The Q&A Archives: Peepers

Question: Several of my pepper plants,green bell, yellow banana, have wilted leaves starting at the bottom of the plant that fall off and won't produce peppers. What can I do?

Answer: Carefully check the base of the plant, looking for brown sunken areas or cankers. The symptoms you describe may be a sign of a fungal disease - or the leaves may be wilting and falling off due to a cultural problem. Solanaceous crop plants (tomato, potato, pepper, and eggplant) may be infected at any age by the fungi that cause Fusarium wilt and Verticillium wilt. The wilt organisms usually enter the plant through young roots and then grow into and up the water conducting vessels of the roots and stem. As the vessels are plugged and collapse, the water supply to the leaves is blocked. With a limited water supply, leaves begin to wilt on sunny days and recover at night. Wilting may first appear in the top of the plant or in the lower leaves. The process may continue until the entire plant is wilted, stunted, or dead. Tomato and potato plants may recover somewhat but are usually weak, unthrifty, and produce fruit of low quality. Peppers typically collapse rapidly and die. Until you can positively identify the problem, there's not much you can do in terms of control. Hope this information helps you determine just what might be going on with your plants.

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