Skip to main content

Common plant diseases to watch out for in your pepper plants

Peppers are a fun way to add color and flavor to your vegetable garden and meals. There are tons of different varieties of peppers to choose from, but no matter which variety you grow, you’ll want to look out for plant diseases and fungal infections. The best course of action is to get pepper seeds that are naturally resistant to these diseases, but if you’ve already gotten your seeds or need to know how to keep your existing pepper plant safe and healthy, don’t worry. We’ll tell you all about some of the most common pepper diseases, how to identify them, and what you can do to prevent or treat them.

Mosaic virus

Mosaic virus is a potentially devastating virus for pepper plants, as there isn’t any real treatment for it once your plant becomes infected. Mosaic virus is named for the light green pattern it causes on leaves, which resemble a mosaic or a stained glass window. It also stunts plant growth, leading to small, curling leaves and less fruit.

Although there aren’t any treatments for mosaic virus, there are things you can do to prevent it. It’s spread by aphids, so any pest control methods you would use to keep aphids away will help keep your pepper plants free of mosaic virus. Regularly weeding your garden gets rid of the aphids’ hiding places, and an insecticidal soap or capsaicin spray can dissuade aphids from biting without hurting your plant.

Mosaic virus pattern on leaves
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Anthracnose

Anthracnose is a fungal infection that affects every plant in the Solanaceae (or nightshade) family, including peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, and potatoes (although potatoes don’t get anthracnose in exactly the same way). It can live in the soil, waiting for an opportunity to infect plants, or it can be carried in the seeds you get. Getting your seeds from a reputable source can reduce the risk of getting infected seeds. Otherwise, soaking your seeds for half an hour in hot water can kill any fungal spores that may have hitched a ride on them. If the fungus is in your soil, it can spread to your plant through water or wet foliage. Regularly weed your garden and avoid getting the leaves and fruit of your plant wet when watering them.

Anthracnose specifically targets the fruit of the plant. It begins as a small dip, which then develops a darker center. As it spreads, the pepper begins to rot. Finally, the spot produces yellow spores, which can spread to other peppers through water.

A small pile of peppers with anthracnose
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Southern blight

Southern blight is a warm weather fungal infection, caused by a fungus that can live dormant in the soil for a long time. Pepper plants infected with southern blight turn yellow, then brown, and can rot or wilt entirely. It can also be identified by the white mycelial mat that forms on the stem, which resembles a thick spider web. The best way to reduce the risk of your pepper plant becoming infected is to increase the airflow in your garden. This means spacing your plants out and being diligent in your weeding. Watering from below, so that the foliage and fruit of your pepper plant don’t get wet, is also a big help.

A pepper with blossom end rot
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Blossom-end rot

Blossom-end rot begins as a small wet spot on the side of the pepper fruit that used to be the bloom (the opposite end from where the stem attaches). The spot darkens and spreads outward from there, and, if left alone, can take up half the pepper. Blossom-end rot is caused by a calcium deficiency in the pepper plant, which can be due to either a lack of calcium in the soil or the plant being unable to use what calcium is in the soil. The solution to a soil deficiency is to add calcium to the soil. The main cause of pepper plants being unable to absorb calcium from the soil is a water shortage. So the best way to prevent blossom-end rot in your pepper plant is to test your soil to keep track of calcium levels and to make sure it has plenty of water.

These are four of the most common health problems pepper plants can have. In general, keep an eye out for any sudden changes in your plants, especially in color, size, or texture. Pepper plants can recover from most problems if they’re caught early, but it’s even better if you can prevent the problems in the first place. By following the tips outlined here, you can help your pepper plants thrive, ensuring a tasty and colorful harvest.

Editors' Recommendations

Cayla Leonard
Cayla Leonard is a writer from North Carolina who is passionate about plants.  She enjoys reading and writing fiction and…
Does vinegar kill weeds? How to use your favorite household cleaning product in your garden
Everything you need to know about using vinegar to tackle unwanted weeds
Glass bottle labeled vinegar on table

Whether you're a seasoned or novice gardener, there's a good chance that you've heard about using vinegar as a weed killer. Since many gardeners are interested in using natural alternatives to harsh commercial herbicides, vinegar has become a go-to for removing pesky weeds. But does vinegar kill weeds effectively? Is it really the miracle weed killer that DIY enthusiasts make it out to be? Vinegar can, in fact, help with weed management, but it has both pros and cons as a natural herbicide. Here's what you need to know about using vinegar in the garden.
What makes vinegar an effective weed killer?

Vinegar is essentially a solution of acetic acid with water — the vinegar that you buy at the grocery store is typically 5% acetic acid and 95% water. Acetic acid kills plants by damaging their cells. Upon contact with acetic acid, cell walls break down, which leaks plant fluid and dries out plants. You want to be careful about applying vinegar to your landscape, since it will likely kill any plant tissue upon contact, including foliage that you're actively growing.
How do you create a DIY vinegar weed killer?

Read more
What herbs can be planted together? How to plan your herb garden
Keep these tips in mind for arranging your plants when planning your garden space
A crate full of harvested herbs

There are so many useful and delicious herbs you can grow in your garden, but figuring out how to arrange them can be tricky. Companion planting charts can help you choose companion plants if you already have a few herbs picked out, but what if you aren’t sure where to start? This guide will help you decide what herbs can be planted together in your garden. The best companion plants have similar care requirements, so find the section that best matches your garden and get ready to plant.
Herbs for dry gardens

If the area you have set aside for your herb garden is in full or majority sun with dry or well-draining soil, then you’ll likely need some drought-tolerant herbs. Rosemary and lavender are two of the most commonly planted herbs for this type of garden, and luckily, they pair well with many other herbs. Oregano, sage, and thyme make excellent companion plants for each other, as well as both rosemary and lavender.

Read more
What’s a French drain? A fantastic way to rid your garden of excess water
Build your own French drain with these tips
A person digging into grass with a garden fork

All plants need some amount of water, but they also all have a limit. Too much water can be even worse than too little water in some cases. During rainy weather, if water is pooling in parts of your garden it could spell disaster for your plants. Luckily, there are ways to drain the extra water away from your garden and direct it elsewhere. This simple guide to French drains will explain everything you need to know to answer the question, "What is a French drain?" and to learn about installation and maintenance.
What is a French drain?

As the name implies, a French drain is a type of drainage system. Think of it as a reverse irrigation channel; rather than carrying water to thirsty plants, it takes water away from drowning ones. The system itself is fairly simple. You put a pipe in a trench, which slopes away from the garden toward a storm drain, drainage ditch, or rain barrel.

Read more