Banana Peppers

susanlynne48(OKC7a)May 22, 2008

I'm sure Dawn that you can tell me what is going on with my peppers. I planted them in containers, and they just look sick. They were starting to look sick before I planted them, but now they look very sick. Very little new growth, yellow foliage, and weak growth.


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I am sure Dawn will give you the answer you need, but I think peppers are sometimes funny because they tend to take on the color of the pepper. The white and yellow peppers just always seem to look a little sick to me compared to the big dark green bell plants. Some of the purple or dark ones have purple on the back side of the leaves.

I have one pepper plant that is marked as a Big Dipper but it is very yellow and smaller than the other peppers. I will be interested to see if I accidently got a seed of something else in the pack. It looks very healthy in spite of being yellow and smaller. Of course, I suppose the gardener could have mismarked one. I have said before that I am not picky about marking. Dawn plants, keeps records, draws pictures, hangs ribbons, and otherwise color codes her garden. Ya gotta love that.

I hope you peppers outgrow their problems with our hot weather.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2008 at 7:19PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Well, since you are such an experienced gardener, I am sure that the soil mix is well-draining because peppers do not like excessively wet soil.

Peppers are heat lovers and may be a little unhappy because the weather has been so cool for so long. I haven't felt like my peppers have had the right color all spring, although it has improved this week (finally).

I wonder if your plants have a magesium shortage? Or nitrogen? I'd be tempted to give them one feeding of Epsom Salts (one tablespoon diluted in one gallon of water) and a little compost tea or manure tea. If no improvement occurs, I'd start thinking of other possibilities.

Here's a few:

If your pepper transplants are slow to grow, seem sluggish and lacking in vigor, it could be any of these or some of them in combination:

-- The soil was too cold (below 55) at time of transplantation.

-- The plants were exposed (at the store or at your house) to temperatures in the 40s for even just a few days (this can permanently stunt them).

-- The soil mix in the container is holding too much water OR the pH is too low (less than 5.5).

-- There was low fertility in their original container and they have a nutritional deficiency. Feed as discussed above.

-- Not enough sunlight. They need full sun all day long and won't grow nearly as well if they only get sun for 4 or 5 hours a day.

-- PROBABLY not a pest problem, but look at your plants and see if you see any of the common pepper pests like leaf miners or spider mites. It seems early for spider mites, but I have seen them appear as early as mid-May, although usually that is only in a dry year.

Susan, when you say they looked sick from the beginning, are you only referring to slow growth and an off color, or did you see, then or now, any spotting on the foliage or any mottling and twisting of the foliage? Pepper foliage, esp. in cooler weather, is very susceptible to some of the bacterial and viral diseases that cause leaf spotting of various kinds. A fungicide will stop that if it is occurring.

And, have you ever seen pepper mosaic virus? It is the only pepper disease I know of that can really stop a pepper plant in its tracks. There's really nothing you can do if your plants have it. I don't see pepper mosaic virus very often.....maybe once every 8 or 10 years. When it happens, I remove and dispose of the plants before insects can carry the disease from the sick plant or plants to the still-healthy ones.

Finally, I have seen instances where very young transplants were overfed a commercial water-soluable fertilizer and responded by having all their new growth turn a very, very light yellow although the older foliage remained the darker green. Usually, though, plants mis-fed in this way, improve in a month or so.

And, IF your plants were in the ground, I would think that you might have root-knot nematodes. I have never seen nematodes in containers, though, unless the grower filled pots with soil taken from the ground, and I do KNOW that you would never do that!

What do you think? Did anything I say strike a chord?

Carol, That's a great observation about pepper foliage and I agree with it. I always think my white habaneros and peach habaneros are "sick" because their foliage never looks as good (yellowish-green instead of deep green) as the foliage of the other peppers, but it seems to be their natural color. And I love, love, love the darker purplish to blackish color of the foliage of "black" peppers like Black Pearl and Pretty in Purple.

And, I color code, map, etc. because I always plant way too many things and I plant them way too close together, so mapping and marking are the only way I have to try and impose some sense of order on the CHAOS that is my garden by the end of June! LOL


    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 11:28AM
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Dawn, I have them in pots and used Schultz potting mix so no problem with drainage. Schultz is such a "mild" fertilizer that I wouldn't think they could be affected by it, but then again, who knows? I've been letting them dry out in between waterings. The leaves DO look somewhat twisty, however.

