Pepper Plant Diseases and Problems

There is something fantastically rewarding about growing your own fruit and vegetables. Some are easier to grow than others. Beans are easy, you just need to defend them from pests, strawberries are even easier, peas grow fast and well and do not fall prey to many pests.

That is why when it comes to growing your own peppers, you may hope that they will be as easy to grow as beans, strawberries, and peas. However, it is not always so.

It will not always work perfectly, and some years your harvest may be much less than you hoped. Plant diseases can sneak in, and there are plenty of other problems for you to be aware of too. 

Hence, today, we will talk with you about some of the most common problems you will have with pepper plants, and how you can prevent issues like these in the future. Some diseases are irreversible. But, luckily, some other issues can be dealt with in just one single growing season. While your harvest this year may be shoddy, your next will be better if you can deal with the issue now. 

We haven’t got an exhaustive list of the diseases and problems here, but we do have a list of the most common issues you will usually find in your pepper plant, so that you can narrow down what your issue probably is, and fix it. 

Let's take a look. 

The Problems

Below is a list of the most common pepper plant problems that you will encounter, they range from diseases to invasive insects, to typical plant problems that you could witness in any plant. 

For each problem we will discuss what the issue is, how to identify it and the solutions to resolving it, and saying goodbye to your pepper plant problem. 

Dealing with Bacterial Leaf Spots

Bacterial pepper plant leaf spots are a very common bacterial plant infection, this issue is seen worldwide. It is very common in rainy, humid and warm climates. So, if you experience very rainy, humid and warm summers then you may find this happens to your plants in the summer months. These conditions are the perfect set-up for the bacteria that causes these issues to spread the easiest. 

Leaf spot bacteria can be spread by touch, or even by seeds or soil. You should use clean coil and pristine watering habits to avoid any splash on the leaves with soil, and to avoid cross contamination. 


If you think that your plant may have leaf spots, then there are a few ways that you can identify this.

  • You will see yellow and green spots on the leaves of your plant. 
  • In later stages, these spots will turn brown. 
  • There can also be raised and corky spots on the peppers. 
  • The leaves will drop, and the peppers will decay.

How can I resolve this issue? 

  • The first thing you can do is remove the infected areas. As with pepper plants, and in fact, any plants that are infected with a virus, you should remove any part of the plant that is showing signs of leaf spots. 

The bacteria could easily spread, especially under damp and hot conditions. You will not need to remove the whole plant from your garden, unless it is completely covered and therefore unsalvageable. 

  • Just like with people, the more nutrition you get, the healthier you are and the better off you can fight infections. Plants are the same, so provide enough fertilizer to your plant. With enough proper nutrition, your pepper plants fight off the bacteria.

This applies to all living things. The healthier we are, the faster we can fight off any bacteria fast. If you have affected plants, provide a high-quality fertilizer consistently, and your plant may be able to get rid of the issue on its own. 

  • Bacterial spots are not typically fungal, however, fungal treatment can help. So you can spray the plant with a natural fungicide. Use a copper based fungicide as a foliar spray in the morning or late evening to help the reduction of the infection spreading. 
  • While water in necessary, be sure to avoid wetting the leaves when you are watering your plant. Water is very necessary for the spores to multiply and spread on the plants leaves. SO, you should always water at the base of the plant to avoid the leaves getting wet and the infection spreading. 
  • Despite how gardening is not a typically clean task, try to be as clean as possible when you are gardening. As is with any bacterial or viral pathogen. You need to be clean. If you can, you should use gloves when you handle your plants and avoid touching them one after another, this will help to prevent the spread of the bacteria. 

The Mosaic Virus

Next, we want to look at another very common issue in pepper plants, the mosaic virus. There are a few different types of the mosaic virus, and once a plant is infected, there is no going back. Some pepper varieties are resistant to the tobacco mosaic virus, whereas none are resistant to the cucumber mosaic virus. 

