; only portions of the plant such as lower leaves or new leaves. Keeping foliage dry and keeping the seed growing area very clean can help prevent fungal disease. Since seedlings are involved, you may simply want to start over rather than grow on compromised plants. A fungicide may help to control the disease. Lastly, another possible cause of black leaves is sooty mold; this is a dark fungi that grows on the plant surfaces of plant covered with honeydew excreted by insects such as aphids or whiteflies. Use an insecticide if you find insects present, then simply clean the leaves with soapy water.

    • Ghost pepper–also called Naga Bhut Jolokia–is a hybrid pepper; it is one of the hottest peppers. Peppers are generally self-pollinating having a complete flower. However, it is possible that peppers can be cross pollinated by insects, though it is generally not common. To ensure the integrity of your peppers, plant differing species 150 feet apart, or plant peppers successively so that differing species do not flower at the same time. Another method of preventing cross pollination is to place a small paper bag over blossoms at flowering time to keep pollinators from visiting. Cross pollination between hybrids will result in a pepper not true to its parent; this is also the case with open-pollinated peppers. So the answer to your question is: yes, cross pollination could weaken the heat of your peppers. But, again, cross pollination is not common. The ghost pepper is thought to be an interspecies hybrid, mostly Capsicum chinense with C. frutescens.

  7. My pepper plants are dying one after another in a row.No sign of grubs in soil.They seem to be fine, then wilt die within 24 hrs.It started on one end of the garden and is happening to the next plant in the row.

    • Plants failing one after the other in a row: you may have a gopher or mole at work in your garden. These pests burrow their way beneath garden rows and plants eating the roots–much like a buffet line. Trapping is the best deterrent; you can find traps at the local garden center. Excluding gophers from the garden will also work: this involved surrounding each plant or the entire garden with mesh underground fencing; gopher cages are also available at garden centers. Natural enemies are snakes, skunks, owls and cats and dogs.

  8. Fatalii peppers are normally big and yellow but mine are tiny and red. There is a lot of flowers falling around the plant, and some leaves have a little bit of yellow on the edges, and a few little brown spots on some leaves. Is it because its too cold or because they dont receive enough sunlight? Please help me !

    • Peppers are very sensitive to cold; if your night temperature has dipped below 70F, your peppers may be dropping the blossoms reacting to the chill. When temperatures are forecast to dip, place a “plant blanket” made of spun polyester over your plants to keep them warm–or place a plastic tunnel over the plants; this can increase the night temps by up to 10F. Once temperatures moderate your plants will likely re-blossom. Your description of the situation sounds as though temperatures have just not been warm enough so far this season to push fruit ripening.

  9. My sugestion is change your CACHUCHA (Cuban) pepper for a hardier similar pepper; Puertorrican Sweet pepper for cooking, also called in spanish “Aji dulce de cocinar”. This pepper no requires a lot of nitrogen (fertilizer), tolerates dry and humid soil, and produce a lot of fruits. It has a fast growing/flowering rate but it no tolerates tempertures under 50f.

    • Pepper fruit dropping early can be a sign of insect pests at work. Look to see if there are any small holes in the fruit. If so, corn earworms, corn borers, pepper maggots, or pepper weevils could be attacking your plants. Unfortunately, once these worms are in the fruit nearly all is lost; cut into the fruit to see if the the larvae are present. If some of the fruit is undamaged you can still use it. The best course of action is to clean the garden thoroughly, place in the trash any damaged plants. If you find no evidence of insect damage, then be sure the plants are getting even water–that is the soil does not dry out or go too wet. Peppers like even moisture to mature–not wetting and drying, wetting and drying.

  10. My pepper plants are very small…hardly growing…however, they have peppers on them. The plants are only about a foot high. We’ve fed them. Is there something that can be done?

    • You did not mention the variety of pepper you are growing. Some peppers do not grow much taller than a foot to 18 inches high. Assuming the variety you are growing matures at a more than 12 inches tall, give the plant plenty of well-rotted compost–which contains all of the essential macro and micro nutrients a plant will need to reach full maturity. Keep the soil just moist, but not too wet and do not allow the soil to dry out. If the day and night temperatures average 65F and greater, your plant should mature.

  11. We’re growing a patch of hot peppers – about 12 plants. The jalapenos are doing great – lush, big and tons of fruit. The chili de arbol and ghost pepper are both growing; the arbol has some fruit and the ghost had tons of flowers, but on both plants, the blooms are turning black and dying. The rest of the plant looks fine. The ghost has produced no fruit, and some of the leaves have been eaten. Across the yard (far away), three bell peppers are doing the same thing. We live in coastal So Cal, so sunny and warm during the day, 60s at night. We don’t over water (once a week, dries out in between). I don’t see any pests on the plants, though we do have aphids in the yard. Any idea what it might be? We garden organically. Thank you!

    • Peppers can drop blossoms when the temperature is too cool or too hot; below 55F or above 90F. Peppers can drop blossoms when plants are water stressed; check the soil moisture regularly and water whenever the top inch of soil is dry. Tarnished plant bugs–about 1/4 inch in size–can attack pepper blossoms (you may need a hand lens to see them); spray infected plants with insecticidal soap–but it may take several applications to control an infestation.

    • Yellowing leaves and rotting stem is not a good sign for eggplant or any plant. I suspect this deterioration is a sign of Verticillium wilt a fungal disease that is a serious problem for eggplant. The fungal spores invade crop roots through small wounds and then the fungus spreads to the plant’s vascular system blocking water and nutrients from reaching the top of the plant and fruit. Commonly eggplants infected while young die. Cut a stem from the base of the plant and then cut in half down the middle, if you see dark streaks the infection is taking over. The best you can do to save the plant is to keep the ground moist, but not overly wet, and add compost around the plant. However, if the fruit is already infected, you will lose the harvest. Harvest any uninfected fruit and the best course is to destroy the plants to limit the spread of the fungus. Dispose of the infected plant residue. Next season add lots of compost to your planting bed before planting and plant eggplant varieties that are resistant to Verticillium.

    • Fruit splitting can be an indication of uneven watering–too little and then too much; this can be caused by rain or poor irrigation. Splitting fruit may also indicate a lack of calcium and magnesium in your soil. Add an organic fertilizer than contains both of these.

  12. I have Habanero and ghost peppers that the tops are dying and the stems are shriveling up. The lower leaves last for a couple of weeks after then die off. What can I do?

      • “Fruit” normally means the fleshy seed-associated structures of a plant. Peppers, tomatoes, and eggplants are among the fruiting vegetables.

    • If the growing tips die out, this could be the result of spotted wilt virus–sometimes small dark spots will appear on leaves and brown streaks on stems; if this happens remove the plants from the garden. This virus will not survive long outside of the plant. Hopefully it is not a virus. Die back, leaf drop, and fruit drop can be the result of a lack of soil moisture. Keep the soil evenly moist–not too wet and never dry.

  13. pepper plant leaves seem to be breaking off about 1 inch from stem, leaves nice and green, most laying on the ground but some just broke and hanging

    • Pepper plant branches can be very brittle. Could it be that an animal or human brushed against the branches and broke them. I plant my peppers inside tomato cages to offer protection from unintentional damage. As well the cages support plant branches once they have fruit.

  14. I have pepper plants that seem to be flourishing, growing with ample leaves and getting multiple fruit in the last few weeks. Suddenly they have started getting 1-2 large yellow spots on a few of the leaves, the inside of which turned brown. I can’t find any description or images that match it. What could this be? Is there any way to fix it?

    • Light-colored spots on pepper leaves may be a sign of early blight. Infected leaves will die and fall off. Early blight will not kill the plant. Remove infected leaves and dispose of them in the trash. Keep the garden clean of plant debris. Choose disease resistant varieties when you plant again.

  15. In Panhandle of Fl. Planted in the 1st of June. Plants seem small and one plant has two peppers and one has a black spot. What should be done?