I might add some chicken manure or worm castings to the container. I do this with my other plants in containers, too. A lady told me a long time ago that her begonias grew so well in containers because she used manure in her potting soil. That holds true for everything else I have in the garden.

I did get the peppers early in the season, so they have suffered thru the cooler weather and nighttime temps that I'm sure didn't help them at all. They looked fine when I purchased them, but kind of declined after that. I just thought they needed to be potted up with some nutricious soil.

Oh, they are in full sun, too! I do have some very sunny areas in the front, which is where I grow my tomatos.


    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 2:20PM
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My pimiento peppers look just the way you described as well...not growing much, yellowish...but thankfully, since it's dried out and heated up a bit, the new internal growth looks a deeper green and healthy...with mine I think time will tell.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 3:54PM
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I visited a lady today that had a gorgeous small garden. She had tomato plants that were dark green and blooming (remember I am northern Oklahoma), wonderful healthy looking cukes and squash, pretty curly lettuce, and a wonderful row of spinach. I have never grown spinach that looked like that. Then there were the peppers which were straggly, skinny, yellow leafed little bell peppers. Her hot peppers looked the same but had peppers on them. I think it may have been a rough time for peppers this spring. I feel sure hers will pull out of it because the soil has to be fantastic for everything else to look like it does.

I planted all of mine from seed this year (except the 3 my husband pulled out of a dumpster) which is another story. In the past when I have bought transplants they would be very yellow after they were planted, then gradually the new growth in the top center of the plant would be nice and green. Eventually they all turned green and did just fine.

My husband and I don't have any living grandparents but we have one that is like a grandmother because she was married to his grandfather for years. She lives in Springdale AR and we visit her several times a year. One year she asked me if I had planted hot peppers. I said that I had only planted jalapeno peppers and a lot of sweet pepper. She said, "Let me give you some." She walked over to this pot that was on her back step and looked like she might have just dumped a pack of seed in it. It had little skinny peppers about four inches tall and very close together. Before I could say anything she reached down and grabbed a clump of peppers and handed them to me. I do mean grabbed. She didn't dig, or lift the soil, just pulled them up by the roots. I put them in a wet paper towel and brought them home and planted them in the garden never expecting to see them again. Everyone grew and produced. I hear people say it is hard to grow peppers, but after that experience, I have never thought so.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 4:18PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


I really think that it is the cool weather that persisted for so long. Since Sharon's are perking up too, maybe the warming up of the temps. will help yours. I wouldn't think it would be the Schultz potting mix. I've never heard of anyone having problems with it.

I think I'd feed them something yummy like manure or worm castings and see if they look better. They should look better within just a few days if they are having nutritional issues.

I've linked the Cornell Univ. factsheet on pepper diseases. Check out the photos that are sort of far down on the page and see if any of them match your pepper foliage.

And, do you grow any nicotianas for the moths? If so, I think there might be a slim chance tobbaco mosaic virus or tobacco etch virus(disease?)--don't remember the exact name--could be spread by aphids or something from the nicotianas to the peppers.

The best begonias I ever grew were in a bed heavily enriched (probably too much so) with cow manure. They were as big as bushel baskets and all my neighbors were jealous! I let gardening neighbors take cuttings of the begonias, but all they got were ordinary-sized begonias. I guess I should have told them that it probably wasn't that the begonias were some sort of "super-begonia". but rather that I had gone overboard with manure during the bed preparation!


Here is a link that might be useful: Cornell Fact Sheet on Pepper Diseases

    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 4:34PM
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Heehee - the secrets we keep! LOL! This lady grew begonias that most people don't grow in gardens - like the Rexes, rhizomatous, canes, shrubs, etc. The Myriad Botanical Gardens inherited some of her begonias. She was the best grower I ever saw and won many national shows. She did put some of her pots out during the summer, but most remained in her greenhouse. Of course, if you grow these monsters in a greenhouse, they will love you to pieces. Some of her leaves were 1' or more across and as long.

Dawn, you're such an expert gardener, I would expect nothing less than the biggest, bestest plants in the world!

