Browning Pepper Leaves: Why Are Leaves Turning Brown On Pepper Plants

By: Amy Grant

As with every crop, peppers are susceptible to environmental stress, nutrient imbalances, and pest or disease damage. It’s important to assess damage and diagnose it immediately in order to formulate a plan of action. One of the more common problems found on peppers is brown pepper plant foliage. Browning pepper leaves may be the result of any of the above. Keep reading to find out what causes a pepper plant with brown leaves and how to remedy leaves turning brown on pepper plants.

Reasons Pepper Leaves are Turning Brown

Browning pepper leaves may be the result of environmental conditions such as frost damage/chilling injury. Usually, this type of injury will encompass the entire plant. That is, not only the leaves, but the entire plant may become discolored and wilted. Also, the inside of any fruit will become brown as well.

If leaves are turning brown on your pepper plants, it may also be because you forgot to water them. When leaves get brown and crumble, especially when accompanied by the dropping of leaves and the drooping of the plant, it’s likely that the plant is under watered. Be sure to water properly and routinely by watering at the base of the plant, deeply once or twice per week and mulching around it with organic mulch such as straw or shredded leaves.

If neither of these seems to be the cause of your pepper leaves turning brown, it’s time to consider some other possibilities.

More Serious Causes of Brown Pepper Plant Foliage

Some insects can result in a pepper plant with brown leaves. Whiteflies, for instance, suck juices from the plant and weaken it, resulting in wilting leaves that turn yellow followed by browning. You’ll know it’s whitefly if you give the plant a little shake and a cloud of tiny insects flies up. Use Tanglefoot insect barrier spread on a yellow card to trap the whiteflies and spray the plant with insecticidal soap.

Another insect that may cause foliage to brown is the thrip. It’s not actually the insect that is causing the discoloration, but a virus called spotted wilt that is spread by it. Keep the area around the plants free from weeds which host thrips and remove any infected leaves or completely destroy severely infected plants.

Some fungal diseases may cause foliage to discolor or turn brown. These are spread by splashing water or by tools and your hands as you move around in the garden. Avoid overhead watering and working in the garden when plants are wet from rain. Don’t plant peppers or tomatoes in the same place more than once in a 3- to 4-year time period. Spray with copper sulfate at the first signs of infection. Remove severely infected plants and burn them. Clean up all plant debris.

The last possible reason for a pepper plant with brown leaves is bacterial spot. This bacterial disease is one of the most destructive diseases of peppers. It initially appears as water soaked lesions on leaves that turn brown and irregular in shape. The spots appear raised on the underside of the leaves and sunken on the upper side. Affected leaves then yellow and drop. Fruit may have raised scab-like spots or water soaked lesions that turn brown.

Bacterial leaf spot is transmitted on infected seeds and transplants grown from infected seed. There is no known cure. Prune away infected leaves and practice good sanitation in the garden and with tools. If plants appear to be severely infected, remove and destroy the plants.

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Pepper Plant Leaves Curling

As seen above, the curling of leaves is caused by stress in your plant. There are simple ways to deal with the stress on the plant. But first, it is essential to identify exactly what is causing the stress, thus making it easy to deal with the issue straight away.


The worst thing you can do to a pepper plant is to overwater it. Overwatering causes the leaves to curl as the root won’t be getting enough oxygen and nutrients to supply to the leaves.

Apart from the curl leaves, overwatering causes yellowing of leaves and slows the plant’s growth. Therefore, pepper plants prefer dry soil.

Ensure you water the plant when the soil is dry. You can test the soil dryness by checking the moisture below the top layer’s surface, lifting the pot to feel the weight.

At the same time, pepper should not be left dry for a long time as it causes it to wilt. The good part is once you water the plant, it rebounds.

The Plant Edema

Plant Edema is a plant disorder caused when the water is irregularly retained. At first, the pepper plant will seam whitish and crystallized under the leaves. When the disorder is extreme leaves start to curl.

To deal with this issue, ensure the soil, and potting mixes can drain quickly. Avoid overusing fertilizers. Also, reducing the humidity will help the plant recover from the plant Edema condition.

Plant-Calcium Deficiency

Plant-Calcium is an essential nutrient in the growth of pepper. It helps in the development of healthy cell walls. When pepper plants lack the required amount of plant-calcium, the leaves don’t develop correctly, and they also start to curl. Apart from that, the leaves can start having brown spots and become yellow.

To curb this issue, you need to provide calcium to the plant by adding plant-calcium supplements. Calcium can, at times, be included in fertilizers. Check the ingredients of the fertilizer to ensure it has calcium.

Also, some potting mixes may include calcium, which will help in growth. Confirm to see the soil nutrients on the soil to add the nutrients that are missing. If you are planting the pepper on the ground, add all the nutrients needed to get a healthy plant.

Light Intensity

Light is needed in the growth of a pepper plant. Pepper enjoys full sunlight all through the day and season.

