There are several types of pepper plants, from the sweet red or green bell peppers, like Californian Wonder, to dwarf peppers to spicy chili peppers. All of these plants need heat to germinate and thrive, so it is often a greenhouse crop.
If your pepper plant is located indoors, then the culprit must be close by. If the plant is in a greenhouse environment, then check the complete list below. The answer is definitely a live creature and could be any from this list:
A slug is a very likely culprit!
Check the back of the leaves, check under the pot and see if you can find a slimy body looking suspicious! Follow the silver lines slugs leave behind. If you find one, well done! Add the offender to your compost heap where it will do more good than harm.
A snail, like a slug, will leave slimy trails to identify where it is hiding. Snails often have a whole family in tow, so if you find one ensure you do a really thorough search for any members of its family too.
A caterpillar is next on the list
In pots outdoors, butterflies visit everything so one may just have laid some eggs on the underside of a pepper leaf plant. These are tiny, round circular shapes that vary in color, depending on the insect. Has your pepper plant been outside?
Is the greenhouse door open in the daytime? If so, this could be it. You probably won’t notice until the damage is done as the hungry caterpillars double their weight in a month munching your leaves. Unless you have a child naturalist n the family, you will probably want to find them and move them to a plant outside to feed on something else!
Whitefly, thrips, and aphids are also pests that specifically target peppers
Make a mixture of water and dish soap, which you can spray directly on the leaves to remove these creatures. Then wipe down leaves with a sponge or soft cloth.
Red Spider mite in a greenhouse could easily make its home on the back of the leaves of a pepper plant. These insects are the scourge of the greenhouse, making spider-like webs from which they take their name. They cause damage and thrive in warm greenhouses. See more about how to control them in the FAQs below.
If something is nibbling your actual peppers and not its leaves, see some other answers in FAQs below. Read on to see other causes of leaf problems with pepper plants.
One last pest of pepper plants
If the peppers have developed and there is damage to the fruit, and you have already examined your plant for all the reasons listed above, then the last culprit could be that a mouse or two could be nibbling. If possible, close the greenhouse door at night. For a natural deterrent, encourage a cat to visit!
- You can also use mouse traps. The more humane traps allow you to catch them in a box-type trap, then you can release any captured rodents in a more convenient location, far away from your pepper plants.
- The other type of trap relies on poison in the bait, which will kill the mice so you will need to check them regularly and empty them before the smell warns you.
How do you treat holes in pepper plants?
Physically remove the pests! Physical removal of slugs and snails will allow your plant to recover instantly. If it’s flying insects, read on.
What can I spray on plants to get rid of bugs?
For whitefly, thrips, and aphids, cleaning the leaves at the first sighting of insects with a dish soap and water mixture, will help to keep them at bay.
Red spider mites do not like damp leaves, because it affects their ability to stick to leaves. If the leaves of your pepper plant have turned bronze-colored, this a sure sign of red spider mite.
Therefore, have a water mister ready and spray your pepper plants regularly, to avoid this problem in your greenhouse.
What other problems can affect my pepper plants?
Hopefully, your pepper plants will get a good chance to grow now and begin to flower. The pollinators will fertilize your flowers so ensure your greenhouse door is open and place your outdoor pots amongst flowers that attract bees. Once fertilized, these then turn to fruit, which is the pepper we eat.
Other problems that can occur with pepper plants:
Scorched brown marks on the actual peppers. This usually occurs during a very hot growing season. The cause is often blossom end rot, which occurs because there is a calcium deficiency in your soil. This can result in discoloration of the pepper and eventually if left untreated, the fruit may collapse.
This frequently happens when using grow bags; you may need to report these plants into the ground or another pot. If the soil is too acidic or because if the main cause is heat stress, there may not be sufficient water for the plant to access calcium. So check the soil in your pot or greenhouse carefully before you plant, water regularly, and add fertilizer before it is needed.
Excess heat stress comes when the pepper plant needs more moisture than you are providing. The leaves may appear discolored or the whole plant may wilt. So if you feed the plant with fertilizer and it recovers well, you know that the soil needs to be improved. Top-dress the pot or the plant area with fresh compost and continue to fertilize weekly throughout the growing season.
Be careful of the disease being passed on from plants close to your pepper plant. If a tomato has yellow leaves, it may have tomato spotted wilt virus and it can be passed on to your pepper plant, if growing from the same grow bag, for example.
This virus infection needs thrips to be carefully controlled. You may have to remove infected plants but if your previous care included washing leaves down, this should be avoided.
So by now, you have a full harvest of red and green bell peppers and some chili peppers to make salsa. Enjoy cooking stuffed peppers or use them in salads! If you have a glut of chili peppers, well done! See some ideas below.
Too many chili peppers?
In Hungary, people hang them up with string to dry; knot the string, add some more, and then store them for use all winter. In France, the garlic crop is stored the same way – hanging to dry, then use when needed.
Another good use of chili peppers is to make your own chili oil. However, these jars of super spicy oil are not for the faint-hearted but they make great presents! Cut up 2 dried chili peppers and add them to a recycled glass jar, which you fill with olive or sunflower oil.
Leave them for at least a month, two if you want them to be really spicy or until you see the color change slightly, as the chilies add their flavor. You can use this oil as a salsa on anything that requires chili or gives your friends a challenge. Only you know which oil is really spicy!