    • Pepper plants are very temperature sensitive. It’s best to not plant peppers until the soil has warmed to 70F. Then you must protect plants from nighttime temperatures below 60F and from temperatures greater than 90F. Use row covers and double row covers to protect pepper plants from the cold. Shelter pepper plants from the heat with shade cloth draped over a frame–leave plenty of room for air circulation, and mist plants that have set fruit in midday when it is hot. If the air and soil temperatures are optimal from the low 70sF to mid 80sF, you can expect optimal growth and production.

  16. I’ve been growing Cubanalle peppers all season long. Plants have been producing nice peppers up until a week ago. The peppers are turning brown and rotting on the stems now. Is it fungus or bugs causing this problem…or hot temps. I live in Central Florida and plants are in containers.

    • Temperatures greater than 90F can cause pepper blossom to drop and fruit to sunburn. Shelter plants from the heat by placing a frame and shade cloth over the plants or by planting between taller crops. If temperatures remain high, lightly mist plants with cool water in the middle of the day. Pepper weevils–tiny black beetles–can also cause misshapen flowers and fruits to yellow and never mature. Keep your garden clean to avoid weevil infestations and look under leaves to crush egg clusters.

    • Leaf and shoot burn could be a sign of too much nitrogen in the soil; but it also could be the result of sun burn. If the weather has been hot, place a frame over your plants and cover it with shade cloth to protect plants from too much sun.

    • Bottom of the pepper turning brown–becoming water soaked–is a sign of blossom-end rot. Blossom-end rot can be due to water stress, that is lack of soil moisture, but it could also be a sign that there is a nutrient deficiency. Make sure you are not applying too much nitrogen to your planting beds, and use a all-purpose fertilizer that contains calcium (for strong cell wall growth)–Lilly-Miller MorCrop is a good organic choice.

  17. I have about a dozen pepper plants in pots which I grow out doors (in Alaska) and are now indoors under growing lamps for the winter. They have been doing great for the most part – vibrant and shiny smooth leaves. About a month being indoors tiny, white insects (looks like grains of sawdust) appeared and are infesting all the pepper plants. Some of the leaves are now distorted and some simply fall off the plants. . I used insecticidal soap spray and it does slow down the infestation to some degree. In recent weeks however, for no explainable reason my healthy plants are dying one by one. In a matter of hours the top leaves lose their shiny luster, and begin wilting. other leaves follow over a day or so until the plant completely wilts (from top to bottom). The plants have been adequately been hydrated so, I believe some other kind of pest is destroying them. does anyone know what this may be and if anything can be done to salvage my remaining plants?

    • Growing indoors can be difficult; you must control temperature and soil moisture. Pepper plants will suffer if the temperature is too high or too low and when they are water-stressed. Bacterial wilt can develop suddenly causing plats to wilt and die quickly. Bacterial wilt is a soil borne disease–make sure the soil is well drained at all times.

  18. Am experiencing problems with black seeds in scotch bonnet peppers,which is causing rejects from the processing plants. this affecting quite a few farmers as well. Jamaica

    • Yellowing leaves can be the result of too little nitrogen in the soil. As well, there may be insects at work such as spider mites. Use a strong stream of water to wash away any insects on leaves. Feed your peppers with fish emulsion tea, compost tea, or manure tea. Re-new your planting beds with plenty of aged compost at the close of each season and just before planting in the spring.

  19. I’m growing scorpion peppers indoors under dual florescent lights and they’re now beginning their 2nd set of true leaves. I’ve got splotchy, black, white and yellow discoloration along some of the edges of the leaves. I was thinking powdery mildew, but it won’t wipe off. Any ideas?

    Images can be found HERE

    Thanks in advance!

    • Look for small dark specks and webbing on leaf undersides–if so treat the plants for spider mites with a strong spray of water. Mottling could be a sign of mosaic virus; resistant varieties are the best course in the future.

  20. This is my first year growing a variety of sweet and hot peppers. I usually have fruit on all my plants by now but this year nothing.They are not even blooming but are large plants. I use 10/10/10 plant food. Could it be that it is too hot for them? I live in central Florida. Any comment would be appreciated. Thanks

    • Your fertilizer is too high in nitrogen–resulting in foliage growth and the the lack of fruit on your pepper plants. A better choice would be a NPK ratio of 5-10-10. Phosphorus promotes bloom and fruit growth.

  21. my very small green peppers (the actual peppers and not leaves) are curling up. Temps at night do get down around 60 but daytimes are 90 +. This seems to be the only suggestion for any kind of problem possibly related to this?

    • With temperatures in the 90s and fruit forming, it is important to keep the soil evenly moist–do not allow the soil to go completely dry. Perhaps the plants are not taking up enough moisture, in which case small fruits would be the first to suffer.

  22. My peppers are bitten off on the stem above the fruit/flower. I want to use sevin but I dont want to kill the pollinators. Can you tell the what n how. thnx

    • Many pesticides can be as deadly to pollinators and beneficial insects as they are to pest insects. To avoid dusting or spraying plants with a pesticide–yet you know pests are at work, take another step back in the lifecycle of the pests: check the undersides of leaves frequently for masses of white eggs and crush them. You can also use a strong, steady stream of water to knock pests off of plants. Handpick and destroy adult pest insects.

  23. I have 2 very large ghost pepper plants that are producing fruit now, that is not yet ripened. At the node where branches split off from the main branch, there are tiny white circular indentations. Two smaller branches have collapsed and seem to be falling off at the node, and they have strips of stem eaten away underneath them, so they have no support and collapse. Is this a bacteria? Virus? I use Azamax on my plants. Help would be awesome!

    • Could the problem be white mold? White mold start as water-soaked spots on stems. In time, branches wilt and collapse. This can be brought on by wet soil and wet weather. The plant will likely be lost. Improving soil drainage by adding aged compost to the planting bed may help.

    • Yes and yes–it could be a fungus called damping off which attacks young seedlings. And yes if the soil temperature dips below 68F/20C seedlings can wither. You can keep the soil temperature at 68F using a heating mat or cables. You can avoid damping off by using sterile seed starting mix keeping the starting mix just lightly moist never wet.

    • If your peppers are still maturing–not yet near harvest–and they have turned from green to black, it is likely they are suffering from a rot. Rots on fruits such as peppers and tomatoes are a disorder and not a disease–commonly caused by too little calcium in young fruits. This can happen when plants are not getting enough water and are unable to draw up calcium from the soil. Make sure the soil is just moist at all times–not overwatered and not dry. As well, you can add sprinkle a fertilizer around the base of plants that contains calcium.

  24. I’ve started a few varieties of peppers I a small greenhouse, they came up nice but ones they got their first set of true leafs I noticed they weren’t nice looken, they’re curled upwards real bad, right now they’re a few inches tall and the bottom leafs look good now but the new leafs are curled again, I have also had a few plants that first wilted then died off having a dried out root, the temperature is around 25 C during the day and around 12 C over night, some nights down to 7 or 8 C , one more thing before I planted the seeds there were lots of ants in greenhouse so I spread
    some sevin dust and worked that in to the soil to kill the ants, might that be my problem now?
    I’ve also tryed spraying copper based fungicides… doesn’t seem to lift the problem. Thanks for any answer you can give me to this issue. From Mexico

    • There are several potential causes for pepper leaf curl:(1) Environmental stress–temperatures too hot or too cold or exposure to drying wind–can cause pepper leaves to curl. Maintain an air temperature of about 80F (26C) as best you can. Protect pepper plants from cool nighttime temperatures by placing plastic cloches or tunnels over plants. Protect plants from high temperatures by putting shade cloth in place and increasing irrigation. (2) Pests feeding on leaves can cause leaf curl: aphids, thrips, mites, and whiteflies attack mature leaves–usually not young leaves. You can control these pests with insecticidal soap or neem oil. (3) Viral diseases can cause pepper leaves to curl–viral leaf curl is often accompanied by yellow spots, rings or bullseyes on leaves. Viral diseases can be spread by insects or may be present in the soil. Be sure to use sterile or pasteurized seed starting mix. There is no cure of viral plant diseases. (4) Herbicides can cause leaves to curl–avoid exposing plants to herbicides or secondary spray drift.

