Why Are My Pepper Plants Turning Yellow?
As you are gardening this summer in your backyard, you may notice that particular problems occasionally arise. Certainly, pepper leaves turning yellow is a common issue that gardeners face every year.
With living on seven acres of land, every year it seems that I expand my vegetable garden more and more to provide for my family and friends, and the mere fact that I love olericulture!
That being said, it is definitely frustrating and sad when the health of plants begins to decline.
You may ask yourself, why is this happening? What can I do to solve and prevent this issue of yellow leaves? Well, there are a plethora of possible reasons behind pepper leaves turning yellow, and we are here to figure it out!
Are My Pepper Plants Going To Survive?
Before figuring out why your pepper leaves are turning yellow, you may wonder if the plants are a lost cause and a waste of resources to attempt to fix.
In most cases, if the yellowing, or chlorosis, is caught early on, certain adjustments to plant care can clear up the problem.
You do not have to lose hope the instant you spot a problem. I often ask myself when my plants develop an issue, is it worth it? The majority of the time, the answer is yes!
What Do I Do If My Pepper Leaves Are Turning Yellow?
If you are out in your garden in the evening, hauling water to your thirsty plants, be sure to take time to observe your plants.
Of course, we don't always have time to do this with all the watering, harvesting and weeding that we need to do, but it is crucial to having healthy plants.
The biggest key to any plant-related problem is prevention. If your pepper leaves are turning yellow, begin to investigate thoroughly!
What Are The Main Causes Of Pepper Leaves Turning Yellow?
Whenever I see any plant struggling, I usually get overwhelmed at first. Plant problems can come from so many things, that it takes a little time to properly diagnose them to treat it.
As far as pepper leaves turning yellow, there are three principal reasons as to why this occurs.
1. Nutrient Deficiency
Every plant needs basic macro and micronutrients. If you listen to your plants, they will tell you what they need.
Pepper leaves turning yellow could be an indicator that there is either a nitrogen, iron, or manganese deficiency. This lack of nutrients could be due to the composition of your soil, environmental factors, contents of your water, and how fast the plant is using the nutrients.
Plants need nutrients to develop chlorophyll (which are pigment cells that capture light for photosynthesis), amino acids, fruit, new tissue, and much more.
Luckily, these three deficiencies can be narrowed down based on the type of chlorosis that it is forming and whether it is on the younger or older leaves.
To start, nitrogen is the main macronutrient for plants. It is essential for all development in a plant, and as Joan Jubela of Penn State Extension states, it is most important for all vegetative growth.
Nitrogen is a mobile nutrient; therefore, the plant will move all the available nitrogen to the newer leaves, leaving the older leaves to show deficiency. The main way to solve this is to add fertilizer, seeing that most basic fertilizers have an adequate amount of nitrogen.
Also with this deficiency, the leaves look pale yellow all over, versus iron deficiencies, which develop interveinal chlorosis.
Leading to iron deficiencies, these most often happen when your soil is more alkaline. Alkaline soil has a high pH, generally, once it starts going past a seven. Most plants love a pH of either 5.5 to 7 or a 6 to a 7.
Iron among other nutrients is most available at an acidic pH, which is also why it is important for you to monitor your soil pH, and test it every year. You can send it to a university to test it, which generally isn’t that expensive, or buy an at-home test for it.
The main sign of an iron deficiency is when the plant develops interveinal chlorosis, which is where the whole leaf turns yellow except the vein – it is very contrasting!
According to Dr. James Walworth, an expert at The University Of Arizona, adding sulfur or chelated iron will make your soil more acidic to make those nutrients accessible to the plants.
Iron is not a mobile nutrient, so you will see the signs of a deficiency in new growth.
Lastly, a big sign of a manganese deficiency is also interveinal chlorosis. Also, the yellow spots may develop brown, dead (necrotic) tissue where chlorosis is occurring. Manganese is typically immobile, so young tissue will develop the symptoms.
Manganese is important for photosynthesis in plants. Ways to manage this deficiency are to add manganese sulphate into your plant’s diet.
Overall, if your pepper leaves are turning yellow, as far as nutrients, the main culprits are usually deficiencies in nitrogen, iron, or manganese.
2. Water Management
Water is what maintains a plant's turgidity and is one of the key factors for it to photosynthesize.
Water management is essential for any type of plant. Peppers do not like to be saturated constantly and like to dry out well in between waterings. If you have clay soil (like me), especially keep this in mind because clay retains the most moisture out of all the soil textures.
Constantly observe how much water you are giving the pepper plant, how much it is actually taking up, and how much rain the environment is providing.
When you check to see how dry the soil is, stick your finger or hand as far down into the soil as you can because it could look dry on top but be saturated a couple of inches down. When you do this, also be very aware of the plant's roots, for you do not want to damage them.
If you see that your pepper leaves are experiencing chlorosis, it could be due to under or overwatering. Generally, you may be overwatering.
Knowing how much water it is getting is the main way to diagnose the plant and to know if that is the issue.
If you are overwatering, the leaves will be limp and yellow, while with underwatering, the leaves will be yellow and feel crunchy. Again, peppers don't like to be super wet all the time, and typically people will overwater them.
To fix this, simply adjust the amount of water the plant is getting in any way that you can. If you find that you live in a wet climate, maybe try container gardening so that you can shelter your plants.
Any time my plant develops chlorosis or any necrotic tissue, the first thing I do is check for pests. The main reason I always go to that first is that I have experienced so many infestations!
The most common pests that attack garden plants are as follows:
- Powdery Mildew
- White Flies
- Broad mites
- Mealy Bugs
The possibilities are endless and scouting your plants every day will be the prime way to catch these issues before they manifest. Water management is also essential for keeping away harmful insects, fungi, and bacteria.
To fix the issue, if you do unfortunately find pests, it will vary depending on the pest you are dealing with. Contact your local agriculture extension office before using the last result of applying chemicals that could harm you and the surrounding environment.
Doing What Is Best For Your Pepper Plants
With the way of the weather and all the organisms your plants can be exposed to, outdoor gardening can be a challenge.
As far as pepper plants, pepper leaves turning yellow can be caused by nutrient deficiencies, incorrect watering patterns, or pests. Each barrier has ways to avoid it and solve the issues if they do occur.
Ways to keep your pepper plants from turning yellow:
- Scout for pests regularly by checking both sides of leaves, new growth points, stems, and roots
- Ensure that your peppers are not getting too much water and that they dry out in between waterings
- Spray a neem oil, dish soap, and water solution on your plants every week or two weeks to prevent pests
- Get your soil tested every year, preferably by sending it into a lab, to make sure your soil is at the correct pH and nutrient content
- Be sure your plants have enough fertilizer (whether it be purchased or your own compost) to start the season, especially when they begin producing fruit