This virus is borne either by seeds or soil, and it is spread by sap sucking insects such as aphids. It can also be spread by contact with infected plants, and this issue is at its peak in dry weather. 


So, how can you tell if your plant is suffering from mosaic virus? If your plant is affected, then you will need to get rid of it to prevent your other plants also becoming infected, this is why identification is key. 

  • Your plant may develop green and yellow mottled leaves. 
  • The surface of the fruits may be prickly, or bumpy. 
  • The growth of your plant may be stunted. 
  • The production of peppers will be low. 

How can I resolve this issue? 

  • If you notice one of your plants has the mosaic virus, then you need to remove the plant quickly. There is no effective treatment for this virus, so if you suspect that your plant has this, remove it, or even burn it. The fruits will still be safe for consumption, however the seeds can carry the virus, so you should not save the seeds from an affected fruit. 
  • Mosaic viruses are usually spread by sap sucking insects such as aphids, so you will need to keep pests at bay. If you spot these pests on any of your plants, use a pure neem oil solution with soap and water and spray the plants to get these pests gone. 
  • Weeds are also at fault here, many weeds can carry mosaic viruses, and they can also function as a breeding ground for the insects that typically spread it. You can use a ground cover, or at the very least keep the weeds at bay with a wedding hoe. 
  • Whenever you are gardening, always wash your hands between touching plants. Your hands can work as a transport system for viral pathogens, and you could unintentionally transfer pathogens from one plant to another. You should also avoid smoking in your garden too as the smoke from your cigarette can introduce mosaic virus to the soil. 
  • There are some varieties that have been identified as resistant to the tobacco mosaic virus, although none are resistant to the cucumber mosaic and other viruses. You can plant varieties that are labelled ‘TMV’, which means ‘tobacco mosaic resistant’. Some of the most common pepper plants that are resistant to tobacco mosaic virus are; jalapeño, sweet banana, bell boy hybrid, and sweet cayenne. 


Next, we look at a pepper plant disease that is spread by soil borne pathogens, phytophthora blight. If your plant happens to have leaves that are low on the main stem, then the rainfall can cause the soil to splash up onto the foliage and spread the disease. 

There are many types of blight, they are often categorized as either early blight, or late blight. The symptoms are similar either way, however some are more common in different corners of the world, at different times of the growing season. 

There are many other plant varieties that are at risk to blight, including tomatoes, eggplants, beans and all types of squash plants. 


There are plenty of symptoms that will help you to identify if your plant is suffering blight. 

  • Large and brown leaf spots, as well as wilting. 
  • If the stems at the base of the plant are brown or black. 
  • Root rot, which typically results in the death of the plant. 
  • Fruit rotting, which usually happens in contact with infected soil. 

How can I resolve this issue? 

  • A good way to prevent any issues is to plant your peppers in a raised bed, or in pots rather than directly in the ground. Blight is most commonly found in in-ground gardens or fields. Rainfall has less time to sit on the surface and therefore to spread the pathogen in raised beds, or in a planter.

If you cannot use a raised bed or a pot, then you can always mound up the soil around each plant to avoid standing water at the base of the plant. Use the soil itself to raise the plant up, so it is higher than typical ground level growing. 

  • You can also use a ground cover such as black tarp, mulch, or straw. This will help to prevent any splashing from the soil onto your pepper plants leaves when it rains. It will also have other benefits such as subduing weeds and improved water retention. 
  • If the weather is dry, then resist over-watering your garden. Standing water is the only way that blight mold spores can multiply and spread. Therefore, wherever the infected water flows, the spores will follow in turn. 
  • Finally, be sure to always get your soil and compost from trustworthy sources. If you bring infected soil into the garden, then this is the easiest way to end up with issues in your pepper plants. 

Verticillium wilting

This is a bacterial wilt, it is an issue that can affect pepper plants, and many other vegetables. It is commonly found in places that used to be tobacco fields, and it can be very destructive to entire crops if it is not caught early enough. It is very common in the south-east United States.