    • After your remove the seeds from an open-pollinated pepper or other vegetable, let them dry on a sheet of wax paper for several days to a week. Then store them in a paper envelope in the refrigerator until you are ready to sow seed again.

  25. I have been growing a variety of peppers all over my garden but always seem to have the same problem. They all start off healthy but as the plant matures the new top leaves curl down and new stem shoots almost turn brown and frizzled. the plant eventually dies

    • Leaves curling and top die-back may be the result of temperatures too chilly for the pepper. Plant not sooner than 4 weeks after the last frost when nighttime temperatures remain in the high 60sF. If the temperature is cooler, protect the plants. If temperature is not the problem, then add plenty of aged-compost to your planting beds to make sure they are both water-retentive and well-drained (compost can do both)–as well compost or a very good planting mix will boost nutrients. Well-drained soil should stem root rot which also can result in die-back. Keep an eye-out for aphids or other insect pests which can spread plant viruses such as curly top virus. Finally, choose pepper varieties that are disease resistant.

  26. My red and green sweet pepper plants have flowers on them and the peppers begin to grow then they fall off. There are brown spots on the stems, too. I noticed snails on some of the plants and have been diligent in keeping them off. I live in Central FL so we are well into the growing season.

    • The brown spots on your pepper plant stems could be a sign of blight–if the brown spots become mushy and ooze. Once blight takes hold, there is little you can do. Make sure your planting beds are well-drained by adding lots of aged compost. Avoid overwatering–water just to keep the roots moist.

  27. Me and my wife are growing dragon cayenne peppers indoors. The plant itself looks healthy except near the top end of the stem, right before the canopy of leaves, it’s has turned a reddish brown color. The leaves are still growing well and it’s not mature enough to for fruit yet. Is it a problem we should worry about?

    • A fungal disease called Verticillium wilt can cause pepper and tomato plant stems to darken about 10-12 inches above the soil line. Leaves commonly turn brown as well. Infected plants usually usually survive but are stunted and may not produce fruit or may produce underdeveloped fruit–but the fruit is still edible. If they produce any fruit, it’s small and underdeveloped. Having said that, the fruit is edible. Verticillium wilt thrives in cool temperatures, less than 75F, when the soil is moist. The best practice is to plant peppers in warm, well-drained soil. Do not plant again in soil that has been infected.

  28. Hi guys. Im growing California Wonder Capsicum in sub tropic weather. I bought them a few months ago as babies. It has just turned to autumn & my fruits are setting in for the first time. I have 2 capsicums in the same pot. One is doing well producing decent sized fruit, but the other is producing tiny round or deformed balls of fruit with really thick scaly brownish skin that is starting to split in places. There could be a possibility of underwatering a few weeks ago. Can the plant come back from this? Or should I rip it up?

    • You can nip off the deformed fruits and wait for the plant to flower again. If you have enough warm season left then you should get to harvest with even watering. It was probably the lack of water that set your plant back.

      • My cherry pepper plants have nice production,but the fruits become brown and filled with fluid,skin thinning and finally rotten. This happens almost nearing maturity. Whatis the problem and how to prevent. Please help.

        • Three reasons peppers can suffer rot at the end of the season are (1) sunscald which is skin sunburn that in turn becomes infected by fungus or bacteria; heat breaks down the skin tissue and disease can easily take hold; shield plants from mid-day sun with shade cloth over a frame; (2) blossom end rot which can happen if the soil does not stay moist and calcium for cell and tissue development is not able to travel from the soil to the fruit; (3) anthracnose; this is a fungal disease which causes fruits to soften and form sunken lesions which then rot; apply a fungicide at the first sign of skin softening and rot–to save other fruits on the plant.

  29. I was growing bell peppers from seed so now they are three to four inches old. The leaves of the plants are starting to curl and the bottom sides of the leaves are turning white. Do any of you know the problem? I live in California if that helps.

    • If nighttime temperatures are chilly–the seedlings could be suffering from a cold burn. Protect tender seedlings from chill by placing a milk-jug with the bottom cut out around them–open at the top. Keep the plants just moist until they are well rooted; don’t let the roots go dry.

    • Wait patiently while the plant takes a rest. During this period you can cut the plant back if it is leggy. Do not over-fertilize. In a few months the plant will likely begin to flower and produce again. The habanero pepper is a perennial and with care should produce for several years. Like all plants it will rest for several months during the year.

    • Early in the season pepper fruits may start to wrinkle if the plants are not taking up enough moisture; keep the soil evenly moist. Closer to harvest many peppers begin to wrinkle when they reach maturity or move past maturity.

  30. Thank you very much
    but I just started chili pepper
    and am planting them on plastic mulch but after one week of transplanting the seedling begin to look very soft on the leave
    I don’t know what to do

    • By soft on the leaves, do you mean wilting. A week after transplanting be sure that your young plants are getting sufficient moisture. The soil should be kept just moist, not too wet, never completely dry. As well, your plastic mulch may be soaking up heat from the sun which may be too much for the seedlings. Perhaps put a shade cover over the plants for a week or 10 days until they are acclimatized.

    • Probably not, but hope for the best. If the capillary system which takes water and nutrients from the roots to the leaves and fruits was damaged, you will likely see die back in the next few days. If you see blooms on other parts of the plant then new fruits will likely appear soon.

    • Leaf drop is a sign of stress. Check to see if it could be (1) not enough water, (2) too much water, (3) too much fertilizer–too much nitrogen, (4) weather too hot–greater than 90F or too cold, under 60F, (5) disturbed roots–foot traffic or mechanical damage.

    • If a few of the leaves on your pepper plant got sunburned and fell off, the plant will likely produce new leaves. If all of the leaves have dropped, the plant may become quite stressed and not make it. If the weather is very hot, place a spun poly row cover over the plant or place shadecloth on a frame over the plant. Protecting the plant while it recovers is important.

  31. My bell pepper plant has many unopened buds but only one pepper so far. The pepper has been growing for about two weeks but no other signs of progress elsewhere in the plant. Is this normal?

    • Peppers can be finicky–high and low temperatures can delay flowering and fruit set–temps in the 80sF are about right. Make sure the soil staying evenly moist so that the plant does not become stressed. As well shield the plant from wind.

  32. Hi I have a few questions this is my 1st time growing anything and my pepper plants r not doing good the leaves are turning yellow I checked to see if I was over watering and the soil was not wet the pepper that is on there is small like the size of a50 cent piece but it’s already turning red and it’s a green pepper plant what can I do please help!

    • Keep the soil evenly moist; if it’s not over-watering, make sure you are not under-watering. The soil should be moist at the root level; you can use a moisture meter to check. Yellowing leaves may also indicate lack of nitrogen in the soil; water the plant with compost tea of fish or kelp meal–follow the directions on the label. Green peppers if left too long on a plant can turn orange to red with age; or your plant may have been mislabeled at the garden center.

  33. My poblano peppers were growing wonderfully, nearly 4 feet tall with lots of young fruits. All of a sudden a couple days ago the leaves started disappearing, young leaves first, with no sign of them on the ground. I am guessing this is some type of pest, but I’m not seeing any descriptions similar to this. The leaves are not skeletonized, but completely removed from the stems. Nearly all of the fruit have come off as well. It has one small pepper left on the stem, and one tiny one that I found on the ground this morning.

    • Leaves disappearing and also fruit from a pepper plant: sounds like a four-legged critter is visiting the garden and enjoying the young leaves and fruit–full of moisture and flavorful for a critter. You might try excluding the critters by draping bird netting over the plants or you could try to dissuade them from coming close to plants with a pepper-based repellent.