Actually, I don't grow nicotianas - you'd think I would, huh? I grew them one year from seed, but mine never look as good as they are supposed to, so I stick with tomatoes and daturas, which do great here. I just decided to grow the banana peppers this year for the experience. I don't even like peppers - perish the thought, I know. I always pick them off the pizza, or out of the salad, or whatever. Other than peppers, I'm really not a picky eater. I love squash, cukes, eggplant (now I could grow that solanaceae family member, too), broccoli, cauliflower, and all the regular veggies, too. But peppers I can't seem to develop a taste for. Now my kids - they won't eat veggies at all. My GD loves salads and tomatos, tho, unlike her mommy, especially the grape tomatoes. And of all things - onions! She has me chop up onions for her bologna sandwiches even.

I will feed the peppers tomorrow and post in a few days whether or not they have picked up.

I bet this was a good year for spinach, with the long cool spring we had, wasn't it?

Thanks for everyone's help - I really appreciate it.


    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 8:57PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Eggplants are GORGEOUS plants too! I didn't plant any this year....we don't eat much of it, but sometimes I grow it for friends of ours who like it. Of course, a couple of volunteer eggplants came up near the chicken pen, so I left them there.

My nicotiana foliage always gets sort of ratty looking, but I grow so many other plants around it that they sort of hide it.

I hope your peppers make a nice turnaround.


    Bookmark   May 24, 2008 at 10:48AM
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OK, well I'm not finding some of the requirements most people cite for peppers to fit for me here in NE Oklahoma. The full sun thing, mostly. In full sun, my pepper plants wilt, even if they are well watered. Then the wind comes along and beats them to death. Last year I fought for every pepper I got, which was very few. This year I determined to do a few things differently, since I seem to be "pepper challenged".

This spring I made sure I didn't let the plants get cold, and planted in containers when the time was right, lined them up along one side of my raised bed. I had 19 plants. Then the sun wilted them all and the wind beat on them for awhile. I started out making little "skirts" around the cages I had put on top to help support the plants and that got a little labor-intensive. So I rolled each one onto the dolly and moved them to the sidewalk, where they get morning and noon-time sun but the house shades them in the afternoon. That stopped the wilting. They've been there for probably three weeks now. They always seem to want more water than a tomato plant does, which is another good argument for growing peppers in containers; however the rain lately has been too much of a good thing.

Other than the fact that something is eating the leaves, my bell and banana peppers are doing better than last year when they were in full sun. As you can see by the pictures, the amount of shade doesn't seem to be keeping them from producing. There are petunia plants in the containers as companion plants. I don't know if the petunias will bloom, being shaded by the pepper plants as they are, but it was just something I tried. The petunia plants were really tiny when I put them in the planters.

The containers are metal trash containers that I bought at a thrift shop for $1 each.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 1:23PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


I love those containers! They look cool lined up there with the plants in them!

I plant petunias under tomato plants (in containers and in the ground) and potato plants (in the ground) and I get blooms even though the petunias get quite a lot of shade. This year I planted Laura Bush heat-loving petunias in between hollyhocks and the mounding hollyhock foliage pretty much covered them up fairly quickly, but the petunias are "peeking out from under" the hollyhock foliage and blooming like crazy even though it has been very dry. So, in our heat, a little shade probably makes the petunias happy....and you still get blooms!

My peppers have wilted a little on the hot and windy days, but bounce back in the evenings. The wilting is worse when there is wind, and that's not really surprising...their lovely green foliage has always seemed more "tender" to me than tomato foliage.

I wonder what's eating your peppers? In my garden, hoppers are eating everything EXCEPT my peppers. LOL The guineas have been eating the hoppers these last few days though.

I have had varying experiences with peppers and sun/shade. The peppers I have in the ground in the veggie garden get sun from sunrise to sunset, although occasionally they are shaded by surrounding plants. (I put peppers in almost every bed, so the tomatoes and okra and other taller plants shade them at some point.) I get great production from them. Often, they are so covered in peppers I have to stake the plants to keep them from falling over.

I have grown peppers in morning sun/afternoon shade (shade from about noon on) some years and some produced very, very well in those conditions....MORE peppers than the same varieties produced in full sun. It was in 2005 and 2006 and it was very dry here both of those years. Last year, I had peppers in containers (cat litter buckets painted a lovely dark green with Fusion plant) because it was too wet to put them in the ground. They were on the east side of the barn patio so only got sun from sunrise until about noon. They produced moderately well but still dried out quickly in those containers, so I had to water them pretty much every morning and evening, unless it rained.