If the plant is indoors, it is not getting all the light intensity, thus affecting it. You can solve the issue by providing the right light intensity either by using the collect bulb or placing it in a position it gets direct sunlight. Also, you take the crop outdoors for it to recover faster.

If the plant is indoors and too close to the light fixture, it could be an issue. The leaves could be rebelling from the close light intensity by curling. If you don’t move the plant, it will dry, and the leaves will drop.

The light intensity most often affects young tender plants. So when dealing with the seedling, be extra careful.

Adjust the light and take it a few inches higher. Put the light 12-18 inches away from the plant. The light should be on for 12-16 hours, and for the Rest part of the day, it should be off.

Suppose the plant has outdoor water at dawn or dusk as the beads on the water can reflect the sunlight and burn the plant. In this case, the burns are dark on the leaves and not the curl. When you move your plant outdoors, you may notice the curl as the plant adapts to the direct sunlight, but it will recover with time.

Insect Damage

The insect can be the cause of the curling leaves. They come from nowhere and attack the plant. When the insect attacks the plants, they attack some parts of the leaves and leave the rest in most cases. So if you notice curling in some leaves, then it is the insect, but then the problem might be something else when it is all the leaves.

Dealing with pests once they attack is a bit hard as compared to preventing them from attacking. The solution is handpicking the affected leaves and burning them to get rid of the insects entirely. You can also bring a ladybug as it feeds on the pest and helps get rid of the pest.

Use neem oil on either the soil or spray directly to the foliage to prevent pests from attacking the plant. The leaves may take time to recover from the pest attack even after all the pests are gone. But the new leaves that will be sprouting will be healthy.

Environmental Stress

Another cause of your pepper leaves curling is the environment you are growing the plant in. If your environment does not meet the nutritional and weather condition, plants will not grow as expected.

During hot days, temperatures are often high, causing your pepper leaves to curl. This is primarily during the middle days of summer. This theory’s logic is that when the winds blow over your pepper plants, they cause environmental stress. Strong winds, scorching ones, lower humidity. Your pepper plants will curl their leaves as a defense mechanism.

For the farmers who compost in their homes, it will help if you avoid adding plant material that has been treated with herbicides to your compost pile. The herbicide remnants will end up in your pepper plant’s spoil.

Whenever you observe that your plants are curling their leaves only when it is hot, water them. Watering the plants during hot days increases the moisture content around their roots, reducing the need to curl their leaves. The plant tissue will also remain more relaxed, and the plant will grow faster and healthier.

Gardeners sometimes contribute to adding environmental stress unconsciously. When you spray your plants with herbicides, they may also cause your pepper leaves to curl. You may not be spraying the pepper plants themselves to cause this stress. If it’s windy, the herbicides will land on the pepper leaves. Runoff is another way herbicides end up in the pepper plants’ space.

Cultural Damage

Over the years, people have developed their own cultures in farming. These cultures include various aspects, such as pruning. In the case of growing pepper plants, excess pruning causes curling of the remaining leaves.

If you are not careful when pruning, you will remove more leaves from the pepper plant than necessary. The result is usually straining the remaining leaves to meet the plant’s photosynthesis needs. It is better to prune your pepper plants for a few days rather than pruning at once, leaving them with fewer leaves than is required.

Transplant Shock

Whenever you transplant a plant, remove it from its original environment to create a new one. It is essential to give your plant a few days to get accustomed to the new environment before you begin getting concerned.

At times you may damage the plant roots as you uproot them for transplanting. When the plant is in shock, it is normal for it to curl its leaves. Your pepper leaves will be back to their usual selves with patience and the right conditions without curling.

Leaf Spot

Also known as bacterial leaf spot, leaf spot first shows itself as brown and greenish-yellow spots on the leaves and the fruit. Mature leaves may have a watery-looking spot that turns brown and rust colored when it dries out. These watery spots may also appear on peppers if the bacteria attacks the plant after fruiting begins. The leaf spot bacteria can live in soil or seeds. To prevent it from spreading or occurring, remove all infected plants and do not let the leaves or debris stay on the ground, as the bacteria can live in the soil over winter. Buy seeds that have been treated for leaf spot bacteria to further reduce the risk. After planting, further minimize risk by watering only at the base of the plant. Water that stays on the pepper plant’s leaves, stems and fruit increases the risk of infection.

Wrapping It Up

Seeing black spots on your pepper leaves can indicate a form of the disease which you have to remedy immediately. If the spots are overbearing, then it may be time to dispose of the plant and evaluate the soil quality and kill off some pests and bacteria. That way, it won’t affect any future plants in your garden.

I hope that this article explained to you why you may find tiny black spots on pepper leaves. Now that you know the answer, learn more about what else your pepper plants may be susceptible to!

Watch the video: Pepper Plant Leaves Turning Yellow? Common Causes u0026 Solutions - Pepper Geek

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