      • The pot is 2 feet off the ground, and the first leaves to go were at the top of the plant. The leaves seem to be coming back now, though. Hopefully it will produce more fruit. We’ve had highs in the 100s for several weeks and August is usually hotter

  34. Any suggestions what to do for leafminers? They have gone after my pepper plants every summer for the last 3 years. They seemed to go away from the pepper plants when I let onion plants mature and produce flowers next to them, but now they are attacking my squash, tomato, and potato plants. Neem oil has been ineffective

    • Mid to late season, the best defense against leafminers is to spray the undersides of leaves with a lightweight horticultural oil which will destroy the eggs. Earlier in the season you can turn the soil before planting to bury leafminer pupae; keep the garden free of weeds which harbor leafminers; cover seedbeds with row covers to exclude flies and maggots; handpick damaged leaves; spray with neem oil.

  35. Hi Steve. My pepper plants (sweet pepper variety) are doing ok but don’t seem to “flourishing”. They have produced perfectly fine fruit but only one or two at a time. The plant leaves seem to have lost their vibrant green colour, are a little small and are starting to curl. Not sure what the problem is. Could it be that they are undernourished?

    • Your peppers may be under-performing for a variety of reasons: (1) soil is to dry–keep the soil evenly moist; (2) the weather is too hot or too cold–peppers can suffer when temps climb into the 90sF and higher; you must simply wait for the temperatures to moderate and protect the plants with shade cloth; (3) not enough nutrients; use a 5-10-10 organic fertilizer to give the plants a boost–sidedress around each plant; also give the plants a foliar feeding with compost tea; (4) insect attack–curling leaves may be the sign of underwatering, but also a sign that insects are feeding on the undersides of leaves–check and wash away any pest insects with a stream of water; (5) the start of disease–a fungal or viral disease may be attacking the plants; if this is the case, the plants may continue to decline and fail–on the offseason add plenty of aged compost to the planting beds.

    • Small pepper fruits is often a sign of poor pollination which can be caused by not enough sunlight or low temperatures during bloom time. Grow peppers in full sun and don’t rush them into the garden. The small fruits should be picked–that will encourage new blooms and new fruit set. You can improve pollination by tapping the flowers during the afternoon (but not on rainy days).

    • Make sure your pepper plants are getting consistent moisture from bloom almost all the way to harvest. Never let the soil go dry. As well add phosphorus to the soil–which promotes fruit growth.

  36. My chili pepper plant is young (month old) but it is growing straight up without any side branches. I know that I should prune but it is about 45 cm tall. I’m not sure how far down I can prune to allow splitting.

  37. Hi, I always have good luck with green sweet peppers. I have never had any luck growing sweet red peppers. Can you suggest any variety of sweet red bell pepper that I can grow in my garden. I have tried several so called sweet red peppers and have managed to a few partially red peppers but they rot. Am I correct in understand that these peppers start out green and then turn red or are they supposed to be red from the start? I go to the supermarket and see those giant red bell peppers and wonder what the farmer is doing that I am not?

    • Peppers you find at the supermarket are likely grown in a very warm location or in climate-controlled greenhouses. You can grow peppers in a clear plastic tunnel to keep the plants warm and to ensure more even ripening. All-America Selection peppers (AAS) are good choices; they have test grown in many regions and perform well in each. AAS Red bells include Carmen, Bell Boy. and MexiBell–try these. Naturally peppers progress from green to yellow to orange to red as they ripen; unless they have been hybridized to remain a specific color.

  38. One of my pepper plants has started dropping all the leaves. I noticed last weekend that the pot does not want to drain for some reason. Could this be the reason for the leaves dropping? Until this week that one pepper plant was completely healthy and still bearing fruit

    • Pepper plant leaf drop can be the result of stress–too much water, a container that does not drain–would be one reason. Too little water would stress the plant as well, and also temperatures too warm or too cold.

    • There are many factors that can cause a plant to experience stunted growth: soil, temperature, water, nutrients–too much or too little of what plants require to grow can cause plants stress that result in stunted growth. Keeping a garden diary can often help to uncover what might have gone wrong for your plant.

    • Small holes in pepper leaves is likely a sign of flea beetles or European corn borers feeding. If the damage is low down on the plant it will probably not effect fruit production (you have a lot of flowers = fruit coming). If damage is close to the fruit,check fruit for holes–that would be a sign that borers are feeding. Put out sticky traps to control flea beetles–bounce the leaves and flea beetles will jump and land on the sticky trap. You can also deter flea beetles with garlic spray. Borers can be controlled with Bacillus thuringiensis or spinosad sprays.

  39. My habanero chillies are some capsicums too are slowly turning all brown and soft. I live in a hot, humid Brisbane, Australian climate. Temps can be regularly around 90 degrees (F) at the moment in summer. Could this be from underwatering, i have noticed dry soil and some other plants struggling in midday sun, or lack of certain nutrients? I can send a few pics?

    • Keep the soil evenly moist while pepper fruits are developing. Only a week or so before harvest do you want to cut back on water. If days are very sunny and hot, then you can protect the fruits from sunburn by placing shade cloth over the plants.

    • Pepper plants–and other plants–that wilt are not drawing enough moisture from the soil. Water at the base of plants in the late afternoon. This will slow evaporation. Add aged compost or planting mix to the planting beds; aged compost or loamy planting mix will hold soil moisture much longer than sandy soil. As the plants grow large and the roots grow deep, you should be able to water just 2 or 3 times a week if the soil is compost rich.

  40. My pepper about 50% are coming through the ground and all they are is a straight stem and after 7-10 days fall over and die. They first ones are looking good and are two inched tall and have 2-3 leaves

    • Are you’re peppers indoors or outdoors? Warmth and light are very important for development. Young pepper seed and young seedlings will do best if the temperatures says at or near 70F for the first few weeks. Then the temperature should be no less than 65F at night. Full sun or grow 3 inches above the seedlings for the first weeks. Protect outdoor plants with a plastic tunnel until temperatures warm. Keep the soil evenly moist–not wet, never dry.

  41. Hi, I am growing a variety of pepper plants in pots–jalapeno, trinidad scorpion, cascabel chilli, poblano, aji amarillo, sante fe — some plants have leaves that are curled and very stunted, some plants do not. Some of the plants with curled leaves are in the same pot as the healthy looking plants. Others are in their own pot. All my peppers have been growing side by side which makes me think its not aphids. I would imagine the aphids would attack all the plants in the same pot or in the nearby pot. I would imagine this would be true for bacteria. Any insight would be very much appreciated.

    As an aside, I live in Cambodia.

    • Separate the young plants–put them in their own pots–as soon as possible. It would be best to start seed in individual cups if possible. Plant enough seed to allow for some failure. Get rid of the weak seedlings as soon as you identify them. Seedlings in the same pot will be competing for moisture, nutrients, and light; it is a given that the stronger ones will prevail.

        • Pepper leaves will curl upward if (1) soil moisture is uneven–commonly, too little soil moisture be sure the soil stays evenly moist; (2) very hot weather–if this is the case, place a shade cloth over the plants until the hot weather goes away; (3) insect attack–sucking insects can cause leaf distortion; check both the upper and lower sides of leaves to make sure insects are not active.

  42. I live in San Antonio, Tx and I planted peppers and tomatoes about 3 weeks ago in large pots. Everything is beautiful, green, healthy looking, flowering, starting to produce. But my peppers, 1 sweet and 1 jalapeno, are developing deformed leaves. They only deform one 1 side of the leaf, along the edge. Otherwise, the leaves look healthy and green, with a few faint yellow spots. I don’t see any aphids or other critters. It seems to be getting a little worse on each new leaf. Baby pepper buds appear to be fine.

    Any ideas what this is and what to do about it? Can it spread to my tomatoes? Oh, it’s much worse on my jalapeno. I definitely do not want to lose these babies, as I’ve become emotionally attached lol.

    Thanks y’all!