These bacteria plug up the vascular tissue of the plant, which then makes it impossible for water to be transferred throughout the plant. Typically, pepper plants that are infected with verticillium wilt begin wilting on one side of the plant firstly.

Then, as these bacteria grow, the whole plant will collapse and die. At first sight of this issue, you should tackle this problem immediately to avoid the death of your plants. 


  • Leaves will yellow and wilt, often on one side at first. 
  • Inner tissues of the stems will turn brown. 
  • Noticing fully collapsed/ dead plants. 

How can I resolve this issue? 

  • The most common reason for this problem is simply watering, often not enough. Although, you should not react to wilting, by assuming it is a bacterial wilt and rip up your plant. Try adding a bit of water first, and if the issue is not solved within a few hours, investigate further. 
  • If you are sure that it is not a lack of water, remove the affected plants, as you do not want the infection to spread to your other plants.
  • Be cautious of pests, such as cucumber beetles and other insects that can spread bacteria from one plant to another. Identify and control these pests and others in order to prevent bacterial wilt from spreading in your garden. 
  • An effective method for getting rid of bacterial wilt is to add beneficial bacteria into the soil. It is best suited for professional farmers who grow many vegetables. 

Pests and Infestations

If you have ever grown anything, then you will know pests can cause a lot of damage to any plant. Despite all the diseases and viruses they can bring, even on their own they are a destructive force. Thankfully, there are plenty of resolves and preventative measures that you can take to these pests; aphids, spider mites, and thrips will otherwise destroy your pepper plant. 


  • Visible pests under leaves, on the stems (check the whole plant.) 
  • Damage to the leaves. 
  • Dark spots on the leaves. 

How can I resolve this issue? 

Which type of pest you have will often determine the solution. You can simply remove the pests in some cases, however some others will come in large numbers and will be very small. So, figure which type of pest you have first. 

  • Pests such as aphids and other sap sucking insects do not have a very tight grip of your plant, so by spraying the plant with water you can knock a great deal of them off of the plant. While it is not a permanent solution, it can slow them down while you figure out a more permanent fix.
  • Spraying your plant with neem oil also works. Use a solution of 1 tbsp neem oil to 1 tbsp of Castile soap, and 6 cups of water. It kills active pests and deters new ones. 
  • If you are crafty, you can also introduce some ladybugs. They are the predator of many pests, especially aphids. They will often eat your pests for you, and also provide a new aesthetic to your garden too. 

Yellowing of the leaves

One of the most common issues with pepper plants, and many others, is yellowing leaves. Even though it is not severe, you still need to correct this. 


  • Yellow leaves. 
  • Leaf veins turning yellow. 
  • Leaves that are falling off. 

How do I resolve this issue?

The solutions will depend on the cause. 

  • Nitrogen is needed by all plants, it will  help them to grow big and strong leaves. Ensure that you are fertilizing enough and that it contains enough nitrogen. If the issue is nitrogen, the yellow leaves will start at the base of the plant. 
  • Ensure you provide magnesium and calcium. Magnesium deficiency causes chlorosis when severe, this will cause the veins to be green but all else is yellow. Use a calcium-magnesium spray, or soil amendments such as bone meal when you plant your peppers. 
  • The issue may also be overwatering. Be sure you only provide water when necessary. Pepper prefers to be a bit dry. You can always use a moisture meter to monitor how much moisture is present.

Blossom end rot

This is common in tomatoes and sweet peppers, caused by a lack of calcium. It makes the fruit unable to develop a skin. This will cause the fruit to develop a dark, soft spot or two on the base of the fruit, inviting mold to grow and making the fruit inedible.


  • Soft spots on the base of the pepper. 
  • Shrivelled/dead skin. 
  • Mold. 

How can I resolve this issue? 

  • Peppers need calcium to properly grow skin. You can resolve this issue by simply adding calcium. You can add a cal-mag spray, bone meal, or fertilize regularly with a solution that contains calcium.