Leaf curl on pepper plants can occur when the plant is under stressful conditions such as excess heat and light, overwatering, viruses and infections. However, these conditions can easily be tackled and the plant can be brought back to shape with healthy foliage.
In this guide, our experts list out the common causes of a leaf curl on pepper plants and how you can fix the problem hassle-free. Continue reading to find the easiest of solutions and overcome this common plant problem.
Why Is There Leaf Curl on Pepper Plants?
Leaf curl on common pepper plants happens if the plant is exposed to excess light, heat and fluctuations in temperature. Aside from this, an improper watering schedule, as well as pests and viral infections, can cause the problem.
In this section, we provide answers to the vital question “Why are my peppers curling?” by listing out the causes in more detail and giving a solution to tackle them easily.
– Pest Infestation
One of the most common causes that cause leaves to curl on the plant is pest infestation. Aphids, thrips and spider mites are the usual culprits that feed on the plant by sucking out the sap off the foliage, making the bell pepper leaves curl and go limp. Isolate the plant as soon as you spot pests. For minor infestations, gently snip away the affected leaves and discard them.
For more severe infestations, spray an organic soapy insecticide to get rid of the insects. Additionally, introduce other insects such as ladybugs that feed on these pests. Prevent pest infestations by regularly spraying a diluted solution of neem oil or horticultural oil all over the foliage and the soil.
This plant does not tolerate overwatered and soggy soil. Too much water prevents the roots from taking in adequate oxygen and nutrients from the ground, thereby leading to the pepper leaves going yellow as well as curling up.
If you spot pepper leaves curling up and turning yellow, tackle the issue, scale back on the water and keep your pepper plant in dry soil. Ensure the potting mix is light, aerated and well-draining.
Additionally, the pot needs to have proper drainage holes that will permit easy flow out of water. If the soil is extremely soggy, consider transplanting into fresh, light soil.
To prevent leaves from curling due to overwatering, maintain a proper watering schedule. Leave the soil to dry between waterings or do a simple soil test by sticking your finger one inch into the soil to check for moisture levels.
Another stress condition that causes the plant to curl up is when it has been underwatered. As much as the plant dislikes soggy soil and seldom fares well in excess moisture conditions, peppers do not thrive in an arid environment as well.
If you have underwatered your plant, along with the curling of leaves you will also find your pepper plant leaves turning light green or pale with spotty leaves.
Fix the issue by hydrating the plant well. To prevent future occurrences, make sure you maintain a proper watering schedule. You can follow the simple practice of doing a finger moisture test.
Take note that an underwatered plant takes some time to overcome the stress and grow back looking healthy. In the interim period, do not overwater as this can hamper the existing health of the plant.
– Excess or Inadequate Light
Pepper plants prefer bright sunlight for at least six hours daily. Inadequate sunlight causes stress, thereby leading to the plant leaves curling. Move your plant to a sunny spot to tackle this condition effectively. At the same time, the pepper plant leaves also tend to curl up if the plant has been exposed to excess light.
This condition will normally occur if you are growing your plants indoors under artificial grow lights. With varying degrees of intensity, the plant gets into a stress condition, thereby resulting in curling leaves, falling and early drying of leaves.
Do not place your pepper plant too close to grow lights and always lower the intensity, adjusting it to a level that is just right for the plant and closer to natural light. Keep the grow lights at least 12 to 18 inches away from the plant.
– Nutrition Deficiency
When your plant is low in nutrients such as calcium, the condition can lead to yellowing and curling of leaves. Calcium is an essential nutrient for the development of the proper plant and a deficiency hampers its growth.
Tackle pepper plant leaf problems and fix this issue by providing the plant with over-the-counter calcium supplements. Mix organic supplements such as bone meal or ground eggs along with the soil and soon your plant should be back in health and good shape.
– Virus and Plant Diseases
Another common cause is a viral infection of the plant. Along with curling, you may also find yellow spots, rings and bulls’ eyes on leaves in this condition. The common plant viral diseases are mosaic virus, Verticillium wilt and Phytophthora blight.
Unfortunately, even for pepper leaf curl virus treatment, there is no standard solution and a plant infected with viral diseases may not completely recover. However, you can reduce the risk of it spreading to other sections of your plant.
Immediately remove the affected area and throw it separately in the trash. Make sure that no affected part remains on the plant and that your other plants are placed away from this one.
– Plant Edema
This condition is irregular water retention in leaves and stems that causes curling, blisters and bumps. Additionally, you may also find brown spots that spread as the condition persists for a long time. The main cause of edema is improper ventilation around the plant, irregular watering schedule and low humidity in the air.
Move the plant to a spot where there is adequate air circulation and avoid dark dingy corners. Maintain a regular watering schedule and prevent soggy soils to reduce the moisture in the plant.
Mix in mulch, grass clippings, straw or shredded leaves in the soil to increase aeration and make it well-draining. If the air is too dry, you will need to mist the plant regularly to increase humidity around it. Another way to increase humidity levels around your plant is by placing it in a humidity tray.
– Constrained Container
Is your plant in a constrained container? This could be one strong reason why your leaves start curling. The plant has a high growth rate, thus they easily outgrow their containers.
Root bound, the chili peppers plant can seldom take in enough nutrients and moisture from the soil and will soon begin to poke out of drainage holes as well. This is a sure indication that the container is constrained and you need to move the plant to a bigger size.
Choose a pot for growing peppers that’s at least two inches larger in diameter so that the roots have enough room to expand. Make sure that you regularly repot your plant when you notice signs of constraining or if you see it becoming root-bound. This should also effectively take care of the issue of curling of leaves.
– High Acidity in the Soil
If your soil is highly acidic, the plant will be unable to take in the calcium from the soil. This will lead to nutrient imbalance, causing them to curl. Pepper plants need soil that is between the range of pH 5.8 and 6.8. Maintain these levels and the plant should slowly get back to looking healthy and thriving.
– Excess Temperature
Hot temperatures or chilly winds are extreme conditions in which pepper plants struggle to cope. Peppers prefer a temperature range between 60 degrees and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Move the plant to a warm and protective spot in case of frost and chilly winds.
In case of a heat wave in the air, cover the plant with a shade or create a greenhouse effect to reduce the temperature and prevent the leaves from scalding.
– Transplantation Shock
Did you recently transplant your peppers? In that case, the curling could be just a temporary phase as the plant overcomes the transplantation shock.
Every time a plant is moved to a new spot, fresh soil or a bigger container, you can expect some amount of curling of leaves. This is normal and occurs because of the disturbance caused to its roots
Wait for a few weeks and provide it with ideal care and the plant should limp back to health in no time. Do not overwater during this phase as most plants will successfully get over the transplantation shock after they have been settled in their new locations for a while.
You now have complete information about why your pepper plant’s leaves are curling and how you can fix the problem.
Here is a quick summary of the details mentioned in this article all in a nutshell.
- Curling of leaves occurs in the pepper plant due to the stress conditions of the plant.
- The common causes are improper watering schedule, viral infections, pests, excessive light and heat
- Monitor your plant’s watering schedule to prevent the soil from going overly saturated to completely dry. Reduce the risk of curling by placing it under the right heat and light conditions.
- You can fix a deficiency by maintaining a neutral pH level and using supplements and balanced nutrients. Effectively tackle pests and insects by treating the plant with pesticides and maintaining good plant hygiene.
- Calcium and magnesium are essential and give the plant vibrant and healthy foliage.
Having understood the signs, causes, and remedies, you can easily find a resolution to the problem anytime your beloved houseplant faces a deficiency.