    • If the pepper leaves are deformed on just one edge of the leaf, check for pests like aphids (you found no sign of aphids) or thrips or mites (very hard to see) and whiteflies. All of these insect pests cause leaf curl on pepper plants as a result of feeding–they suck juices from plant tissue. Young leaves attacked by these pests become curled or twisted; mature leaves attacked by these pest can develop spotted or stippled areas then the leaves dry and turn brown or fall off. To check for signs of these pests place a yellow sticky trap near the plants; you should catch the pests quickly. If no pests are found, then a couple of environmental problems could be the cause: (1) the soil is drying out between waterings and water to plant cells is interrupted causing the leaves to curl pr (2) intense sun or too much rain–the leaves will curl as a defensive measure, but should self correct.

  43. I live in Ohio. I have a few Cayenne plants growing, just bloomed recently but the stem has a place about half an inch tall that looks dead. This makes the stem bend there but it is still alive on both sides of that spot. 1 out of 4 was like that for about a week and now it happened to another. I couldn’t find any holes in it so I don’t understand.

    • Pepper stem rot may be attributed to the fungus Phytophthora capsici. This fungal disease can strike peppers at almost any time in the growth cycle. Since this is a fungal disease it is best to remove infected plants from the garden before fungal spores spread to other plants. You can spray all of your plants with compost tea–this will slow fungal spore growth. Looking to future crops, add plenty of aged compost or planting mix to the planting beds to ensure they are well drained. Irrigate only at the base of the plants–no overhead irrigation. Not planting solanaceae family plants in the infected bed for 3 years may also stem spread of the disease.

  44. hello everyone,just have to say that your site has the most information on peppers and problems with them. i have a question–why is my hungarian hot wax peppers only around 8 inches tall and making flowers

    • Peppers and tomatoes can flower when still quite young; it is not unusual for a 6-inch/ 15 cm plant to flower. If the flowers turn to fruits the plant may be still to small to bear the weight of the fruit. You can nip the flowers off now and give the plants another 3 or 4 weeks to gain some stature and strength–and more root development, then let them flower and set fruit.

  45. I’ve read everything above (and a whole lot more!) and am still at a loss. I’ve now killed several rounds of pepper plants of seven different hot/sweet varieties in both containers and raised beds. In each case, the leaves yellow and then drop, starting at the bottom. They are in newly imported and University tested garden soil (so not a rotation problem) with mushroom compost. Most perplexingly, the same exact soil and location is growing tomatoes like CRAZY. I’m in southeast Louisiana, so heat and humidity are not a problem; we get A LOT of rain, but the beds and pots are well drained. From the above, I would guess verticulum wilt, but wouldn’t that affect other plants (3 kinds of tomatoes, basil, Malabar spinach all growing well in the same configurations; okra not doing well either, but not as badly as peppers).

    I absolutely adore as many varieties of garden grown pepper as possible and almost can’t live without at least jalapenos…I’ve been so successful with them in the past, though in a different climate. Any help greatly appreciated!

    Oh, and I’ve scoured them…no bugs or other obvious pests, and the leaves just drop, yellowed but intact…no holes or munching marks.

    • Pepper leaves yellowing and dropping in the same soil that tomatoes are doing well: some detective work is needed. Consider all of the possible stresses that could be affecting your plants: (1) peppers are more sensitive to temperature than tomatoes–are night temps dipping below 60F or are daytime temps averaging 90F or greater; (2) is the soil staying evenly moist–do not let it dry out, but do not overwater (if the soil is too wet, a fungal disease such as verticillium or fusarium wilt could take hole); (3) could the nitrogen level in the pepper planting beds be elevated–too much nitrogen; mushroom compost is relatively low in nitrogen; have any other fertilizers been added to the beds; (4) are the plants getting 8 hours of sunlight each day; (5) check soil pH; peppers do not do well in acid soil. If you suspect verticillium wilt or another fungal disease; remove infected leaves; add aged compost around plants in increase drainage; water at the base of the plant, not overhead; rotate peppers to another planting bed if the bed has been diseased in last 3 years.

  46. We have beautiful gypsy sweet plants growing outside and they have plentiful, good looking fruit. The only problem is they are not turning! Been hanging for a couple weeks now. I am afraid they will rot without turning. What can we do?

    • Peppers take their own time to ripen and turn color–usually another 2 to 3 weeks after they reach full size. The optimal temperature for pepper ripening is 70-80F; if it is cooler or if the temperatures are greater than 90F, ripening will be delayed. Peppers will ripen off of the plant. Off the plant, place the pepper in a paper bag or box with a ripe banana or ripe tomato; these give off ethylene gas which will speed the ripening of the pepper. Green, mature peppers stored at 65-70 degrees, will ripen in about 2 weeks. Cooler temperatures slow the ripening process.

  47. Help from Virginia– I have been growing peppers in large planters pots for two years. This year I switched from Jalapenos to something more challenging- Hot Salsa and Cubanelle. They have both produced several peppers so far this year. I have noticed that both varieties are starting to curl significantly when growing. I mean, they are growing in spirals. I looked above to see if it was a listed cause, but did not notice. Is this something normal?

    • The plants are growing in spirals or the fruits are growing in spirals? If the plants appear twisted by otherwise healthy place a small stake next to the main stem and loosely tie the plant to the stake for support. If the fruits are growing in spiral: this is not uncommon for many hot peppers. Just be sure the soil is staying just moist–not too wet. Feed the plants compost tea. Check under the leaves for insects or insect eggs; crush any you find.

    • Leaf drop can be caused by changes in temperature — temps dropping or spiking. Also too little or too much moisture in the soil. Try to keep seedlings at about 70F and the soil just moist. If seedlings are outdoors protect them from night time chill by protecting with a row cover.

  48. I planted 12 pepper plants recently and within a couple days all of the leaves fell off. I bought a few more peppers and it looks like the same thing is going to happen. The leaves look as if they were frozen with that translucent kind of look that plants get after a hard frost. Problem is it definitely isn’t cold! I am in North Carolina. Our first planting (several weeks ago) of pepper plants in a different row are doing great and already producing. I’m not sure what is happening. The soil here is sandy. Thanks for any help.

    • You can rule out cold damage if day and night temperatures have remained consistently above 55F. If the weather has been hot and sunny, leaves of young seedlings can burn and turn translucent. Shade the seedlings for a week for two until they gain strength. If you have ruled out both of these, then the problem may be the soil. If you lose the seedlings in this location again, amend the soil before planting again. You can improve sandy soil by adding commercial organic planting mix or aged compost. Adding planting mix and aged compost will improve the soil’s moisture holding capacity and add nutrients to the soil.

  49. Hi! My pepper plates are producing like crazy! Big, dark green and beautiful. Now they are producing very small and they quickly turn from green to black to red. They are now only about an inch and are red. They are outside in full sun. Might have a bit too much water. They only have one or no seeds inside. There are a ton of peppers on the plant. Maybe I’m not harvesting them fast enough? Southern California.

    • Let’s consider each of your observations in order: (1) dark and green–green to black to red: Almost all peppers will turn from green to red if left on the plant long enough; as well, peppers can be harvested at any color; note the number of days to maturity for the variety you are growing and start your harvest on or about the day you’ve marked on the calendar; then harvest regularly; do not let fruits stay on the plant too long–if you allow fruits to become overripe they will both deteriorate and slow plant production. If you have more fruit than you want, remove flowers before pollination to control production. (2) too much water; keep the soil just moist; make sure the soil is well drained; that water does not sit around plants for more than 5 minutes after a watering; add aged compost to the soil to aid drainage and water holding capacity; let the soil almost dry out between waterings. (3) one or no seeds inside; this is indication of poor pollination–only partial pollination; the pepper has a “complete” flower which means it is self pollinating–there are male and female parts in each flower; when flowers are on the plant, give the plant a little shake; this will allow more pollen to drop from the male to female parts; this should aid complete pollination.

    • Peppers often have a bit of dark cell tissue where leaves meet stems. Keep an eye on the area; if the black spreads it may be the sign of a bacterial disease–in which case the plant should be removed from the garden. But if leaves remain green there is no need to worry.

