By: Teo Spengler
Happy, healthy pepper plants have deep green leaves attached to the stems. If you see leaves dropping from pepper plants, you should act quickly to prevent serious damage and to save your crop. Read on for additional information on pepper plant leaf drop and the many possible reasons for falling pepper leaves.
Leaf Drop in Pepper Plants
When you see pepper leaves falling off young plants, you have to figure out what is causing the problem. Generally, it is either the result of incorrect cultural practices or else pest or disease issues.
To thrive, pepper plants need a very sunny planting location and moist soil with good drainage. If they lack either of these elements, you may see leaves dropping from pepper plants.
Pepper plants grow happily in regions with warm summers. If the temperatures fall below 60 degrees Fahrenheit (16 C.) during a chilly evening or a cold snap, you may see pepper leaves falling off the plant stems.
While you can’t control the temperature of an outdoor garden, you can be sure to plant peppers in an area that gets full sun in your garden. This is likely to be the warmest location even when temperatures drop a little.
Overwatering and Underwatering
Both overwatering and underwatering can result in pepper plant leaf drop. You should water mature plants once or twice a week, no more, no less. Don’t run for the hose in the heat of the day if you see the pepper leaves wilting. Leaves naturally droop a little at this time, but they don’t need water.
Excess watering can cause the plants to get root rot. In that case, you are sure to see pepper leaves falling off the plants. But failure to provide the weekly inch of irrigation can lead to drought conditions. That also will cause falling pepper leaves.
Pepper plant leaf drop can result from too much nitrogen-heavy fertilizer. Even adding fertilizer to the planting hole can burn the plant.
Pests and Disease
If your pepper plants are infested by aphids, these pests will suck the juices from pepper foliage. The result is pepper leaves falling off the plants. Control aphids by bringing in predator insects like ladybugs. Alternatively, prevent aphid caused leaf drop in pepper plants by spraying with insecticidal soap.
Both fungal and bacterial infections also cause leaf drop in pepper plants. Inspect the leaves dropping from pepper plants. If they yellow or shrivel before dropping, suspect a fungal infection. Prevent fungal infections by spacing your plants correctly and keeping water off leaves and stems when irrigating.
When the falling pepper leaves have brown or black spots, the plants may suffer from a bacterial infection. In this case, you should destroy the infected plants to prevent the spread of the infection to garden neighbors.
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Why are my ornamental pepper plants dropping their leaves? - Knowledgebase Question
|Sorry, when I asked this question before, I forgot to include that they were ornamental pepper plants that I planted in containers and they are dropping their leaves. The soil is moist and but no soggy and I believe they are getting enough sun but I do live in south Texas close to the border and it has been really hot. However, the soil is still moist in the planters. Thanks for your time.|
Overwatering can also cause leaves to yellow and drop. Gardeners can kill their plants with kindness during hot, dry weather by watering too much, too frequently. Many plants look a little wilted during the heat of the day - they curl their leaves slightly to minimize moisture loss through transpiration during very hot weather - but recover when the sun sets. Watering them even more when they appear wilted can lead to root rot. Apply the water to soil as much as possible, rather then dousing the plant. This puts it at the root system where it is needed, and keeps the foliage as dry as possible to reduce the incidence of disease problems.
If you apply high nitrogen fertilizers - especially during hot weather when the plants are under drought stress - you can burn them, which will also cause leaf drop.
Although you do not mention any kind of spots on the leaves or fruits, peppers are susceptible to a number of diseases that can cause the leaves to yellow and drop prematurely. These include cercospora leaf spot, a fungal disease whose symptoms include round or oblong spots on the leaves and stems. These spots often have light gray centers with dark brown borders. Infected leaves turn yellow and drop when the disease is severe.
There is an ideal temperature range for development of pepper plants. Outside of this range, their growth will slow down, due to an inability to properly absorb nutrients or regulate water levels. Pepper plants may even drop their fruit if the stress becomes too great.
Temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit can cause pepper plants to drop their fruit. If the soil is too cold, pepper plants may also have difficulty absorbing nutrients from the soil, which can lead to slow growth.
To keep your pepper plants warm, you can use row covers. A row cover is a piece of plastic or fabric that is used to cover an entire row of plants. A row cover will protect plants from cold, wind, and pests. For more information, check out my article on how to protect plants from cold and frost.
The fabric or plastic you use should allow sunlight to get through to the plants. The row cover should also be breathable – this means you will need small holes in a plastic row cover.
If you use cages or stakes to support your pepper plants, you can use them as a support for your row covers. You can purchase Agribon row covers online at places like Johnny’s Selected Seeds.
If temperatures are above 95 degrees Fahrenheit during the day or 75 degrees Fahrenheit at night, your pepper plants may start to drop their fruit.
Unfortunately, there is not much you can do to keep your plants cool during a heat wave. You can try spraying them with cold water during the day, but it is really a waiting game if there is a severe heat wave.
By now, you should have a better idea of what is causing the leaves to fall off of your pepper plant. You might also have some new information to help you combat the problem in the future.
I hope you found this article helpful – if so, please share it with someone who can use the information. If you have any questions or advice about pepper plants losing their leaves, please leave a comment below.
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