Bubbled Leaves On Habanero Plant - Knowledgebase Question

Columbus, IN
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Question by pizza5
December 26, 1997
I am new to gardening, and started off with some habanero plants in my garden this year. When fall was approaching I transplanted some of the habanero plants to pots to keep over the winter. The plant in question was severely attacked by spider mites after transplant and lost all but a few of its leaves. It has since generated some new leaves, but about half of those appear (bubbly) (only way I know to describe it) and they are turning in on themselves at the base of the leaf where the stem and leaf meet. I had read that a good fertilizer for plants is fish, so before I transplanted to this particular pot I put a fish head in the
bottom and covered it with about 3 inches of soil so that the roots would not come in direct contact with it, there alsoseems to be some small white insects (less than 1mm in size) that I see once in a while in the soil, but they don't appear to be attacking the plant above the soil line. This is the only plant that survived the transplanting.

Answer from NGA
December 26, 1997
Did the bubbly areas show up while the plant was outdoors? If so, they may have been caused by leaf miners. These small insects tunnel into the leaves of the peppers and create dead areas that might appear like blisters. (In the garden, the best defense is to grow the peppers under a floating row cover at least until the summer when the heat gets high, then you'll have to remove it. This may help prevent it from occurring again.)

Regarding the pepper that is now in the pot...I would probablystart from scratch and ditch the soil. The small white insects you are seeing may be the young form of an insect that will eventually attack your pepper. They could be doing damage as we speak to the roots. (Or they could be maggots--fly larvae--eatingthe fish.)

Could the pepper have been subjected to cold temperatures? Peppers are heat-loving plants; the tender new growth could be damaged by temperatures in the 40's. Also, how did you treat the spider mites? Could that treatment have damaged new growth?

By the way, fish emulsion and not a fish head would probably the product you want to use as a fertilizer. This is available from many garden centers. People used to bury whole fish in the ground with crops like corn a long time ago, but, having a decomposing fish outside is a lot different than having one inside. Plus, way back then they couldn't purchase fish emulsion. So, dump out the soil, get rid of the fish head, gently rinse off the plant's roots and leaves with water (not too cold, not too hot - shoot for the temp of a baby's bath water), and replant in a sterile mix. Water in well. If you want to fertilize the pepper you can use a 5-10-10 mix, once again, following package instructions. It sounds like thishabanero has really been through the ringer - I hope we can save it. My fingers are crossed!!

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