  50. I planted a variety of peppers. Bell, Jalapeno, and baby sweet peppers, and the Jalapeno are doing great. However, I have 5 plants that are approaching 6′ tall! They haven’t flowered, or shown any signs of fruit. They have a bamboo like stalk that is pretty thick now 1″. Any suggestions on what these could be? or why they’re not flowering? We’ve been having great temps in the 75-90 range all year.

    • Pepper plants that have green growth and no flowers or fruit at mid-season are likely growing in soil too rich in nitrogen. Give the plants a soluble fertilizer (for fast uptake) that is rich in phosphorus. You might try an organic bloom booster fertilizer.

  51. My reapers are producing flower pods but wont flower..wuts going on? They are bushy lush green… i thought it was too much nitrogen so i offset it with bonemeal, a fertilizer that was rich in potassium and phosphorus, i also did an epson salt watering, sprayed with calcium. Please help.

    • Too much nitrogen is one likely cause of pepper blossoms failing to set fruit; the other is temperature–pollination can be inhibited by cool temperatures–below 60F (most likely at night) and by temperatures too warm–usually greater than 85F. When the temperature stays optimal the flowers should set fruit.

      • My reapers and scorpions have pods but wont flower. My shishito and dragon cayenne are exploding with fruits. My ghost chili, habanero (habanero tho small in stature) are all have also started fruiting. Does the temp differ between hot peppers? This last week, Sacramento weather has been between 75-85 with low 60s at nite. I did add organic compost 2 weeks ago. Do i have too much nutrients in it them? I treat all my plants the same and water at least every 2-3 days depending on dryness of top soil. Last week i sprinkled a little gypsum on them instead of the topical spray. Im worried with October around the corner im losing time.

        • You cannot add too much aged compost to planting beds whether you add before the season or as a side-dressing during the season. Peppers are very temperature sensitive; cool nights or days will set them back. Next season, plan to add bonemeal and epsom salt to the bottom of each planting hole before you set out transplants–place an inch of soil above these amendments before you set the seedling in the hole. This winter amend the planting beds with a couple of inches of aged compost and an inch of aged steer manure. Next season have some portable plastic tunnels on hand to cover the peppers when temperatures dip below 60F during the growing season. Flowers but no fruit formation means pollination was hindered, usually be low temperatures; optimal pollination temperature for peppers is 65-80F. You can extend the growing season early in spring and later in September and October by protecting the peppers with a plastic tunnel (you make a tunnel for each plant by setting a large tomato cage over each plant and wrapping it with clear plastic).

    • There are several serious diseases that can cause peppers to look burnt–to wither and die. These diseases include Phytophthora blight, cucumber virus, and Anthracnose. The diseased plants should be removed and disposed of. Avoid planting peppers, tomatoes, or potatoes in the same sport for 3 to 5 years.

    • Yellow sticky traps can be used any time during the year that insect pests are present in the garden. Place the yellow sticky trap not far from the plant you want to protect or place several traps around the garden. The yellow sticky trap will attract and trap whiteflies, thrips, aphids, leafhoppers, flea beetles, Mexican bean beetles, and moths.

  52. Terrible problem with white fly here in s florida. I would like to cover the plants with row cover but worried about pollination problems. I’ve read chile peppers are self pollinating but I am skeptical. What do you think?

    • All peppers are self-pollinating. The pollen needs only to drop from the male part to the female part of the flower–it is just a few centimeters. If you want to give the plants some help, give them a gentle shake during the dry part of the day. You can cover the peppers with row covers without inhibiting pollination.

    • The answer to your question is botanical: depending upon the variety of pepper you are growing there may be one to four locules inside the pepper; a locule is the chamber (or chambers) that contain the seeds. If you cut the pepper lengthwise you will see the locule or locules. Within each locule there is a length of pith (which is the placenta) that runs from the top of the pepper where it attaches to the calyx and pedicel (or stem) to the bottom of the locule. Attached to the pith or placenta are the seeds. A pepper may feel light weight compared to its length if it has just one locule; it may also feel light weight if there was incomplete pollination and the placenta is underdeveloped and there are fewer seeds than if pollination had been complete. A pepper flower is a “complete flower” meaning it has both male and female parts–pollen falls from the male part to the female part for pollination to occur. There are several environmental facors that can result in incomplete pollination.

    • There are several possible reasons pepper fruits do not grow to maturity, here are some: (1) insufficient pollination, (2) too much or too little water, (3) temperature too cool or too warm, (4) too much nitrogen in the soil–over fertilized. Read the posts at this site on growing peppers. You will need to be a bit of a detective to determine what is causing your peppers to fail. Make a checklist of to-dos and keep track of temperature and growing conditions this season to make sure all goes well.

  53. Hello from Colorado (elevation ~5400 ft). I can only grow small peppers because our growing season is short, although summers are hot and dry. In three different years, I’ve tried “sweet” lunchbox peppers, and they produced nice-looking fruit but it was really spicy! I don’t grow hot peppers anywhere nearby, if that even makes a difference. They are in an elevated bed filled with mostly organic soil and top-dressed with homemade compost. I use drip watering and mulch with newspaper. I’ve had good luck with Corno di Toro peppers, as well as small eggplants and cherry tomatoes. Any idea what could be causing my lunchbox peppers to be so hot?

    • Mild pepper plants that produce peppers that are hot may be stressed. The air temperature may be too hot or the soil may lack enough moisture. Amend planting beds with aged compost or commercial organic planting mix; both hold moisture. Keep the soil evenly moist during the season; don’t let it dry out. Place a frame and shade cloth over the planting bed so that sun does not hit the plants in the warmest part of the day.

  54. Our jumbo jalepeno plant is from last year. It’s a good size and started fruiting again, but the fruit is very small and already starting to turn red. We got pretty good sized peppers last year.
    We are in Southern California.

    • If your pepper overwintered and is starting a new season of production it may need a nutrient boost. Feed the plant with compost tea or dilute fish emulsion. You can add these nutrient-rich fertilizers at the base of the plant or via a foliar spray. You can also sprinkle aged compost or a commercial organic planting mix across the planting bed; irrigation will take nutrients down to the roots. The smaller fruits may simply be an indication that the plant needs additional nutrients; it may simply be exhausted from last years production. Feed the soil to feed the plants.

  55. Hello from San Diego! Thank you for such an thorough explanation on the problems + treatment! I’m growing several varieties of hot peppers (first timer!) and noticed tiny, thin/long, brown bugs (approx 4-5) moving about in each white flower. What are they and how should I treat – neem oil??

    • Pepper blossoms can be attacked by many pest insects. Do the insects you see have legs? The pepper weevil is a legged and brown insect that feeds on pepper blossoms. They are particularly a problem in subtropical regions which would include San Diego. Other brown pest insects that attack peppers are thrips, flea beetles, brown stink bugs and aphids (some are brown). There are several ways to control these pests: spray with insecticidal soap or place sticky traps near the peppers; if the infestation is severe spray with pyrethrins or neem oil. You can also look on the undersides of leaves for eggs which you can crush with your fingers.

  56. HELP!! my California wonder green peppers wilt when I put them outside. We have them in containers pots. we live in vermont and it has been cold and raining we bought them at the beginning of may and have brought them outside when the weather is not cold but that seems to be only one day a week. we have them in front of a window inside. they were fine until we put them out today. it is full sun about 69-70 degrees with light wind. about an hour later I looked out at them and they were wilted They have been watered. what am I doing wrong? Please Help!!

    • Pepper plants do not like cold temperatures; temperatures in the 60sF are a bit chilly for peppers. The wilt you see may be related to temperature; the plant is not happy. (Since your pepper is still in a container, make sure the container is large enough for the plant’s roots– it will likely need a 5-gallon container if you do not transplant it into the garden. If the plant is root-bound it may wilt as well.) If outdoor temperatures are not warming, you can grow the plant in a hoop tunnel covered with plastic sheeting. The temperature inside the tunnel will be 5 to 15 degrees warmer than the outdoors depending upon the amount of sun each day. If planting in a hoop tunnel is not feasible, you can set a large tomato cage around the plant and wrap plastic sheeting or wrap around the cage creating a mini-greenhouse.