I have found that many veggies produce VERY WELL in spite of shade. Of course, when we use the term "full sun" in a gardening sense, we generally mean a minimum of 6 to 8 hours of sun a day, and not necessarily a whole 12, 13, or 14 hours of sun. I've had the following produce well on as little as 4 hours of sun per day: peppers, broccoli, lettuce, eggplant, pumpkins, winter squash, gourds, garlic, beans, onions and sweet potatoes. (I never thought sweet potatoes would do that well in part shade, but they do. I can't plant them anywhere else because they need sandy soil and my tiny little band of sandy soil is almost all in the shade of a huge pecan tree.) I've also grown tomatoes that produce well when receiving only 6 hours of sun. Cantaloupe and cucumbers produced in only 4 to 5 hours of sun, but not as heavily as they do in more sun. So, I think it is possible (and sometimes preferable) to garden in part shade when possible, at least in our climate and with our long days of summer sunshine/heat.

I know that, when I lived in Texas, I was able to keep tomatoes setting fruit better in the heat of the summer if I kept the plants REALLY well watered and had a shadecloth over them from about noon to 4 p.m. I might try the shadecloth thing here on some plants this summer to see if it works as well as I remember.


    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 2:04PM
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I see this is a bit after everyone else, but I have 2 banana pepper plants, one is fine, but the other has black stems, and my first pepper has a black tip. Earlier in the summer, it was much paler than my other pepper, but it has since darkened up. Now my only problem is the black spots and stems. My plant is in the ground in my backyard. It has been raining a lot most of the summer, so it may be too wet for it. Is that a possible problem?

I'm knew to planting and I've just been working in my parents' yard. Please advise. Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 3:14PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Black spots of various kinds are pretty common on peppers. They usually are the result of high humidity and lots of moisture on the leaves (not that you have any control over how much rainfall they receive). They could be the result of a fungal or bacterial infection. If the peppers are not already mulched, mulching will help keep bacteria and fungi spores in the soil from splashing up onto the plants. Sometimes they self-correct--not that the spots necessarily go away, but they don't spread beyond what you're already seeing.

Tell me more about the black stems. Are all the stems black? Only some? Solid black, or green with black spots or splotches or what? Can you describe them? On the leaves, if black spots or splotches are on them, is it a solid black or is it brown and black and perhaps with yellow halos in a border around the black?

Is the black tip on your pepper at the bottom end of the pepper or at the stem end? And, is there also black spotting on stems and fruit only, or also on the leaves? Are the black spots sunken into the pepper or raised up above the remaining pepper surface? Any necrosis (tissue death) in the center of the black spots. (It would probably look completely brown and dead OR a hole would have already rotted through the middle of a black spot.)

If you answer my questions, I think we can figure out if your black spots are a problem or not.

Too much moisture can be a problem in several ways:

1. It can literally drown the plants by interfering with oxygen uptake. Plants cannot survive without oxygen.

2. It can cause plants to have nutritional deficiencies because the roots are so waterlogged that they cannot take up nutients from the soil. If this was a problem, you'd see stunting of plant growth, abnormal-looking foliage and either little or no flowers and fruit.

3. IF excessive soil moisture is a problem it will normally show up in the yellowing and wilting of foliage. When they see wilting foliage, many people panic and do the worst thing possible--they assume the plant is too dry and immediately water it. When you do see wilting, first stick a finger in the soil and see if it feels damp. If the soil is still moist a couple of inches down from the soil surface, the wilting may be caused by the high afternoon heat and the plants will bounce back quickly shortly after sundown. If the soil is dry, then you water.

4. Too much moisture usually enables several different fungal and bacterial diseases to establish and spread, but they generally are not too serious on pepper plants.

In spite of everything I've said above about how it could be this or could be that, SOMETIMES black spots on peppers mean absolutely nothing. I see those kinds of "meaningless" black spots a lot some years, and not at all in other years. Look at the link below at the pepper with black spots....I think it is the second photo...and tell me if yours resemble that one.


Here is a link that might be useful: Pepper Diseases

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 5:04PM
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