  57. I have a healthy jalapeno plant with jalapenos on them, today it was windy..I looked outside and all the leaves are gone but jalapenos still on them…what should I do ?

    • The peppers may ripen on the plant but they will also ripen off the plant. You can ripen them on the kitchen counter if you like. Before growing in the same spot again, be sure that future plants will be protected from the wind. This may mean erecting a windbreak using a frame and attaching shade cloth to the frame to break the wind.

  58. I have 8 jalapeno peppers, they are nice and full and do have blooms and some peppers.

    My problem is the peppers are small and round. Some have even turned red. I water every other day if it does not rain.

    The plants are in raised beds. Before planting anything I added cow manure to all of my beds. I have been using 10-10-10. Should I be using the fertilizer I use on my tomatoes instead?

    Also I planted jalapeno peppers in the same bed last year used the same fertilizer and my jalapeno pepper were the perfect pepper shaped and size.

    Help….need them to make salsa my tomatoes are full of big tomatoes and ready to start canning.

    • A fertilizer higher in phosphorus would be a good choice for your peppers and tomatoes; try an organic 5-10-10 fertilizer. Phosphorus promotes fruit development. Pepper turning red is an indication that these peppers are ripening. Once they are full color, pick them and use them; don’t let them sit on the vine past the ripe stage. Many factors can affect fruit development one year to the next. If you are planting in the same bed each year, be sure to renew the nutrients in the soil each spring by adding 2 to 3 inches of aged compost or a commercial organic planting mix. If plants show any sign of disease move peppers to a new bed the following year. The temperature in spring and throughout the season can affect fruit development, so can cloud cover and rain, extreme heat–there are many factors.

    • Pepper fruit development is dependent on several factors. Temperatures too low (below 65F) or too high (greater than 90F) can affect plant cell growth and development. Too little or too much soil moisture can also affect plant cell development–and so can lack of nutrients. Temperature and other environmental factors are often beyond our control. Moisture and nutrients are controllable: keep the soil evenly moist throughout the growing season; do not let it dry out. Check soil moisture 3 t 4 inches below the surface to make sure the soil is just moist. You may want to mulch around plants to slow soil moisture evaporation. Give peppers a regular nutrient boost; feed with compost tea or dilute solution of fish emulsion every 10 days. Protect plants from intense mid-day sun by placing a frame with shade cloth directly above plants. Next season, create larger planting holes and fill the holes with aged compost or commercial organic planting mix before planting.

  59. Live in South Fl. Had white fly on hot pepper plants. Over sprayed with homemade insecticidal soap made of a bit of both oil Dawne and water which caused massive leaf drop. Most fruit still on plants. Should I trim to promote new leaf growth?

    • I am by no means an expert but I’m going to take a stab at this from my own experience.

      First of all, Dawn and most other popular name brand soaps have no real use in the garden. They contain high levels of degreaser and plants are not fond of degreaser as it can damage the outer layer of both the stems and the leaves and kill the plant. Instead, go to the dollar store and get a bottle of their store brand dish soap. It’s terrible for greasy dishes because it has very little to no degreaser, but it’s great for plants when you need to mix oil with water. You can also use Castile soap, which is organic, but it’s rather expensive for what it is.

      Dollar store soap is very weak but that’s good because if you use too much it’s still weak. Typically, in a gallon of water, you should need no more than an ounce of cheap, dollar store soap to allow the water and oil to mix.

      Also, never spray plants in the heat of the day – only very early morning or late evening. However, if oil and/or soap are being used, I recommend evening instead of morning.

  60. My sister’s bell peppers are elongated and thin rather than round. They are planted next to banana peppers. Could they have cross pollinated?

    • Cross-pollination is possible if both of the peppers were open-pollinated varieties. Elongated bell peppers may also be the result of environmental stress or insufficient pollination during the flowering period. Environmental stresses could include too little or too much soil moisture or temperatures greater than 90F for prolonged periods of time.

  61. My Ancho Peppers are loaded with fruit, very healthy. However my peppers are not growing in size. I had the same problem last year. Some peppers even started getting red before they were of good size. I am giving them 3/12/6 Bloom food on a weekly basis. Any other suggestions?

    • Could night or day temperatures be hindering the development of the peppers; if temperatures drop to less than 55F or warmer than 90F for extended days or hours then this could stress the plant and stall full development. So also could soil too wet or too dry. Check the watering–keep the soil evenly moist. Place shade cloth over a frame to shield the plants from hot midday sun–if the weather has been warm. Place clear plastic over the frame or cover the plants with a floating row cover if night or day temperatures are dipping. Peppers can be temperamental especially when the cause of stress is environmental.

  62. I sow some red and yellow pepper from seeds. Sapli gs appeared but overnite d saplings disappeared….looks like the tiny leaves were eaten away .but I cant see any bugs. I live in mumbai where it is pretty humid and this is rainy season. The pepper pot is protected and does not recieve excess rain. It is located in my balcony. What could be d reason

    • There are a few reasons seeds are slow to germinate (and may not germinate): (1) the seed is old; (2) the seed is planted too deep; (3) the seed is not making good contact with the soil; (4) the soil is not moist; (5) the soil temperature is too cold or too warm; (6) the soil is too moist and the seed has rotted; (7) damping-off fungus is in the soil and the seed has been infected. Use this list to help determine if you make the environment for germination better.

  63. My jalapeño plant produces small peppers. The peppers were nice for a while, but now are small. I’m in Florida and weather cooled for a while thru February. Could that be it or is it that the plant is getting old and needs to be replaced? I had a Jamaican bonnet pepper plant that yielded great peppers for years. Wondering if I have to cut the plant back and start over with new growth?

    • Chili peppers demand warm weather–not cooler than 70sF. Growth can be stunted by chilly nights and days. Protect peppers under a plastic tunnel or floating row cover until night temperatures are consistently warm. If the plants are in the garden, mulch with aged compost to add nutrients to the soil; if they are in containers feed the plants a dilute solution of fish emulsion. Peppers can be pruned, but not radically. Clip them to form so that they are not rangy. If you clip away flowers you set back yield for a month or so.

  64. I live in the Phoenix area and have a Shitito pepper plant for years and always had good production and flavorful. This year I have stubby bell shaped small peppers. Do you know what might cause this transformation? It has been rainy and cool this year so far. Any ideas?

    • Temperature and cloud cover can stunt plant and fruit growth. Wet weather can hinder pollination causing small or deformed fruit. If possible erect a clear plastic tunnel or cover over your plant to keep it warm and protect it from wind and rain. Keep the soil evenly moist and give the plant a nutrient boost light on nitrogen. A pepper will grow best when temperatures are between 75 and 85F.

  65. Hi! I’m growing a green bell pepper plant for the first time. The pepper plant now has a black ring around the stem where the pepper is growing out of (but now brown leaves or yellow leaves) and the plant looks healthy. I researched and it says it could be a virus or blight. The pepper is still growing nicely – no spots on it. Should I leave it or should I cut them off? My new ones that are sprouting are getting black rings as well so I’m getting concerned.

    I also made a spray: 1 tablespoon of baking soda + 1/2 teaspoon of dish soap + 1 gallon of water. Can I spray this on the plant? I heard this is good for tomato plants if I see white powdery fungus so I thought it would be good for the pepper plant as well.

    Thank you in advance!

    • The spray formula you have is an anti-fungal so it will not hurt the plants if you spray. If the disease is bacterial or viral, the spray will not be effective However, there is only an upside to spraying if the disease is fungal. Since young plants are being attacked — if you decide to start new plants, use a sterile seed starting mix. The young plants may be suffering from a soilborne disease called damping off (see the article in the Index here). Use a sterile, commercial seed starting mix and potting mix–and be sure your containers are washed with a soapy or bleach solution before planting.

  66. Dear Steve,

    My apparently healthy pepper plant is giving out tiny buds for the first time but the buds turn brown and wilted even before it flowers.. I have added npk 8-8-8 fertiliser not long before.. Now I regretted it.. Too much nitrogen? Or is there any other reason? Please advise.

    • The small buds may have turned brown as a result of the dose of fertilizer; it’s best to add the fertilizer after the fruit has set and to use a lesser amount of nitrogen. It is also possible temperatures lower than 55F injured the young buds. If the plant remains healthy, it will flower again. Use a very low nitrogen fertilizer in the future and protect peppers from temperatures lower than 55 or 60F. Peppers demand very warm temperatures.

  67. I have pepper plants that haven’t even gone outside yet, but they are having problems. One of them (in the same type of potting soil and within inches from the others) has had the leaves getting lighter and lighter in color for a few weeks now. They aren’t yellow, but they seem to be headed that way. The lowest leaves seem to have it the worst. It grew much faster than the other plants to start out, and started budding (I have been pinching them off) a few weeks ago. Could this cause the problem.

    Another one is relatively young, but I noticed last night that it had small, white, almost hair-like particles on both the leaves and the stems. I notice the same thing on my sweet potato slips and one of my two strawberry plants, though I’m not sure if that could be related. There plants were almost a foot away from each other. There are other pepper plants in between them that seem to be unaffected.The strawberry plant was one I got for free from a greenhouse on Saturday.

    Other than these things, all of the plants seem healthy and ready to be hardened off. It is just getting warm enough to stay hardening them off.

    • The white, hair-like particle could be the start of fungal growth. Make sure there is plenty of air circulation around the plants; you can put a small fan nearby to help circulate the air. The air movement will also aid soil moisture evaporation–to be sure fungal growth does not start in the soil. Set all the plants where they can get a maximum amount of light each day; if the weather is keeping the plants indoors for now–place a fluorescent light a few inches above the plants

  68. Hello, I started a few different variety of peppers from seed this year, they germinated, began growing quickly and seemed to be growing very well. They are under grow lights, daytime temp around 75, night around 68. Once they got to about 3 inches tall with 6 to 8 the true leaves some are starting to fall over, I was watering once every 2 days roughly but now cut back as the soil was still moist. It’s as if the tops are too heavy for the stems. It does not seem as damping off is an issue, they seem very healthy. Is there a way I can email you a few pictures to see if you can give me any guidance? Thanks for you help

    • Seedling stems can be strengthened and will grow stout if they are gently brushed a few times each day. Just run a finger or a pencil across the top of the seedlings. An alternative is to place a small fan nearby that provides a gentle breeze over the seedlings. Keep your grow light close to the top of the seedlings so that the seedlings are stretching for the light. You will likely need to adjust the light daily. Do not overwater the seedling–let the top of the soil or mix just dry between watering and be sure the containers are draining.

  69. What about the one that has the leaves turning yellow? I noticed a second one today that seems to be starting the same thing. I also noticed that the veins on the stems seem to be purple, although the ones on the leaves are the same color as the leaves

    • Keep the peppers warm and feed them a dilute solution of fish emulsion which has an NPK of about 3-3-3. Leaves should become green with a modest NPK fertilizer as long as the soil is not too wet or too dry and the temperature stays at or near 70F day and night.

  70. Hi!
    I planted Pasillas and Jalapeno peppers last year. They were abundant but small and a bit dry. I didn’t pull the plants and, once again, I have a lot of peppers but the Pasillas are round and small the size of a grape cherry tomato. What can I do now or maybe for next year?

    • Make sure the soil is humus-rich, add aged compost or commercial organic planting mix to the planting bed. Give the peppers plenty of room for air circulation and sunlight–don’t crowd them. Feed the peppers with a dilute solution of fish emulsion and keep the soil evenly moist throughout the growing season–not wet, but just moist (this will allow fruits to fill out). If the plant is loaded with fruit, nip some off, this will allow the remaining peppers to grow larger.

  71. Live in Canada. Trying to grow Habenero peppers from seed..Have grow lites and heat lamps 85-90 degrees
    Seeds sprouted , but after 3-4 days no secondary growth
    Soil is well drained and lots of organic material .. thoughts

    • Bell peppers can be eaten at any size and color; some cultivars are only green; if you expect that your cultivar will color, it will in time. There is little you can do to rush it along. Check the days to maturity; if reaches the days to maturity and has not turned color then harvest it anyway and serve.

  72. I planted mesilla hybrid seeds that I removed from a pepper. What has grown looks like a bunch of weeds. Purplish bass to the stems that turns greener to full green as you rise up the stem. Leaves are almost weed like: long and thin. Has anyone experienced this or know what’s causing this?

    • Hybrid seeds commonly do not grow true. Characteristics often revert those of past parent or parents in the lineage. If you want harvest seed and replant in the next season, save seed from an open-pollinated variety.

  73. Hello, I purchased a grafted jalapeño plant and it is starting to produce some small jalapeños, but they have little raised black bumps on their skin. I observed the bumps from what appeared to be flower skin being left on it as it grew through the flower. Will those bumps go away as the jalapeños mature, or are they something else and unsafe to eat?

    • If the bumps are bits of flower petals that stuck to the developing fruit they can be eaten. In spring rain or dew can cause flower petals to stick to the skin of developing fruit; that is not unusual. If you suspect the bumps are not bits of flower, then your fruit could have a fungal or bacterial disease–in which case, you would not want to eat those fruits. Fungal and bacterial diseases commonly spread into the tissue and soon the fruit will have mushy soft spots.

  74. I live in North Carolins. I have two large gardens and have no trouble in them. In one raised bed I have planted a number of pepper plants,
    Some critter is eating them from Underground roots, stems and leaves. In one instance only a few of the top leaves were left sticking out of the hole, it was an plant about 16″ tall. What type of rodent would be doing this and how can I irradicate the problem?

    • Gopher, woodchuck, ground squirrel, vole–there are several animals that could eat roots, stems, and leaves. Check at a nearby garden center for reports on the most common pests in your area. Live traps and repellents can keep these pests out of the garden, also lethal traps and poison.

  75. I had a aphids infestation on my jalapeño plants and used soapy water to get rid of them. Two days later the leaves began to fall off. Any suggestions on how to recover the plants?

    • Always test pesticides/insecticides on a few leaves before spraying the entire plant. If the plant is not severely damaged it will re-leaf in 10 to 14 days; you can feed it a dilute solution of fish emulsion to pep it up.

  76. What’s the best way to prevent anthracnose?
    We normally do sprays and rake of after each harvest, but it still keeps coming back.
    Another question, got some lay flat bag that is about 10 inches tall in one field, and some 3 gallons bags in another field, however they both started off great, when rainy reason came, and layflt bags production drops like 10 time lower, but the 3 gallons bags this bushing productions, why is that?

    • Anthracnose is a fungal disease; cool and wet weather promotes its development and the optimum temperature for the continued growth of the spores is 78F to 86F; there is little you can do to change the weather if that is a contributing factor. Anthracnose overwinters in the garden soil and in diseased plant residue; it is spread by rain, animals, gardeners, and tools; you can keep the garden and tools clean; you may want to rotate crops to a new spot where the infection has not lingered. Finally, be sure to use disease-free seed, preferably western grown (the disease occurs predominately in the eastern states). Regarding the bag: be sure the bags are well-drained and are not retaining water.

    • If the peppers have been light green from the fruit set, feed the plant with an all-purpose fertilizer 10-10-10. If the fruit was darker green an is not turning light green it may indicate the onset of coloration.

  77. 3 of my bell pepper plants all have fruit that is shaped like pumpkins. fruit has great green color and smell nothing strange except the fruit shape. I have 16 plants and only 3 are doing this. I just wondered why? I know how to sex bell peppers but no clue how to do this to these. Makes deciding what to make with them lol

    • There could be several reasons for the unusual shape of the bell peppers–environmental factors such as temperature, water uptake, soil composition–all could contribute. Rutgers University agronomists developed a pumpkin-shaped chili pepper after discovering some pepper crosses in nature. Perhaps your peppers are crosses.